Youth and the Law in Minnesota

Teen Driving

Minnesota law makes many distinctions between the rights and responsibilities of adults and young persons. Part 1 describes the major statutory and case law that differentiates between youths and adults. These provisions are divided into the areas of economic regulations, education, family relations, health and social services, motor vehicles, and criminal law. There is a miscellaneous section for other age provisions.

Usually, legal distinctions are drawn at the age of majority, which is statutorily defined as 18 years. Persons under age 18 are minors. They are deemed less able than adults to take responsibility for themselves or to carry out obligations to others. Similarly, they are considered more in need of protection both from their own inexperienced judgments and from the actions of others.

Minnesota law makes some distinctions between adults and youth at points other than 18 years. For example, a few rights are withheld and a few protections are extended until ages 19 or 21 in the belief that 18-year-olds are not ready to be entirely on their own in particular areas. On the other hand, not all minors are treated identically under the law. In some instances, younger children are considered in need of greater protection or unable to carry out the greater responsibilities of older children. As a result, certain statutes treat minors under such ages as 16, 14, or 10 differently from minors over those ages.

The content of this and any related posts has been adopted or copied from the Minnesota House of Representatives Research Department’s December 2010 publication, Youth and the Law – A Guide for Legislators, written as a collaborative effort by the Research Department’s legislative analysts.

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