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Legally defining adulthood seems straightforward: individuals reach the age of majority at 18 and are granted key privileges based on age. But, that definition is actually pretty vague. We see evidence for that vagueness when we look at legal culpability—policies around waiving minors into adult court vary by state which means that there is no national consensus on how age affects understanding the consequences of one's actions.Some of the justifications against minor criminal culpability include undeveloped cognition (cognitive development theory) and a lack of moral maturity. This research poster seeks to investigate how the legal system differentiates minors from adults and what psychological theories are used to justify (or undermine) that differentiation and how that differentiation varies in state policies regarding adult waivers.
Utah State University
Social and Behavioral Sciences
Ramirez, Yocheved, ""They Need to Grow Up": Variations Among Legal Definitions of Minors" (2020). Fall Student Research Symposium 2020. 71.