Legal Rights of a 17-Year-Old in Louisiana

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Throughout the United States, people usually are considered adults when they reach the age of majority. In most states, that age is 18 or 19 years. However, minors may enjoy certain legal rights before reaching the age of majority.

In Louisiana, the age of majority is 18 years. While 17-year-olds may be minors, they still enjoy some legal rights in Louisiana.

Emancipation of Minors in Louisiana

Emancipation is a legal status in which minors assume the rights and responsibilities of an adult before reaching the age of majority. In Louisiana, minors can be emancipated in one of three ways:

  • Judicial emancipation.
  • Limited emancipation by an authentic act.
  • Emancipation by marriage.

Minors who are 16 years of age or older can receive judicial emancipation. In this process, a court finds there is good cause for the minor to leave the parents' custody. The emancipation can be with or without limits that the court sets.

The parents or guardians of a minor can consent to limited emancipation by an authentic act once the minor is at least 16 years of age. The rights and responsibilities that the emancipation grants to the minor must be spelled out in the act. The minor and the parents/guardians of the minor sign a contract, which is the authentic act.

Legal Age for Marriage in Louisiana

Before August 2019, a minimum age to marry in Louisiana did not exist. However, minors needed parental consent, and anyone under 16 needed approval from a judge. In August 2019, a law came into effect that set more limitations on marriage between minors in the state.

In 2019, the minimum age for marriage is 16 years in Louisiana. Furthermore, teens who are 16- or 17-years-old cannot marry anyone who is more than three years their elder. Finally, minors must get consent from both their parents and a judge before the marriage is legal.

When minors get married in Louisiana, they also receive emancipation on the day of the marriage. If the marriage dissolves, the emancipation remains in effect.

Criminal Cases and 17-Year-Olds in Louisiana

In 2016, the governor of Louisiana signed a bill into law that aims to include 17-year-old criminal offenders in the juvenile system. Previously, such minors were tried as adults unless the court ruled otherwise.

The bill came into take effect in March 2019. Since then, all nonviolent offenders who are 17 years of age are taken into the juvenile justice system. Starting July 1, 2020, all 17-year-old offenders will go into the juvenile justice system, even those who are accused of violent offenses.

Minors Consent to Medical Treatment

In Louisiana, minors have the right to consent to medical treatment, even if their parents, guardians or spouses do not consent. As long as the person providing care is licensed in the state, a minor can consent to most medications, surgeries and medical treatments on their own. Furthermore, medical providers are not required to inform anyone else of the minor's choice.

While these rules apply to most medical treatments, Louisiana has special restrictions in place when minors seek abortions. Minors need the consent of at least one parent or a judge unless there is a medical emergency.

Age of Consent in Louisiana

The "age of consent" is the age in which a person can legally consent to sexual relations with an adult. The age of consent varies from state to state. In Louisiana, the age of consent is 17 years.

Additionally, 17-year-olds can have consensual sex with some minors, because 17-year-olds are also minors. The state sets limits on the age difference between consenting minors. People between the ages of 13 and 15 can consent to relations with people up to three years older, but people who are 15 and 16 can consent to sex only with those two years their senior.