OLR Research Report


October 1, 2013

 

2013-R-0382

DEFINITION OF THE TERM “MINOR” UNDER CONNECTICUT LAW

By: Michelle Kirby, Associate Analyst

This report describes how Connecticut law defines the term “minor.”

SUMMARY

Connecticut statutes expressly define the term “minor” at least eight different times. Depending on the purpose for which the definition is being used, a “minor” can mean a person under age 16, 17, 18, or 21. The definition with the widest applicability throughout the statutes classifies a minor as any person under age 18 (CGS 1-1d).

That statute also establishes that the “age of majority” in Connecticut is 18, and it considers anyone who reaches this age an adult. Here again, though, the law varies with respect to when someone is considered to be old enough to have a certain responsibility or privilege. For example, an individual (1) must be over age 18 to become a police officer or obtain a gun permit but can be (2) under 18 to obtain a driver's license.

DEFINITION OF THE TERM “MINOR”

As Table 1 shows, state laws defining the term “minor” have four variations. Depending on the purpose for which the definition is being used, a “minor” can mean a person under age 16, 17, 18, or 21. The definition with the broadest applicability is the one that defines a minor as a person under age 18. Whenever the term is used throughout the statutes this definition applies unless another definition is specified. The other statutory definitions have narrower applications. For example, for

the purpose of (1) responsible gun storage, a minor is anyone under age 16 and (2) the sale and purchase of alcohol, a minor is anyone under age 21. Table 1 summarizes the various definitions of the term “minor” in state law that we found.

TABLE 1: DEFINITION OF “MINOR”

Applicability

Definition

Throughout the statutes unless another definition applies (CGS 1-1d)

A person under age 18

Specific pregnancy information and counseling required before performance of an abortion

(CGS 19a-600(2))

A person under age 16

Liquor Control Act provisions unless another definition is specified

(CGS 30-1(12))

Any person under age 21

Department of Consumer Protection's refusal of permits to sell alcoholic liquor

(CGS 30-45)

A person who is a minor, as defined in (1) CGS 1-1d or (2) CGS 30-1 (i.e., a person under age 21), whichever age is older

Guardianship of a person

(CGS 45a-604(4)) [1]

A person under age 18

Strict liability for failure to securely store a loaded firearm

(CGS 52-571g)

Any person under age 16

Crime of obscenity as to minors

(CGS 53a-193(2)(A) & 53a-196)

Any person under age 17

Crimes of employing or promoting a minor in an obscene performance

(CGS 53a-193(2)(A), 53a-196a, & 53a-196b

Any person under age 16

[1] This definition also includes the term “minor child

AGE OF MAJORITY

Another phrase used to describe someone who has reached an age at which certain adult-like privileges and duties accrue is the “age of majority.” Connecticut law establishes this as age 18 and provides that any person who reaches this age “shall be an adult for all purposes whatsoever and have the same legal capacity, rights, powers, privileges, duties, liabilities and responsibilities as persons heretofore had at age 21 years of age” (CGS 1-1d).

While CGS 1-1d creates the general rule, we found several statutes and one regulation that use different ages. Table 2 summarizes these.

TABLE 2: AGE OF MAJORITY EXCEPTIONS

Age

Privilege

Statute

12

Age starting at which someone may operate a motor boat above 10 horsepower without an accompanying adult

CGS 15-140h

16

Age at which someone may hunt unaccompanied by an adult

CGS 26-38

15

Age at which someone may contract for life, health, or accident insurance

CGS 38a-284

16

Age at which someone may register a motor vehicle (but only with parental consent)

CGS 14-14

16

Age at which someone may obtain a driver's and motorcycle operator's license

CGS 14-36

16

Age under which women must receive specific pregnancy information and counseling before obtaining an abortion

CGS 19a-601

16

Age under which certain restrictions apply on what kind and hours of work someone can be paid for

CGS 31-23

16

Age of consent for sexual relations (with exceptions)

Various

17

Age at which someone may obtain a license to hunt and fish on public lands

CGS 26-16

17

Age at which someone may donate blood without parental consent

CGS 19a-285a

21

Age at which someone may have a gun legally transferred to him or her

CGS 29-34(b)

21

Age at which someone can obtain an eligibility certificate to possess a handgun

CGS 29-36f

21

Age at which someone may purchase and consume alcoholic beverages

CGS 30-1

21

Age at which someone may obtain a gun permit

CGS 29-28(b)(10)

21

Age at which someone may become a police officer

Conn. Agency Regs. 7-294e-16

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