Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Minor Definition:

A young person not yet of the age of majority.

Related Terms: Age of Majority, Young Offender, Child, Adult

A person who is legally underage; who has not yet attained the age of majority, and which are denied the ability to fully and freely contract.

The common law age of majority is 21. Earlier in history, bases on a Latin principle, the age of majority was 25.

Most states have set their age of majority in statute. It varies between 21 and 18 years of age. It is 18 in Alaska and 21 in Mississippi (as of 2007). In Canada, it is either 18 or 19.

Title 25, Chapter 20 of the Alaska Statutes, at ¶10, states:

"A person is considered to have arrived at majority at the age of 18, and thereafter has control of the person's own actions and business and has all the rights and is subject to all the liabilities of citizens of full age, except as otherwise provided by statute."

A person is no longer a minor when they attain the age of majority. The law defines this event as emancipation.

For many new adults, this may mean access to places serving alcohol and the right to purchase and consume alcohol, smoke cigarettes and drive a car.

But there are many other legal rights which a minor does not have such as, in some states, the right to own land, to sign a contract or to get married.

Further, some statutes make exceptions and allow minors to do certain things at a younger age (such as drive or vote or serve in the armed forces) all the while maintaining a general age of majority.

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