The juvenile justice system is designed to serve and protect the rights of young people who have committed criminal offenses. Being a teenager can be difficult, and young people can find themselves in trouble with the law for various reasons.
From curfew violations to serious crimes such as violent offenses and sexual offenses, those who are accused of a crime must understand the legal system and their options for defense. With experienced legal advice, assistance, rehabilitation courses, and diversion programs, young people can be given a second chance at avoiding a criminal record.
Juvenile Crime Statistics
Juvenile crimes range from simple assault, theft, and alcohol offenses to more serious felonies such as gang-related activities, violent crimes, and sexual offenses. Each violation has different consequences depending on the type of crime, severity, and previous record. In some cases, juvenile offenders may be sent to a detention hearing and potentially even a juvenile detention center.
In the United States, juvenile delinquency is a problem that affects millions of families each year. Despite declines in recent years, there were still an estimated 423,077 adjudicated and disposed delinquency cases in juvenile courts in a single year.
Even more concerning is the fact that approximately 2.1 million individuals aged 18 and under were arrested during the same year for various offenses such as curfew violations, simple assault, violent crimes, criminal offenses, petty theft, alcohol offenses, and sexual offenses.
Depending on the severity of the charges, punishments could range from alternative punishments such as community service hours and counseling sessions to more severe penalties such as fines, probation programs, or even a juvenile detention center.
It is crucial for younger people accused of a crime to seek legal advice from an experienced attorney familiar with the criminal justice system.
What Are the Most Common Crimes Committed By Juveniles?
Without any prior knowledge of the criminal justice system, it can be challenging to determine when an individual’s behavior may lead to legal consequences. However, the following common juvenile crimes must be noted.
This form of stealing involves taking property without permission or authority. It often includes acts of theft, shoplifting, and burglary. Usually, the stolen goods are of low monetary value, and the perpetrator is a juvenile.
A study published by the U.S. Department of Justice found that:
"Theft is sometimes a dominant part of a peer group value system that will be outgrown by young adulthood. For a small percentage of delinquent youth, theft is a central part of a developing criminal lifestyle."
This implies that while most young people will outgrow this behavior, some require additional support to overcome it.
It involves deliberately destroying property, often in a public place. This can range from graffiti to breaking windows, damaging vehicles, and other forms of destruction. It is a serious offense with severe consequences, including criminal fines and even jail time in extreme cases.
The statistics surrounding juvenile vandalism arrests are sobering. Out of all minors arrested for acts of vandalism, an estimated 107,300 were juveniles and made up 38% of all arrests.
Moreover, the statistics indicate that a significant portion of those arrested for vandalism -40%- were younger than 15 years old. This suggests that vandalism is particularly prevalent among younger age groups, reinforcing the need for proactive measures to deter youth from engaging in such behavior.
These occur when someone possesses, sells, manufactures, or distributes controlled substances. It is a criminal offense ranging from simple possession to more serious crimes such as drug trafficking.
Research suggests that between 1.9 and 2.4 million young people involved with the juvenile justice system have some form of substance abuse or addiction. Consequently, more juvenile courts acknowledge addiction's role in criminal activities and provide treatment programs where possible and suitable.
This involves purposely or recklessly endangering another individual to cause bodily harm. It can be in the form of vehicular manslaughter or assault. It typically manifests itself in various circumstances depending on the intent, including self-defense, gang-related activities, and more severe crimes.
These include rape, sexual abuse, and possession of child pornography. In some cases, these charges can be brought against adults as well. In 2020, a comparatively small fraction of sexual offenses in the US were perpetrated by youngsters; only about one-fifth (19%) of those charged with sex crimes were juvenile offenders.
It is worth noting that this number does not account for offenses that have gone unreported. Such crimes may be underreported due to a range of factors, including fear and victim blaming.
This type of physical violence or threat of violence does not usually cause serious bodily harm. It involves an attack or threat of physical harm to another individual and is generally considered a misdemeanor.
It is important to remember that even though such offenses are considered minor, they can still have severe consequences if not handled appropriately.
For example, a simple assault charge can result in juvenile court proceedings and potential placement in detention facilities. In extreme cases, the sentence may be increased if the accused is found guilty of aggravated assault or battery, which carries a severe punishment.
Legal Options You Have After a Juvenile Arrest
When facing juvenile delinquency charges, a criminal defense attorney can provide legal counsel and explain your options for defending against criminal charges. Experienced lawyers will be more familiar with the nuances of juvenile cases and the best approach to take in each situation.
In some cases, an experienced attorney may be able to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecuting attorney. This could involve alternative punishments such as community service hours and counseling sessions, payments of fines, or a probation program.
Learn More: What to Do if Your Teen is Charged With a Crime
If the case proceeds to trial, a criminal defense lawyer can provide legal representation and help protect the rights of those facing criminal charges. They may also be able to negotiate a lighter sentence or probation program with the court in exchange for rehabilitation courses, efforts at rehabilitation, and a reduction in criminal activity.
It is important to remember that the juvenile justice system considers the current home situation, mental health, individual circumstances, and the harm to victims before determining a sentence.
Contact a Juvenile Crime Lawyer Today!
While facing criminal charges can be a frightening experience for the accused and their family, it is essential to remember that legal options are available. With the help of experienced legal representation, those charged with a juvenile crime can begin to rebuild their future and make smarter decisions to ensure a brighter future.
Touma Law Group has experienced criminal defense lawyers that specialize in juvenile cases. We can explain the legal process, provide legal counsel and work towards a successful outcome for those facing criminal charges. We offer free consultations and can help you understand your legal options. Contact us today to find out how we can help.