Young people who commit illegal offenses before reaching legal adulthood are at risk of entering the world’s largest prison system, losing their freedom and ending up burdened with a criminal record that can threaten their educational and employment opportunities. In the U.S., thousands of people under the age of 18 get arrested in an average year.
A juvenile court may order a minor convicted of committing an underage offense to perform community service, pay a fine, remain in home confinement or even incarcerate them in a juvenile correction facility. In extreme circumstances like murder or rape, a judge may decide to transfer the case outside the juvenile justice system and treat the child as an adult. Juvenile court cases can be tricky to navigate, which is why you need the knowledge and guidance an experienced attorney can provide.
Has Juvenile Crime Increased or Decreased?
According to a report published by the National Center for Juvenile Justice, courts with juvenile jurisdiction handled an estimated 722,600 cases in 2019. The makeup of these was as follows.
- Person offenses, such as assault: 33%
- Property offenses, such as burglary and vandalism: 30%
- Public order offenses, such as disorderly conduct: 24%
- Drug offenses, such as buying or selling illegal substances: 13%
While the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice notes that juvenile arrests in California have been on the decline, those who get arrested are facing harsher punishment. Their research points to a need to investigate and reform the systemic factors leading to an increase in arrests resulting in referral, disposition and detention.
Juvenile Crime Risk Factors
Some juvenile crimes, like truancy or underage drinking, often stem from impulsive decision-making. Research has shown that the rational part of the human brain is not fully developed until about age 25, which is why adolescents might act without thinking through the long-term consequences of their decisions.
If your child has friends who engage in delinquent or illegal behavior, they may feel pressured to fit in by going along with the crowd. Or, they may act out in response to bullying and rejection because they have had fewer opportunities to participate in healthy, beneficial social interactions.
Other factors that may put a young person at higher risk of committing a juvenile crime include:
- School suspensions and expulsions
- Academic challenges, including below-average achievement
- A history of emotional and behavioral issues
- Mental health disorders, including trauma and depression
- Substance abuse
Providing Peace of Mind for You and Your Loved Ones
Regardless of the circumstances, your family does not deserve to face the long-lasting ramifications that can accompany juvenile crime in California. If your child is in legal trouble, an experienced Orange County juvenile defense attorney can take the case and help ensure their future stays promising.
As a district attorney and juvenile defense specialist, Katie Walsh has successfully represented some of the most challenging cases. Today, she uses her expertise on the ins and outs of the juvenile court system to tailor legal strategies for her clients’ best interest. You do not have to face the challenges associated with juvenile crime alone. Contact our office today to schedule your complimentary consultation.