Factors Influencing Youth Crime and Juvenile Delinquency

Common Juvenile Crimes

In its most simple terms, juvenile delinquency is the act of committing a crime at a young age. A juvenile delinquent is a young person under the age of 18 who breaks a state or federal law when they commit a crime. Even though these younger delinquents might not necessarily suffer the same consequences as an adult in the same situation, these crimes can have a serious affect on the child’s future, causing problems that manifest in the child’s future career, education success, and in the health of their relationships.

The good news is that the number crimes committed by juveniles has been decreasing since the mid-90s. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the juvenile crime rate has decreased by over 38% since 1980. However, children are still committing these crimes, and the ones who do are suffering negative consequences when convicted. Some of the most common juvenile crimes include:

  • Shoplifting/larceny

Shoplifting is usually defined as the unauthorized removal of merchandise from a store or place of business without paying for it. Shoplifting is a type of larceny, which simply refers to the illegal theft of personal property of another person or business. Common examples of larceny include stealing bicycles, motor vehicle parts and accessories, shoplifting, pocket-picking, or stealing property without the use of force or fraud. Factors that motivate kids and teens to shoplift include peer pressure, boredom, a need or perceived need, and anxiety or depression.

The legal definition of simple assault is the intent to cause physical harm to someone or the attempt to physically injure another person. A simple assault typically involves one of two situations: a failed battery attempt or a threatening act. In a failed battery attempt, the individual tries to cause physical harm to another individual. In a threatening act, the individual brought fear to another person that battery would happen. In order to convict a defendant of simple assault, the prosecution would have to prove that the defendant had intent to threaten or scare an individual into thinking they were going to be harmed. There must also be reasonable apprehension, meaning the victim perceived that the defendant could realistically harm them. Lastly, the victim must have been harmed in some way, which can include physical injury and fear that they would be harmed. If the prosecution is unable to prove these factors, they will not have a case.

  • Drug abuse violations

A drug abuse violation is considered a violation of the laws that prohibit the production, distribution, and/or use of controlled substances as well as the equipment or devices used to prepare these drugs for use. Some of the drugs most commonly abused by children and teens, in addition to alcohol, are marijuana, prescription medications, over-the-counter substances, and “spice.” If you believe your child is using drugs, it is important to have a conversation with them and open the doors for communication. It is also essential that they understand the risks they are taking, both legally and to their own developing bodies. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration offers a free, confidential, 24/7 national helpline for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.

  • Underage drinking

While it is easy to dismiss the severity of underage drinking, doing so does not make the consequences any less impactful for a young person’s wellbeing. It might seem like good fun, but underage drinking can lead to other risky behavior and has been known to get children and teens involved in dangerous situations and aggressive behavior, such as causing property damage, injuries, and other forms of violence. Sadly, the truth of the matter is that underage drinking is common, and in 2019, about 24.6% of 14-15-year-olds reported having at least one drink, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Furthermore, in 2019, 7 million young people ages 12 to 20 reported they had drank alcohol beyond “just a few sips” in the past month. This makes underage drinking another illegal act that juveniles are prone to committing.

  • Vandalism

Vandalism is an action involving purposeful destruction of or damage to public or private property. Common examples of vandalism that children and teens might partake in include salting lawns, cutting trees without permission, breaking windows, egg throwing, arson, tagging, spraying paint on others’ properties, tire slashing, placing glue into locks, ransacking a property, keying paint, and flooding a house by leaving the water running. In order to be charged with vandalism, the prosecution must prove both intent and malice during the act. Sometimes, children and teens make poor decisions, whether they are succumbing to peer pressure or simply acting out of turn, and The Law Office of Brian C. Andritch strongly believes these kids deserve representation the same way adults do.

If your child or teen has found themselves in legal trouble and is in need of representation, call The Law Office of Brian C. Andritch at (559) 484-2112 or contact us online.

What Are the Main Types of Juvenile Delinquency?

We know that juveniles are committing crimes, and we know it is essential for them to have legal representation when they find themselves in hot water, but let’s dig a little deeper into the main types of delinquency to better understand why children and teens might be committing these acts. Howard S. Becker is an American sociologist who is highly revered for his studies in the fields of occupations, education, deviance, and art. He has referred to four types of delinquencies:

  • Individual delinquency

This term refers to delinquency in which only one individual is involved in committing the delinquent act and its cause is an internal factor within the delinquent. When it comes to individual delinquency, most explanations come from psychiatrists who believe the behavior stems from certain damaging family interaction patterns.

  • Group-supported delinquency

This type of delinquency is often committed in companionship with others. In children and teens, this might be the reason behind succumbing to peer pressures and committing uncharacteristic acts for the sake of “fitting in.” Group-supported delinquency signifies a learned behavior.

  • Organized delinquency

Delinquency that is committed by formally organized groups is considered organized delinquency. In these situations, specific and often dangerous values are instilled in an individual through their belonging in a group. When this occurs, performing negative actions could result in positive consequences for one’s status in the group, which is contrary to the progression of the individual’s status in society as a whole. For example, if your child or teen has found themselves participating in illegal gang activity, their livelihoods might be victims of a pattern or organized delinquency, and they would do well to break this pattern as soon as possible.

  • Situational delinquency

This form of delinquency is different from how we often think of delinquency. When a child or teen partakes in delinquency in a situational manner, it is often due to adverse conditions or circumstances that might be or feel out of their control. For example, if they are hungry and feel unable to obtain their next bite to eat in a legal or ethical way, they might resort to theft.

Regardless of what crime a juvenile might be on trial for or the factors that influenced the crime, we believe they deserve legal representation to produce the most favorable outcome. Call The Law Office of Brian C. Andritch at (559) 484-2112 or contact us online to get the defense you or your child needs.

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