When a minor commits a crime it is addressed differently in the court system. Special courts and judges are set up for handling juvenile delinquency cases. This is done to protect the minors from the harsh realities of adult court and sentencing.
It is the belief of the legal system that minors who commit crimes are not completely aware of their actions. They believe the thought and decision-making process of a minor is not fully developed and the court wishes to approach these cases in a different manner. In many circumstances, a minor can overcome the crime that was committed and go on to lead an adult life that is crime free.
It is only under special circumstances that the court will allow a minor to be tried as an adult because the system prefers rehabilitating minors instead of punishment.
What Causes A Minor To Turn To Crime?
Turning to criminal acts is often a result of other issues in the life of a minor. It is because of this the court system tries to approach criminal acts differently with underage offenders than with adults.
Some of the reasons that are most common for a minor to turn to juvenile delinquency include:
There are a variety of reasons related to schooling that can lead a minor to criminal activity. Truancy is one of the main reasons. When a child misses a lot of schools they do not reap the benefits of the education or learn the discipline of attending school each day.
When a minor struggle to learn or has a parent that is simply not interested in making sure that the child attends school regularly, that child can eventually end up in situations that lead to criminal activity. These issues can be approached and corrected and the child can move on to leading a life crime-free.
Lack of food, clothing or a secure place to stay can also lead to criminal activity. Children will turn to steal when they are hungry. If a minor is in a position to not have their most basic needs met, there is a high potential for many types of criminal activity to take place.
Substance Abuse – Home Life
When there is a home life that has substance abuse taking place within the home, there is a high risk for criminal activity by the minors in that home. Crimes may be committed to getting necessities that are not being provided, or they may be committed to helping their caregiver support their habits. When substance abuse is in a home there is less guidance for the minors as well.
Substance Abuse – Personal
When there is substance abuse at home there is a high risk for substance abuse in the minor. When a teen is using drugs or alcohol there is a significantly higher risk for criminal activity. This is for two reasons. First, the minor will commit crimes so that they can support their habit. The second reason is that the decision-making process in the minor is altered and they may do things that they have not actually thought through.
It is much easier to influence someone to commit a crime when they are under the influence of a mind-altering substance because they do not have the thought process to make the right decision.
Physical Abuse At Home
When a child or teen is being physically abused at home it is not unusual for them to act out when away from home. This is generally in the form of more violent crimes against people or property. Assaults of all types of vandalism are often associated with physical abuse at home.
Lack Of Adult Interaction
Children are influenced by those around them. That is the natural order of things. Children who do not have an adult influence in their life to teach them right from wrong, encourage them to stay within the law, or just be a presence in their lives are more prone to criminal activity. An adult influence helps children make the right decision in all situations.
Peer Pressure – Neighborhood Influence
The people that the minor associates with can have a dramatic effect on what choices they make when they are away from home. Peer pressure is a very real thing, and minors will often act out in front of their “friends” so that they feel accepted and are a part of a group.
In more dangerous neighborhoods you may also see children acting out in fear of gang activity. Minors make choices to protect themselves or to impress gang members to protect their own safety. Peer influence and personal safety can lead to a life of crime for any minor.
Of course, there may be many other factors that can contribute to a minor violating the law. Because these circumstances can be the deciding factor in breaking the law or not, the court system looks very carefully at the entire situation when reviewing a case involving a minor.
Why You Need The Right Criminal Attorney For Your Juvenile
Any criminal case involving a minor requires the right type of legal representation. Parents or guardians of an accused minor should seek out a Waukesha criminal attorney that has a dedicated department to juvenile crimes. An attorney that is familiar with the juvenile justice system will be able to provide the best representation for your child.
The juvenile justice system is different than the adult system. The focus of the courts is to rehabilitate and help the child turn their lives around. However, the court must be made to understand the circumstances of the crime and the life of the accused so that the best decisions can be made about the case. An attorney who works with accused minors on a regular basis understands these requirements and will be able to aggressively represent your child in court.
Securing quality representation from a Waukesha criminal attorney that represents minors will help your child obtain the best possible outcome from their trial.