Despite a decline in the number of juveniles arrested in 2008, juvenile offenders still constituted 16 percent of all violent crime arrests and 26 percent of all property crime arrests for that year.
Juveniles, or persons younger than age 18, were commonly arrested for arson, burglary, robbery, motor vehicle theft, liquor law violations, drug abuse, vandalism, disorderly conduct and assaults. Arrests rose from 2006-2008 for property crime offenses such as larceny-theft and burglary. All of these offenses are considerably lower than the peak arrest year of 1994.
Factors Leading to Juvenile Crimes
Many factors account for juvenile crime, with fractured families, peer pressure, physical and sexual abuse, teenage parents, poverty, lack of community involvement and activities, substance abuse, and failure in school cited as common causes. Gang activity among juveniles is a matter of national concern with the National Gang Center estimating that 32.4 percent of all communities reporting gang problems in 2008. Gang membership also rose six percent from 2002 to 2008.
Other common reasons for a juvenile's arrest include illegal possession of marijuana or prescription medication. Many youths also land in court for possession of a fake ID and underage drinking .
Consequences of Juvenile Convictions
Although the majority of youths arrested are referred to juvenile courts or other agencies, these youths are at risk for recidivist behavior that could land them in adult court before they reach age 18, especially for violent crimes. The involvement of youths in crime underscores the larger problem of the impact convictions will have on them as they grow older and try to enter the work force.
A juvenile offender may not be able to attend school or participate in extracurricular activities, placing him or her back on the streets and subject to gang involvement. In some cases, the jurisdiction of the court may extend beyond the youth's 18th birthday with a probation violation causing the offender to be taken into custody. Particular offenses may also prevent juveniles from acquiring a driver's license and affect their ability to find work or achieve their educational goals. Legal custody of the youth may also change, depending upon the juvenile's particular offense or repeated pattern of criminal behavior.
When a Juvenile Faces Criminal Charges
Any time a juvenile has been arrested or charged with an offense, it is essential that they retain the services of an experienced Orlando criminal defense attorney to protect their rights. Being charged with a crime doesn't make the minor a bad person, but the minor needs a legal advocate to lessen or eliminate the impact that the charges will have upon that young person's future.