Juvenile delinquency has never been a career path parents hope for their kids to aspire to, but things happen. Youths have to capacity to make minor mistakes that land them with misdemeanor charges, and major mistakes that land them with felony charges. Fortunately, the arrest rates for both violent and non-violent crimes are down since the 1990s. 2016 saw just 2,553 arrests out of every 100,000 youths aged ten to seventeen, an almost 70% drop from the 8,476 arrests out of every 100,000 youths of 1996. Whether your kid has been charged with a violent or non-violent offense, you could probably use some help.
The most lenient punishments are given to non-violent offenses, the most common of which are larceny-theft, simple assault, drug possession or abuse, disorderly conduct, and alcohol abuse.
Theft accounted for the highest percentage of arrest rates in 2016, reaching a total of 15.7% of all juvenile arrests. This includes pick-pocketing, shoplifting, auto-theft, bicycle theft, and reaching into vending machines. Due to this wide spectrum of stealing, penalties for larceny are varied depending on the situation and the item(s) stolen. They can range from fines to community service to commitment to a juvenile detention facility. If you are worried about your child’s larceny charge, speak to a juvenile defense lawyer to ensure your child gets the best option for recovery.
Simple assault describes when a victim is threatened, know they are at risk of being hurt, and actually gets hurt. This differs from aggravated assault or battery in the sense that simple assault relates more to unarmed fights without the intent of serious bodily harm. This is relevant to most fights between youths and is considered a misdemeanor in most jurisdictions. If your child has been charged with simple assault, they could face penalties as serious as jail time. Defenses for simple assault include self-defense, defense of property, accident, or consent.
Drug Possession or Abuse
Drug offenses can describe anything from taking drugs as a minor to selling prescription drugs to being in possession of illegal drugs. Drug crimes range from felonies to misdemeanors, depending on your jurisdiction and the nature of the crime, and none should be taken lightly. Modern youth culture lends itself to substance abuse, with social media making peer pressure and access to drugs easier than ever. A lawyer with experience in juvenile drug crimes can help to get your child’s sentence minimized and connect you with resources to help your child get clean.
Disorderly conduct can be a subjective misdemeanor, as it mainly describes activities that “disturb the peace.” This definition is rather vague and can cover anything from loitering to arguing with authorities to protesting. The defenses for a youth charged with disorderly conduct depends largely on the specific situation, and will ideally be looked over by a lawyer to ensure your child is treated fairly.
Possession or Abuse of Alcohol
Just like drugs, drinking is a large aspect of many youth cultures. This is rarely affected by such things as legal drinking age or concepts of responsible habits. If your child has been charged with underage drinking, possession of alcohol, or an underage DUI (UDD), they may be facing serious charges. UDDs often have lower blood alcohol content limits and high consequences, with a second penalty resulting in up to 90 days in jail in some jurisdiction. Underage possession or UDD charge has the potential to follow your child, which is why enlisting the help of a juvenile defense lawyer is vital for your child to take back control of their life.