Legal trouble as a youth is often a strong predictor of legal problems for many adults caught in the grip of the court system. Studies have shown adults who were charged as juveniles are more likely to be charged for repeat offenses later in life. The most at-risk group of young people are between 15 and 25.
In an ideal world, our society would look at those statistics and recognize that young people are bound to make a few bad decisions. A compassionate system would allow for lesser charges to be expunged or allow records to be sealed after a person reaches adulthood so that they might get a fresh start in life.
Unfortunately, only some states have provisions in place to seal or expunge the records related to juvenile charges. In many cases, these records can continue to affect your child's life, as can the crimes themselves.
Read on to find out about some of the possible long-term consequences of juvenile crime.
Juvenile Crime and the Cycle of Disadvantages
Not all kids who have faced charges as juveniles will go on to lead troubled lives as adults. A number of variables go into the impacts of juvenile crime, including the minor's ability to resume their education and state laws regarding record expungement. Having an experienced lawyer can also help the juvenile from the moment they have faced charges.
Many of the possible long-term consequences of juvenile crime are part of a cycle. In other words, one consequence of juvenile crime may lead to other consequences. We're going to talk about these consequences and how they can quickly add up.
We've all heard the saying, "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time." But what about if you can't foot the bill?
Regardless of actual jail-time, many juveniles who have been arrested or charged with a crime are required to pay fines. These fines might go directly to the city or they might cover rehabilitation costs. No matter what they're for, they can add up quickly.
For families that can't afford to pay off these fines immediately, interest will often accrue. This will drive up the overall expenses. In many states, that debt will follow the juvenile in question once they reach the age of 18.
What this means is that your child may begin adulthood with the burden of debt, all because of a crime they committed when they were young.
Education and juvenile crime are often closely tied to one another.
Statistically, people are 63% more likely to be incarcerated if they have dropped out of school. These numbers are compared to people who have finished their high school education and received a four-year degree.
The flip side is that young people who wind up in legal trouble are about 38% more likely to drop out of school than those who avoid running afoul of the law. In other words, more education tends to lessen the likelihood of arrest. At the same time, being arrested tends to reduce the chances a young person will continue to pursue their education.
The dropout rate varies depending on factors such as race and economic standing. For minority or underprivileged kids, these disadvantages tend to increase.
Having a juvenile record can also make it more difficult to receive a college education. Depending on the nature of the crime, individuals with a criminal record may not receive the financial aid they need to attend college.
Finally, without a good lawyer, it can be difficult to understand state laws regarding record sealing or expungement. If a juvenile record is not sealed, it will be visible to college acceptance boards, who may judge the juvenile unfairly.
For individuals who have undergone punishment for juvenile crimes, finding employment may be tricky. This is especially true for those who have not completed an education after they have been charged or served time.
Even with an education, employment can be difficult to acquire if the juvenile record is still available for employers to view. Getting that record sealed will often help, but there are a few circumstances that it may not be enough.
For example, sealed records are still available to court systems, law enforcement, and the government. Without expungement, it may be difficult to find work in any of these areas.
As mentioned earlier, the odds of committing a crime in adulthood go up after committing a crime as a juvenile. We're going to discuss the ways that the above factors may lead to future crime.
Individuals who have gone into debt, cannot further their education, and cannot get a job are in a very tough position. Many of the resources needed to live a healthy, happy, and lawful life become even more difficult to obtain.
Committing crimes for money may feel like the only way to get by for people who have entered into the cycle of crime and punishment, especially from a young age.
Where to Seek Help
If your child is facing charges for a juvenile crime, do not panic. It is not too late to turn things around and help your child through this difficult time in their life.
First, be mindful of how you talk to your child. They may have committed a crime, but that doesn't make them a criminal first and a child second.
Second, look for a defense attorney with experience in juvenile law. The sooner you do this, the better. Youths are usually unaware of their rights and should never be allowed to proceed in any legal hearings or other processes without a lawyer.
With over 17 years of juvenile law experience, Montgomery County Attorney Andrea M. Kolski has worked with hundreds of young people and their families. Andrea is uniquely qualified with expertise in all areas of Texas criminal law.
In a state where juveniles can easily be charged as adults and handed life sentences for crimes committed as a teen, it's critical for anyone facing charges to seek expert legal help. With the right defense, your charges could be dismissed or lowered so you can move on with your life.
If you or someone you know need a defense attorney well-versed in juvenile court cases, contact Andrea M. Kolski today.