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Photo of attorney William Marcus Wilkerson
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Why do teens break the law?

On Behalf of | Jan 26, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

Parents are often surprised and frustrated – to put it lightly – when their teenagers break the law. This is because parents are thinking about the big picture. A conviction, especially on serious charges, could limit a young person‘s options for education, a career, marriage, housing and much more. A mistake could impact their life for decades to come.

But teenagers often aren’t thinking about this. In fact, one of the reasons that they break the law is just that, in some cases, they haven’t really thought about the long-term ramifications. They simply acted impulsively. If they stopped to think about it, they may have avoided the activity, but they just did not take the time.

The influence of peer pressure

The second reason for many teen crimes is peer pressure. Teenagers want to fit in with their social groups. If the leader of that social group dares them to do something, or if the entire group is also participating in that illegal activity, a teen will be heavily influenced to do the same. They don’t want to risk losing their social standing, even if that means breaking the law.

Monetary limitations

In some situations, crime is due to monetary limitations that young people face. A teenager who doesn’t have a job may shoplift because they can’t afford the things that they want. But there are also many cases of criminal activity that don’t have a monetary root cause, such as shoplifting affordable items just to be part of a peer group or because of the aforementioned peer pressure.

If you’re a parent whose teenager has been arrested, you’re probably very concerned about their future. It’s important to understand why this happens and what legal options you have.