Juvenile crimes are often relatively minor, including petty theft or property damage. But others can be far more serious, including violent crimes or sex crimes. For juveniles arrested and charged, the damage of a criminal record can be lasting, reducing educational opportunities and making it more likely that the youth offender will land in prison later in life. New research shows that the number one risk factor leading juveniles to criminal activity is the lack of role models. According to recent reports and a panel discussion that took place in Montgomery, children who do not have proper role models including parents, relatives or community mentors may be likely to lose hope and commit crimes.
In the event of a juvenile arrest, defendants should consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. In addition to challenging the underlying charges, an experienced advocate can help reduce penalties and pursue alternative sentencing options. Our Birmingham juvenile defense attorneys are experienced in representing defendants charged with crimes ranging from shoplifting and robbery, to property crimes, violent crimes, and sex crime.
A recent panel discussion focused on curbing juvenile crimes focused on prevention. The panel included members from the Central Alabama Community Foundation, Hope Inspired Ministries, and the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office and the Montgomery Police Department. What is happening in Montgomery is also a reflection of the juvenile crimes being committed in Birmingham. According to many of these groups, one way to reduce juvenile crimes is to help them find resources and mentors.
One of the high risk indicators for juveniles is the lack of a father in the household. Other high risks include having a family member, including a father, who is already in jail. Many at-risk juveniles will be approached to sell drugs or join gangs. Without a role model helping them make decisions, they may not understand the importance of education, or the risks of turning to a career criminal life. According to the Montgomery district attorney, recent homicides in the state have involved teenagers under the age of 17. This points to the reality that teenagers are becoming involved in serious crimes at very young ages.
In the state of Alabama, two recent homicides involved teenagers under the age of 18. In the first, a 13-year-old was charged with capital murder. In another case, a 15-year-old was charged with the murder of another teenager. Often in these cases, youth are becoming involved in petty theft and other criminal activity when they are even younger. Without hope or role models, many of these juveniles lose sight of any real future opportunities. According to panelists, juveniles are also committing crimes at an even younger age. One way to prevent these crimes is for mentors and after school programs to play a role for children as soon as possible.
For juveniles in Birmingham and throughout Alabama, understanding the risks is important to prevention. Those who have been charged should also seek out legal support and counsel to help them preserve their rights and future opportunities.