On behalf of Rosenblum Schwartz & Fry on Thursday, July 25, 2019.
Teenagers and young adults don’t have fully formed frontal lobes. The part of the brain that may help people understand the consequences of their actions is still in the process of developing and maturing until people are in their mid-20s. In a way, it is particularly difficult for parents that the bodies of teenagers mature more quickly than their brains do.
Teens feel and even look like adults in some cases, but they don’t yet think like adults. That could lead your child to make some decisions that have criminal consequences without duly considering the potential outcome of those mistakes.
It is common for teenagers to experiment with alcohol or drugs. They could choose to drive in irresponsible manners or even do something truly reckless like stealing a vehicle for a joyride or breaking into somebody’s house to vandalize it. There is no question that youthful offenses can have a negative impact on the victims. However, the mistakes your teenager makes could also have a devastating effect on their life and future.
The courts could try them like an adult
There was a time not so long ago when most teenagers, even those accused of violent offenses, could expect to face charges as a juvenile. However, with increased concern about gang violence and juvenile drug activity in the 90s, it has become increasingly common for teenagers to face criminal charges as adults in the standard criminal justice system.
It doesn’t take an attorney to understand how facing adult criminal charges could be extremely detrimental to the future of your child. First of all, that could mean facing adult consequences, including incarceration in general population and a permanent criminal record. Beyond that, there’s also the potential impact on your child’s educational future and potential career.
The consequences of a conviction as a young adult could persist for the rest of your child’s life. A criminal record could decrease their earning potential and increase the likelihood of your child remaining at least partially dependent on you for support well into adulthood. In other words, it will benefit you and your child to take these charges as seriously as the state will.
An experienced juvenile justice attorney could help
Missouri has a well-respected juvenile justice program that many other states look to for improving their own systems. The focus of the juvenile courts is to help rehabilitate young offenders and prevent them from pursuing a life of crime.
In many cases, there is the opportunity to have records sealed or expunged if your child avoids getting into legal trouble again. Other times, it may be possible to seek therapy or treatment as an alternative to criminal penalties. The right attorney can help you explore your options and make a choice based on what will work best for you and your teenage child.