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Second chances or scarred futures for underage crimes?

On Behalf of | Jun 15, 2024 | Criminal Law

The teenage years can be a rollercoaster for parents, especially when a child exhibits rebellious behavior. It’s quite easy for a developing teenager to make poor decisions in their rebellion. Unfortunately, youthful missteps can have long-lasting repercussions, especially if a teenager gets in trouble with the law.

When exploration and experimenting tip over into criminal activity, a parent may wonder if their teen will get a second chance or if their future might be scarred due to underage crimes. How does the juvenile justice system determine appropriate punishments for underage crimes?

While a juvenile offender might be given a lighter sentence compared to adults, the long-term penalties can still be significant and life-altering. As such, parents ought to understand the consequences of various juvenile crimes that might completely alter a teenager’s adult life trajectory.

Underage drinking

Underage drinking is arguably one of the easiest vices for teenagers to engage in. All it takes is hanging out in the wrong circles and peer pressure for a teenager to partake in drinking competitions for the sake of fitting in. The immediate penalties for underage drinking might seem trivial because all a teen has to do is:

  • Pay the stipulated fine
  • Participate in community service
  • Complete a mandatory alcohol education program

However, having a criminal record could prevent this same teenager from getting into their dream college. The more prestigious and sought-after the institution is, the stricter the admission criteria may be. Furthermore, future employers might pass over applicants with criminal records even if they’re qualified for the position.

Drug use and possession

Self-medication has become a widespread practice among teenagers and young adults. More youth are self-diagnosing themselves with various mood and mental disorders and turning to drugs as a coping mechanism.

Teenagers who are found using or possessing drugs for whatever reason may be required to complete mandatory rehabilitation programs. However, the long-term consequences can extend far beyond the initial punishment. A criminal record for drug use can disqualify deserving individuals from securing federal student aid. This can make higher education a fleeting dream.

Parents whose teens find themselves in trouble with the law can intervene to help ensure their kids’ futures aren’t scarred by poor decision-making. With appropriate legal assistance, parents can explore legal options in order to secure the most favorable outcome under the circumstances.

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