5 of the Most Common Juvenile Crimes

5 common juvenile crimes

What You Need to Know About Teens and Crime

Crimes committed by juveniles, which most states consider to be under the age of 18, have been on a steady decline since the mid-'90s. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the crime rate for this age group declined by 38 percent between 1980 and 2012.

Although younger offenders often receive less severe punishments than adults, committing a juvenile crime can seriously impact a teenager's future, particularly in the areas of career, education and relationships. One way to avoid and deter such a situation is to understand the most common juvenile crimes.

This crime category includes petty theft, which is usually defined as theft of objects amounting to $500 or less. Some states consider shoplifting a distinct crime.

Simple Assault
"Simple assault" is defined differently in each state. Broadly speaking, any action that harms or threatens another person in a non-serious manner can be classified as a simple assault.

Drug Abuse Violations
These violations include the possession, use, distribution or manufacture of controlled substances without a legal reason.

Underage Drinking
In terms of sheer numbers, underage drinking is one of the most common juvenile crimes. Any minor under the legal drinking age who is found in possession or under the influence of alcohol can be charged with this crime.

Vandalism includes the intentional destruction of others' property, including but not limited to breaking windows, keying cars and spraying graffiti. Penalties for vandalism include restitution, fines, probation, diversion programs and, in extreme cases, detention.

Juvenile criminals are treated differently by the law than adults. They are tried under the juvenile justice system, which aims to rehabilitate the offender rather than punish. However, repeat offenders can be sentenced harshly. If you need more information on laws concerning teens, a lawyer can help explain your rights and options.