Most Common Juvenile Crimes

Young people may commit crimes. Some of these crimes are the same as adult offenders commit while others are based more on their age or other factors. Individuals who are facing conviction of juvenile crimes may wish to contact a criminal defense lawyer to learn about their rights in the juvenile justice system.


One of the most common juvenile crimes is stealing, otherwise known as larceny. They may steal from other people or stores. They may target items that are easily disposable and typically inexpensive. These crimes may go unsuspected or unreported. The adolescent may increase the value of items that he or she steals if there have not been consequences for the petty theft. Statistics indicate that theft is the most common juvenile offense.


Another common juvenile crime is assault. Teens are more likely to get in fights. They may be referred to a resource officer if the fight occurred at school. They could assault victims as part of other crimes, such as stealing or purse snatching. Some juvenile offenders act like bullies at school and may include physical violence along with emotional abuse or taunting. People who get involved in the juvenile justice system may have problems with authority figures, which may contribute to an altercation with an adult.

Illegal Purchases

It is a common rite of passage for teens to engage in some risky behavior or wanting to take part in activities for which they are too young. Teens may try to make illegal purchases such as buying cigarettes or alcohol. They may try to convince older people to buy these items for them, or they may try to use fake identification to secure these purchases.
In other situations, they may get involved with drugs. They may be arrested for possession. Young people are sometimes targeted by gangs to use as drug distributors who take illegal substances back and forth between various locations. Adolescents may become addicted to drugs.

Other Drug and Alcohol Crimes

Teens may commit other drug and alcohol crimes. They may be charged with possession of alcohol or drugs. They may be arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct. Alcohol-related car crashes are common. Teens may be arrested for DUI. Many states have zero tolerance laws in which any amount of alcohol is considered legally impaired or a very small amount like a blood alcohol concentration of 0.02.

Violent Crimes

Teens may take part in violent crimes. They may be victims of abuse and may lash out. They may be addicted to drugs and commit violent crimes like assault or robbery to get money for drugs. They may get into turf battles with other drug dealers. Adolescents may use firearms and assault or kill others with them.

Teens may commit aggravated assault in which they cause serious bodily harm to victims or use a firearm during the attack.
Teens may commit school shootings, other mass murders or other violent crimes. Teens may also commit other violent crimes like auto theft.

Sexual Offenses

Some teens may commit sexual offenses. They may have been sexually abused and may act out sexually with others. They may lack judgment and may sext pornographic pictures of themselves or others, which may be prosecuted as possession of child pornography. They may commit rape or sexual assault. Some teens get involved in prostitution and may be brought into sex trafficking.

Status Offenses

Some juvenile crimes are based on the teen’s age and laws that relate to them due to this factor. For example, they may be charged with truancy if they miss too many days of school. They may be charged with curfew violations if they are out late at night. They may face charges for incorrigibility if they refuse to obey their parents. Approximately half of all juvenile arrests are due to disorderly conduct, drug abuse, simple assault, theft or curfew violations.


Teens may commit acts of vandalism by themselves or with others. They may add graffiti to buildings, homes or other property.

Special Considerations for Juvenile Offenses

Many juvenile crimes are considered misdemeanor offenses. However, juveniles may commit serious felony offenses. Juvenile crimes are generally not punished in the same way as adult offenses. The focus in the juvenile justice system is to rehabilitate the juvenile offender. The juvenile may have alternative punishments to incarceration in a juvenile detention center, such as community service, educational courses, rehabilitation courses, payments of fines or rehabilitation.
If your child is facing a juvenile offense, a criminal defense lawyer may be able to help.

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Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication at the time it was written. It is not intended to provide legal advice or suggest a guaranteed outcome as individual situations will differ and the law may have changed since publication. Readers considering legal action should consult with an experienced lawyer to understand current laws they may affect a case.

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