February 06, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- Figures compiled by the California Department of Justice's Criminal Justice Statistics Center (and recently released by the non-profit Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice) Corrections shows that the state's juvenile crime rate is now the lowest it has been since comprehensive recordkeeping started in 1954.
The drop in juvenile crime
is particularly noteworthy in that it has continued to fall in spite of widespread economic distress and high rates of poverty, two things that have traditionally foreshadowed rises in violent crime, gang activity, drug crimes and theft.
The lower rate also flies in the face of traditional logic because the rate for the next oldest generation - likely to be the parents of the juveniles in the system - has risen. An increase in the crime of parental-age adults has always indicated a rise in juvenile crime in the past, legal experts note.
While legal experts don't want to look the proverbial gift horse in the mouth by analyzing the topic too much, they do offer several possible reasons as to why the rate of juvenile crime has bucked stereotypes to take a downward turn.
First - and perhaps most significantly - is California's progressive new treatment of instances of simple marijuana possession. In 2011, the state instituted a new punishment scheme for those found in possession of less than one ounce of marijuana or a marijuana derivative. In the past, having even the smallest amount of marijuana was a misdemeanor, but is now a citable offense, punishable by a ticket and fine of $100, similar to a traffic violation, instead of resulting in a criminal record and possible jail time.
That single evolution in the state's criminal code has kept an estimated 9,000 California teens and children
out of custody, having a huge impact on the overall juvenile crime rate. This too is something that has confounded many pundits and legal experts, though, as it runs counterintuitive to traditional lawmaking methodology. Legislators have traditionally passed laws that are increasingly "tough" on crime with the hope that it will have a deterrent effect; the opposite seems to be true here.
Another possible reason why the crime rate has lowered is tangential to the transformation of minor marijuana possession to a citable offense; there has been a related decrease in the number of probation and parole violations.
Proceed with caution
Some would be tempted to take the fact that juvenile crime rates have decreased as an indicator that the California criminal justice system that law enforcement has "softened" where juveniles are concerned, or that juvenile offenses don't have an impact once the age of majority is reached. Both of those assumptions are most certainly false.
Not only do police agencies still actively arrest juveniles, juvenile crimes continue to have an impact far beyond the time of commission. Criminal acts are not "youthful indiscretions" or examples of "wild oats" being sown: they can cost a young person countless opportunities to get a better education, secure a job, qualify for loans and find housing.
If your minor-aged loved one has been arrested and is now facing criminal charges, do not become complacent; an aggressive defense is needed to ensure that constitutional rights are protected and consequences are minimized. A criminal defense attorney with in-depth knowledge of California's judicial system can make a huge difference in helping reach both of those goals.
Article provided by The Law Offices of Mark J. Werksman
Visit us at www.werksmanlaw.com---
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