Legal Guide

The most common crimes committed by children

Young people do commit crimes, offences and violations that may result in juvenile detention, informal probation or counselling. The most common criminal offences committed by teens and young people vary and include both non-violent and violent crimes like fraud, sexual assault and deception. In this article, we look at common crimes that young people commit and offer guidance on what to do if your child is a juvenile offender.

Common crimes committed by children

Juvenile crimes can be the same as adult offender crimes, while others are based more on age or other factors. The most common crimes young people commit include:

1. Larceny/theft

Larceny, also known as theft, is the most common juvenile offence. Young people may steal from stores (shoplifting) or other people (stealing from lockers and backpacks). They usually target items that are typically inexpensive or easily disposable. Most theft crimes committed by children go unreported or unsuspected.

2. Vandalism

Young people may commit acts of vandalism with others or by themselves. These acts include:

  • Adding graffiti to buildings, homes or other property
  • Drawing on public restroom walls
  • Cutting auto tires
  • Keying a vehicle

3. Alcohol offences and other drug crimes

The legal drinking age in Australia is 18. So, individuals must be 18 or older to purchase or drink alcohol in a licensed venue. It is quite common for teenagers to make illegal purchases of alcohol, resulting in alcohol offences and other drug crimes.

As a result, they may be charged with underage purchase and possession of alcohol. They may also be arrested for underage consumption of alcohol. Other typical cases under this are drunk and disorderly conduct and the provision of alcohol to other underage persons.

4. Disorderly conduct

Pre-teens and teenagers can display disrespectful behaviour in many ways, some of which may be criminal offences. For instance, they may curse at a teacher in school or fight in public. They may also engage in indecent exposure, flashing or mooning. It’s essential to note that disrespectful behaviour is a common part of teenage development that usually passes.

5. Simple assault or battery

The likelihood of teens getting into fights is quite high. Unfortunately, it may result in an assault or battery charge. For example, a child may fight a fellow student at school or act like a bully toward others. They may also participate in physical disagreements with parents or shove and push a person. All these are violent criminal offences.

6. Possession of marijuana

According to the National Drug Strategy Household Survey, 36.4% of youth aged between 12 and 17 years have used cannabis on at least one occasion. This survey shows that the prevalence of marijuana use among the youth is quite high.

Juvenile offenders may be charged with possessing small amounts of marijuana and smoking cannabis in public places, among other criminal offences.

7. Tobacco offences

Like alcohol and marijuana, tobacco is another common drug that teenagers may experiment with and abuse. Common tobacco offences include buying tobacco illegally or smoking and chewing tobacco in school.

8. Other criminal offences

Other common criminal offences young people commit are:

  • Curfew violations
  • School disciplinary offence
  • Traffic violations
  • Truancy
  • Criminal nuisance
  • Fraud
  • Harassment

What to do

No parent or guardian wants to see their child arrested, but teenagers get in trouble. In 2021, 819 young people were in detention on an average night in Australia, with 83% aged between 10 and 17.

If your teenager has been charged with a criminal offence, you may wish to contact a lawyer to represent you. Criminal defence lawyers understand the juvenile justice system and can protect your child’s rights.

To learn more about juvenile crimes and offences, get in touch with Central Coast Lawyers.


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