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Rate of juvenile arrests may be highest in over 40 years

As many Michigan parents know, it is no surprise that kids make mistakes. They are testing boundaries and limitations and may not fully understand the consequences associated with their mistakes. However, as a child moves into adulthood, the penalties of a misstep can become very serious and involve jail time and a criminal record. According to a recent study, children and young adults under 23-years-old are being arrested for misdemeanors and felonies at a much more significant rate than ever before.

The findings of the study show that by the time a person reaches the age of 23, over 40 percent of them have been arrested for something other than a traffic violation. The study did not make a distinction between violent crimes committed and minor infractions, but the numbers reported are alarmingly high. This is especially true when compared with the results of this test in 1965, the last time this topic was studied.

It has been suggested that a significant factor in this increase may be linked to undiagnosed mental health illnesses. A nonprofit group called the Coalition for Juvenile Justice has reported that up to 75 percent of juveniles in jail or prison suffer from mental health problems.

Whenever a child or young adult commits a crime, it can have a serious effect on his or her permanent record. Whether a person has an undiagnosed mental illness or has simply made a mistake, they may be eligible to receive educational or medical assistance instead of a hefty fine or jail time if appropriate.

Because a felony conviction can have a lasting impact on a person's career and other opportunities, it would be preferable to minimize the punishments with the help of an experienced defense attorney.

Source: ABC News, "Study: Significant Number of Young Americans Get Arrested," Carrie Gann, Dec. 19, 2011

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