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3 things to know about mental illness and juvenile crime

| Mar 30, 2020 | Criminal Defense

If your child has struggled with substance abuse, mental illness or personality disorders, it can be a daily challenge. You may worry that these struggles will put them at odds with the law, and you may wonder what options would be available to you. What might your child’s experience in the criminal justice system look like if they committed a crime? Would it possible for them to avoid jail time?

With your child’s future in the balance, it is important to keep several facts in mind.

Mental health issues are common in the criminal justice system

Studies have shown that between 65% and 70% of juvenile offenders have some form of mental health or behavioral disorder. This may be because they have a more difficult time considering the consequences of their actions or have difficulty tempering their emotions.

Incarceration can make mental health more challenging, not less

Time in a detention center takes your child away from their routines. If they are already receiving treatment for their mental health issues, incarceration could interrupt their current therapy or medication.

Jail time is not the only option

If your child is struggling with mental health issues and ends up facing criminal charges, it can be easy to think that a guilty verdict will make jail time inevitable. However, incarceration is only one path.

Diversion programs could be an option for a struggling young adult or adolescent. These programs can include a warning, therapy or community service. They can keep your child out of the criminal justice system while offering the support they need to change the path they are currently on.

Treatment for substance abuse issues or mental illnesses that contributed to criminal behavior can help a child better address their mental health going forward. It can also prevent these issues from causing future legal concerns.

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