Why Juvenile Crime Increases During the Summer in Texas
Juvenile crime rates routinely spike over the summer months in Texas. A Bureau of Justice Statistics study (2014) found that the number of violent and/or property crimes, other than auto theft and robbery, increase over the summer in comparison to other months of the year.
Data available for almost all crime types show that seasonal increases in summer continue. In some parts of Texas, these summer spikes were more than 11 percent higher than spring, autumn, and winter crime rates.
The correlation between crime rates and the summer season are significant. For instance:
- Burglary rates were 11 percent higher in the summer.
- Household larceny rates were 8 percent higher in the summer.
- Motor vehicle theft rates by juveniles increased 9 percent in the summer.
- Domestic violence assaults were 11.5 percent higher in the summer.
- Sexual assault (reported) rates were 10 percent higher in the summer.
- Household larceny rates were 8 percent higher.
- Other assault rates were 4-7 percent higher.
Sociologists write that higher summer temperatures—prompting more Texas youths to go outdoors—and more daylight hours available increase the numbers of youth in the public while increasing the number of hours that Texas homes are unoccupied.
Others postulate that higher summer temperatures induce some youths’ aggressive behaviors.
The more relevant question about increased juvenile crime in the summer months also concerns social and economic factors. In other words, the important question isn’t why juveniles commit more violent and property crimes during the summer. It’s why do juvenile offenders commit these crimes at all?
An array of studies show that criminal behavior rates decline when communities offer more productive ways for teens and young adults to spend time and/or earn money.
Juvenile Crime in Texas Can Result in a Criminal Record
Some teens forget that poor choices can result in criminal punishments. Unfortunately, they learn about crime and punishment the hard way. This post addresses common juvenile crimes committed during the summer months in Texas.
The University of Chicago Crime Lab (2013) determined that summer jobs programs decreased arrest rates for violent crimes by greater than 50 percent in teens at highest risk for committing crimes.
Many other search studies support the correlation between crime and economic equality in Texas and throughout the United States.
Let’s consider six common charges juvenile offenders face during the summer months.
Juvenile Offense #1: Operating a Motor Vehicle Under the Influence
Texas’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for drivers 21 years or older is 0.08 percent. In contrast, there’s zero tolerance for minors’ drinking and driving.
The laws of Texas say that a juvenile offender faces arrest and conviction when he or she drives after consuming any alcohol. A teen arrested for drunk driving in Texas often faces related charges, e.g. underage consumption or possession of drugs or alcohol or fake ID.
Juvenile Offense #2: Possession of Marijuana or Other Drug Offenses
Many juvenile arrests concern marijuana and/or other drug-related offenses. It’s much more common for today’s teens to have issues with drugs. Common prescription medicines, e.g. Xanax, or marijuana usage and possession crimes increase during the summer months in Texas.
While simple possession of marijuana is commonly considered as a minor offense, the truth is that any conviction of a juvenile for a drug-related offense may affect the offender’s future educational plans, eligibility for employment, driving privileges, etc.
Juvenile Offense #3: Sexual Assault
Prosecutors are tough on sexual assault crimes at both juvenile and adult levels. A juvenile may be tried as an adult in some cases for alleged sexual assault and other crimes.
A juvenile sexual assault case is often quite complex. For many reasons, any juvenile facing sexual assault charges should immediately consult an experienced Texas criminal defense lawyer.
Juvenile Offense #4: Criminal Traffic Offenses
Many common driving offenses, e.g. running a red light or speeding, are considered non-criminal violations in Texas. However, some traffic-related offenses, such as DWI or failure to stop at an accident scene (hit and run) may lead to criminal charges against the juvenile driver.
Juvenile Offense #5: Theft or Shoplifting
Theft crimes by juvenile offenders also rise during the summer months in Texas. The penalties for theft crimes reflect the properties’ value stolen. If convicted of theft or shoplifting, the juvenile offender faces the potential for jail time and significant fines.
Juvenile Offense #6: Curfew and Other Status Offenses
Some actions may be against the law when perpetrated by a minor, e.g. alcohol consumption, local curfew or truancy. Many experts argue against curfew laws because they disproportionately target minority and low-income youth.
Juvenile Crime Statistics in Texas
Parents of Texas kids worry about common youthful consequences. Sometimes, parents don’t foresee their child’s potential to engage in criminal activity. Sadly, the consequences of committing a juvenile crime in Texas may be severe and potentially alter the child’s future.
An individual aged 10 to 17 years old may be charged with the commission of a juvenile crime in Texas. A juvenile crime carries a minimum Class C misdemeanor charge. The data show:
- Juvenile males are more likely than their female counterparts to commit juvenile crimes. They commit more than 75 percent of violent juvenile crimes.
- African-American males are at least five times as likely to face a juvenile criminal charge when compared to Caucasian youths and twice as likely to be charged as Hispanic youths.
- Juvenile males are arrested twice as often for underage alcohol possession and consumption than juvenile females.
- Property crimes, e.g. vandalism or graffiti, represent approximately one-fourth of juvenile crimes in Texas.
Risk factors involved in juvenile crime includes 1) childhood abuse, 2) parents with a criminal record, 3) associating with other delinquent peers, 4) aggressive behavior in childhood, and 5) poverty.
Crimes Juveniles Commit
According to Texas state arrest records, the most common juvenile crimes include curfew violations, mischief, truancy, loitering, false reports, traffic violations, littering, criminal trespass, school violations, vandalism, forgery, simple assault, harassment, stalking, false identification, disturbing the peace, false reports, traffic violations, marijuana possession/drug paraphernalia possession, unauthorized vehicle use, burglary/theft, reckless endangerment, criminal trespass, weapons possession, alcohol/tobacco/marijuana possession, possession of stolen property, runaway, or resisting an officer offenses.
If a youth is suspected of involvement in any of the above crimes, he or she is likely to be taken into police custody.
When Texas Juveniles Commit Violent Crimes
Some juveniles commit violent crimes, e.g. robbery, assault, or even murder.
On non-school days and in the summers, juvenile violent crime rates increase during the evening hours.
If a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe a youth has broken the law, he or she will be arrested and taken to a processing office. His or her parents are notified.
The minor faces a detention hearing within 48 hours of his or her initial arrest. At the hearing, a judge or magistrate determines whether to release or detain the juvenile until his or her next court appearance.
In many instances, the juvenile is detained if the following circumstances are present:
- Law enforcement considers that the juvenile is a danger to himself/herself or others.
- The juvenile has prior juvenile offenses and is considered likely to re-offend.
- Law enforcement determines the youth lacks suitable parental protection and/or care.
Thereafter, the juvenile faces a subsequent detention hearing for every 10 days he or she is detained. Certain conditions (which apply to the juvenile and his/her parents), similar to probation conditions for adults, must be met to release the youth.
The prosecutor may file charges against the youth in an adjudication hearing. A disposition hearing decides rehabilitation requirements and sentencing for the youth. In some cases, the judge may subject the youth to the adult penal system in Texas.
Juvenile Crime Increases during the Summer
Researchers report that some areas report up to 35 percent increases in major juvenile crimes in the summer. Psychologists, socialists, and law enforcement professionals say:
- Summer means youth have more time on their hands. Law enforcement professionals prepare for increased levels of juvenile crime during the summer vacation period.
- Summer means more travelers are enjoying vacationing away from home. Empty homes are attractive targets.
- Summer equals more criminal opportunity. Open windows invite youthful offenders to steal laptops, furnishings, bicycles, and other valuables left unattended.
- Summer means that more people consume alcohol. Unfortunately, consuming alcohol might not cool an offender’s temper. Alcohol consumption is considered an important risk factor in violent crimes.
The reality is that it’s challenging for many teens to get a summer job. Because law enforcement agents are looking for youthful offenders during the summer months, it’s important for teens to know their legal rights.
For instance, if a police officer asks a teen to search his or her backpack—or his or her person—the teen has the right to refuse (say NO) in Texas.
Juvenile Criminal Behavior in Texas
Criminal behavior by Texas juveniles remains an acute problem. It’s reflected by the arrest statistics throughout the state.
The data concerning juvenile crime is stark. Youthful offenders face charges of causing serious bodily injury to others, taking property that doesn’t belong to them, committing sexual assault or threatening assault, breaking and entering into others’ property, and more.
The numbers of juvenile arrests for weapons crimes, e.g. prohibited weapons (razors, daggers, etc.) or unlawful possession of firearms also continues to increase in Texas.
If your teen is facing a criminal charge, he or she needs an experienced Texas criminal defense lawyer. Get answers to your questions about his or her legal rights as soon as possible.
Legal Defense for Texas Juveniles
A juvenile case is handled differently from an adult criminal case in Texas. An experienced Texas juvenile crimes lawyer is an essential part of protecting the juvenile’s legal rights.
If you’re searching for an experienced Texas criminal lawyer with a track record of success, contact the Law Office of Brett A. Podolsky at 713-227-0087 for an initial case evaluation.