Understanding juvenile brains and criminal behavior

Factors such as genes, the environment and experiences of childhood all influence the kind of behavior a young person exhibits. In addition, scientists have been using the latest technologies to study the growth of the brain from birth to adulthood. Their research has found that in many important ways, the brain of a teen does not resemble that of an adult until he or she reaches the early twenties.

Unfortunately, relative to other ages, crime rates are highest among young males. Brain imaging studies indicate that responses to emotionally charged situations are heightened during the teen years and stress hormones affect the brain, and therefore teen behavior, in complex ways.

Brain changes and teen emotions

Brain imaging studies suggest that the circuitry affecting behavior is in a state of flux during the teen years. While people point out that teenagers do not control their impulses as well as adults, brain research indicates this is not strictly a matter of choice but that biologically they are simply more vulnerable to peer pressure and to making impetuous decisions.

The frontal lobes of the brain control impulses. Inexplicable behavior and poor judgment occur when teen emotions are running high, creating an overload for the circuitry, which is still maturing, in the front part of the brain.

Handling juvenile crime

Information about still-developing juvenile brains affects the way teens are treated in the justice system. When compared to adults, teenagers are more impulsive, emotionally volatile, aggressive and likely to take risks. Child advocates say that, in committing a crime, they should not be held to the same standards as adults.

To that end, the Supreme Court has outlawed the death penalty for felons younger than 18. Justice Anthony Kennedy held that because of their lack of maturity, young people make ''impetuous and ill-considered actions and decisions" and that they are more susceptible to outside influences, including peer pressure, "causing them to have less control over their environment."

Growing up

Experts on juvenile behavior contend that rehabilitation is more effective for juveniles who face criminal charges than it is for adults, in part because their mental capabilities are still evolving. Studies show that the violence teenagers exhibit toward others often diminishes as they grow into their twenties, and this is the time of life when the frontal lobes of the brain reach maturity. Better decisions and controlled impulses follow; the teenager has become an adult.

Until then, a teen in trouble needs support and guidance. Experienced criminal defense attorneys understand the complexities related to juvenile crime and are available for consultation and representation in such matters.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

For a free initial consultation, contact our Louisiana law firm online today or call 337-433-4405 to speak with one of the firm's talented attorneys.

The Sanchez Law Firm, LLC
1200 Ryan Street
Lake Charles, LA 70601

Phone: 337-433-4405
Map & Directions

Email Us For A Response

How Can We Help You?

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

  • Top Lawyers of Acadiana 2016 | Acadiana profile magazine
  • AVVO Rating superb Top Attorney Criminal Defense
  • The Best Lawyers In AmericaSelected for Inclusion in 2007, 2008,
    2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014,
    2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019
  • Rated By Super Lawyers Walter M. Sachez Visit.superlawyers.comSelected for Inclusion in 2007, 2008,
    2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014,
    2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019
  • Top Lawyers of Acadiana 2018 | Acadiana profile magazine
  • AV Martindale Hubbell Badge | 2019