The rise and fall of criminal activity with age

If you study the trends with criminal activity and arrests in the United States, you quickly find something very interesting: There is a clear link between this activity and age.

Generally speaking, preadolescence and early adolescence tend to coincide with rising crime rates and higher odds of criminal activity. In late adolescence, these rates hit their peak and this activity becomes most common. By young adulthood, the rates are already falling, and they simply continue to do so.

Moreover, this trend seems to overrule all other trends. For instance, people often want to point to issues like socioeconomic background or education levels. This isn't to say that these factors -- and many others -- do not play a role, but it appears that almost everyone in the United States at least experiments with crime during this age-based rise and fall.

As one expert put it: "Some lawbreaking experience at some time during adolescence is nearly universal in American children."

Obviously, many of these children simply commit minor crimes, get caught and stop this behavior. Others continue on into more serious crimes or at least continue the behavior for far longer. That's when a lot of other reasons need to be examined, but they may help to show why some people stick with crime when others don't, rather than showing that some people are more likely to commit crimes in the first place. All people break the law, researchers say, at some point.

With this in mind, you can see how important it is for everyone to know their legal rights when facing criminal accusations.

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