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Can people get too old for crime?

On Behalf of | Nov 16, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Naturally, people can commit criminal acts at any age. A 12-year-old could shoplift from a nearby store, a 50-year-old could embezzle money from their company and a 70-year-old may try to commit some type of financial fraud. You can always find examples of people breaking the law at any age.

That being said, criminologists have studied the trends to see if age has any correlation with expected criminal activity. What they found out is that the odds that someone will break the law start to go upward as they grow older. When they reach 17 years old, this is right around the peak, where they are most likely to violate the law. After this, crime continues to become less common as people grow older. Someone in their 40s is less likely to break the law than someone in their 20s, all things being equal.

Why does this happen?

There are many potential reasons why this happens. Often, people just have life experiences that make them less likely to break the law. They get a better education, they start a career, they get married and the like. When someone is 17 years old, they may not feel like it really matters if they break the law. But when someone is 30 years old and has a family and a mortgage, they realize they have a lot to lose if they have to go to jail.

It’s also worth noting that brain development in the prefrontal cortex isn’t complete until around 25 years old. This means that people who are younger than 25 may be more likely to make impulsive decisions or not think through the total ramifications of their actions. 

Of course, those who get arrested at any age need to know exactly what legal defense options they have as they focus on their future.