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Criminal Conduct and Children

By: Angela Armes - Updated: 16 Feb 2015 | comments*Discuss
Criminal Conduct Criminal Offence

Criminal conduct is any behaviour that can lead to the committing of a criminal offence. In the case of children and minors, this behaviour may be more likely to take on aspects of anti-social behaviour or property damage.

As children most of us were brought up to believe in justice, the law and also the difference between right and wrong. However in today's society the lines seem to have blurred and as a result there has been a considerable upturn in the sort of behaviour that constitutes criminal conduct. This behaviour includes:

  • Bullying
  • Vandalism
  • Joy Riding
  • Racial Abuse
  • Sexual Impropriety
  • Theft
  • Causing an Affray
  • Underage Drinking
  • Graffiti
  • Mugging
  • Burglary

This list is not an exhaustive one, as there are many other crimes and actions against people or property that can be considered to be criminal. However, we are interested in the criminal conduct of children and minors and therefore the aforementioned list covers quite a range of offences that children or minors are likely to find themselves capable of committing.

Is My Child a Criminal?If you child has been involved in any of the aforementioned acts of anti-social behaviour, they may well be considered by the police to have committed a criminal act and as such be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. However, if a child is under 10 years old, they are considered to be too young to be prosecuted.

For this reason Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABCs), Parenting Contracts, Parenting Orders and Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) were introduced.

What Happens if My Child Commits a Crime?

If a child over 11 years old has committed a crime and has been detained by police, it is likely that they will be prosecuted by the police in the same manner as an adult. This is because the law considers anyone over the age of 11 to know the difference between right and wrong and therefore know that if they are committing a crime they are breaking the law.

If your child has been caught committing a criminal offence, or has been detained as a result of a suspicion that they were about to commit a crime, you will be called to your local police station where the nature of the offences will be discussed with you.

Criminal Offences and Behaviour Orders

In some instances, depending on the nature of the offence, the police working in conjunction with the Youth Offending Team and the local authority may decide that prosecuting the offence through the courts is not a worthwhile option. However, if the police have had call to detain your child previously, and a behaviour order is already in place, they may strongly consider going for a criminal conviction which will involve a hearing before a magistrate, a criminal record and potential a custodial sentence.

However, if it is a first time offence and there are sufficient grounds to believe no further offences will be committed, the child in question may be asked to voluntarily enter into an Acceptable Behaviour Contract (ABC). This informal agreement – which is also signed by the parent – is a commitment to cease any anti-social behaviour and bide by the conditions of the agreement. Likewise, a parent may also be asked to enter into such an agreement, especially if there is doubt as to how the parents govern their children's activity.

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@mella. At the age of 16 your daughter can do as she likes. You have not said whether you are still with her father if not, can she not simply live with you? If you are still living together, then surely it would have to be a joint decision with him if you were to make her leave - and you could simply refuse?
LawAndParents - 18-Feb-15 @ 9:52 AM
i have a 16 year old who has entered into a gay relationship her father is totally against it and is threattening to have her sent away by the welfare if she does not stop the relationship,i do not accept it either but she is happy and the girl that she is with is decent ,i have spoken to a few people and they say we should let it play out that it is probablly a phase,i do not know what to do as we are divorced but live together can he go as far as sending her away because of how she feels and stop the relationship as her friend is no threat whatsoever,what are her rights concerning this matter...please advise me i cannot take the fighting and hurt anymore i am unemployed and he looks after me too .
mella - 16-Feb-15 @ 3:47 PM
In light of the riots across the UK is there nowhere in British law to hold parents responsible for the acts of their children - esp. if they are below the age of legal responsibility? I find that rather astounding.
dh - 10-Aug-11 @ 9:01 AM
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