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6 Factors That May Lead to Criminal Behavior

Understanding Criminogenic Needs in Offenders’ Lives

Criminogenic needs are factors that are directly related to recidivism, or the tendency of an individual to re-offend. Law enforcement agencies closely examine six factors, supported by research, that are directly related to crime in order to mitigate those factors and lower the chances of recidivism on behalf of certain offenders. Those six factors are as follows:

Peer influence: If a person associates themselves with people who engage in criminal activity, such as illegal drug use, that person may be influenced to engage in criminal activity as well. Peer influence is a significant factor that contributes to an individual’s social values, therefore, if a person chooses to spend time with the “wrong crowd,” they may end up on the wrong side of the criminal justice system.

Criminal thinking: Also known as “anti-social values,” criminal thinking involves a person doing the following:

  • believing that their criminal behavior is excusable, also known as “criminal rationalization”
  • blaming others for their wrongdoings
  • demonstrating a lack of remorse for a criminal behavior

Atypical behavior: Qualities of atypical behavior often develop in teenagers and may include skipping school, running away from home, participating in fights with school peers, possessing drugs or weapons, lying, stealing, and damaging animals or property.

Dysfunctional family: A lack of family support can significantly contribute to a person’s criminal behavior. Families deemed “dysfunctional” often fail to provide the emotional, financial, mental, and physical support that an individual needs, and typically lack the ability to problem solve and communicate effectively. In many cases, these family members are engaged in criminal activities.

Low self-control: A person who cannot control their temperament and impulses may engage in spontaneous activity without thinking before they act. Such activity may include assault, battery, domestic violence, theft, and more.

Substance abuse: Abusing drugs and alcohol may impair a person’s mental, physical, and emotional health to the point that they are unable to live a successful and productive lifestyle. If substance abuse continues over a long period of time, a person’s tolerance to those substances may increase and cause them to require a higher dose or more dangerous substance to get them high.

With this information in mind, defendants may have a better understanding of what elements could have influenced the commission of their alleged crime. Police officers, prosecutors, and judges often consider a defendant’s criminogenic needs as an alternative to incarceration while determining their legal punishment.

A criminal defense lawyer may shed light on and possibly emphasize in court a client’s criminogenic needs as a possible cause of their first-time or repeated offense, depending on the circumstances of the specific case and the client’s history. Sometimes, these factors may persuade a judge, jury, or prosecutor to consider a lighter penalty under certain circumstances. Thus, to learn how our Milwaukee criminal defense lawyer can defend your case and work to reduce or dismiss your punishment, contact us online or at (414) 882-8382!