For anyone who has suffered childhood trauma, the results of recent studies are unsurprising: Having one or more adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can lead to many ill effects in adolescence and adulthood. In general, ACEs are defined as potentially traumatic events that occur up to age 17 and may include violence, abuse, or neglect; having parents go through a contentious divorce; or witnessing violence or substance abuse in the home or community. Being exposed to this type of behavior before reaching maturity can have a tremendous impact on someone's physical and mental health – and it can even make it more likely that someone will go on to commit crimes themselves.
How Childhood Trauma Connects to Criminal Behavior
Particularly for juvenile and first-time offenders, there is often a link between childhood trauma and criminality. This is so common because research shows trauma causes permanent changes to the brain, which can lead to emotional and cognitive impairment, learning disabilities, social difficulties, and insomnia. When someone experiences trauma or abuse as a child, it literally rewires their brain. This disrupts their perception of what most people would consider “normal” or acceptable behavior and makes it more difficult for them to tell the difference between situations that are safe or risky. Trauma may also increase the likelihood that someone will make poor decisions or behave in an antisocial manner.
While trauma does not excuse bad or harmful behavior, in some cases, it may be useful in crafting someone's criminal defense. For example, if juvenile offenders grew up surrounded by violence and drugs, they may lack the necessary context to categorize certain actions as detrimental to themselves and those around them. If you or your child or family member has been accused of a crime and has a background, including childhood trauma, or ACEs, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you fight for your rights. Evidence of childhood trauma may form the basis for certain defense strategies or allow for mitigation at sentencing, particularly in cases involving juvenile or first-time offenders.
How an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
When you've been accused of a crime, your entire future hangs in the balance – including your reputation and your freedom. Particularly if you or your family member is a juvenile or first-time offender, you should do everything you can to ensure a criminal record doesn't follow you for the rest of your life. Building a defense based on childhood trauma requires careful gathering and interpretation of evidence, which is why you need a skilled criminal defense attorney on your side.
Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and his Criminal Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm have helped countless individuals in New Jersey avoid the most serious consequences and achieve the best possible outcome in their cases. Call 888.535.3686 or today or contact us online to start preparing your defense.