Parents often worry that their teens will commit crimes, especially because they, as adults, understand just how much these young people have to lose. They know what type of impact a criminal charge can have on their future. It clearly may impact their freedom, but it can also impact education opportunities, career opportunities and much more.

One thing parents may wonder about is the role that their teen’s peers play in this equation. When children are young, the parents are really the only ones who directly influence their lives. As they grow older, that shifts, and their friends take on a larger role. Will peer pressure lead to teen crime?

It certainly can. Researchers call it a “recurring phenomenon” and note that, while it can start at a very early age, it grows more intense as children get older. Adolescence is a confusing and often chaotic time for them, as they try to find their place in the world, and they may do things to conform to the group around them that they never would have done alone.

Sometimes, it’s minor. The teen shoplifts something to prove how “cool” they are to their friends. They decide to drink alcohol at a party because everyone else is doing it. They vandalize a local business on a dare. Other times, it’s more serious. Teens may get involved in major theft crimes like stealing a car, or they could get involved in violent crimes as they clash with other groups. Often, criminal activity starts small and then escalates.

If your teen has gotten arrested, you’re definitely worried about their future. You must know what legal defense options they have moving forward.