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Loudoun County Attorneys > Blog > Juvenile Offenses > Top Five Juvenile Crimes in Virginia

Top Five Juvenile Crimes in Virginia


Children under 18 could be arrested for the same offenses as adults. However, 50 percent of juvenile arrests are for one of the five offenses listed below. Individually, these offenses are complex. Additionally, Virginia lawmakers recently revised the state’s gang crime enhancement. Under the new Section 18.2-46.2, knowing and willful participation in any predicate criminal act committed for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with any criminal street gang is guilty of a Class 4 felony.

In most ways, the top five juvenile crimes in Virginia are prosecuted like adult crimes. However, the emphasis is different in juvenile court. Adult courts normally stress retribution and punishment. Juvenile courts normally stress rehabilitation and rebuilding. The different emphasis gives a Leesburg juvenile offense lawyer an excellent opportunity to successfully resolve these charges, almost regardless of the amount of evidence against the defendant.


Most juvenile theft arrests are shoplifting arrests. Others involve the theft of money or property from an individual. The elements of each offense are basically the same.

In court, prosecutors must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant took property from the owner with the intent to deprive the owner of the full use and enjoyment of that property.

The “owner” plays a critical role in these cases. Although an owner cannot drop criminal charges, the criminal case usually cannot move forward without the owner’s testimony. If the owner doesn’t cooperate for whatever reason, perhaps because insurance paid for the lost property, prosecutors often lose interest in the case.

Simple Assault

Somewhat similarly, the alleged victim’s testimony is a critical element of a simple assault case in Loudoun County.

The alleged victim must provide credible testimony as to the act and the defendant’s intent. Because of the long delay between arrest and trial, the alleged victim’s testimony is often unavailable at trial. Even if this person does testify, a Leesburg criminal defense lawyer can often undermine this testimony. Most alleged victims have never testified in court before. Furthermore, the alleged victim was most likely drinking at the time of the incident.

If the evidence is weak, the state often reduces simple assault charges to ABC (assault by contact), which is basically a traffic ticket.

Drug Possession

Virginia lawmakers have partially decriminalized marijuana, but it’s still illegal to possess in many situations. Most pain pills are also illegal to possess, unless the defendant has a valid prescription.

For several reasons, drug possession cases are difficult to prove in court. For example, criminal possession has three elements:

  • Proximity,
  • Knowledge, and
  • Control.

Proximity is relatively straightforward, even in vehicle possession cases. The other two are harder to prove. In fact, a defendant could literally be sitting on a drug stash and not legally possess it.

Disorderly Conduct/Curfew Violations

We’ll group these last two offenses together because, in many ways, they’re basically the same, especially in terms of the arrest context. Usually, if officers cannot charge a juvenile defendant with another offense, they press disorderly conduct or curfew violation charges.

As the name implies, disorderly conduct is a conduct-related offense. Common violations include fighting in public, using obscene and offensive language, or threatening the peace in some way.

In contrast, officers can press curfew violations simply by looking at the clock. For arrest purposes, it doesn’t matter if the defendant has a valid reason for being out past curfew or not. However such an excuse is a defense in court.

Connect With a Thorough Loudoun County Lawyer

There’s a big difference between an arrest and a conviction in criminal law. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Leesburg, contact Simms Showers, LLP, Attorneys at Law. We routinely handle matters throughout Northern Virginia.



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