To some degree, everyone breaks the law. Often, it’s simply because they don’t think it’s a big deal. Someone who is driving 70 miles per hour in a 55-MPH zone knows that they’re supposed to slow down, but they’re in a hurry and they decide that it’s worth it.
But what about more high-profile crimes, like breaking and entering or theft? What are some of the reasons people commit crimes, even knowing that what they’re doing is illegal? Researchers say there are three main categories of reasons:
- Biological factors
- Psychological factors
- Social factors
Biological factors include an underdeveloped prefrontal cortex. Since it doesn’t stop developing until the mid-20s, this may help to explain why young people often commit crimes. Older individuals may have a damaged prefrontal cortex.
Psychological factors could revolve around learned behaviors. For instance, children learn extensively from their parents and watch their every move. If the parents engage in illegal activity or make it clear that doing so is acceptable, children can then learn that behavior and grow up to engage in it themselves.
Social factors include being apparently trapped in a cycle of poor housing, few educational opportunities and financial disadvantages. This may drive crimes like theft, for instance, or drug sales. It is really a product of people trying to find financial options that are denied to them in their current social group.
These are far from the only reasons, but they can influence why crime happens. It’s important for those who end up facing charges to know what legal defense options they have. With the right options, they can work toward a more positive future.