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Hanging with the Wrong Crowd Can Increase Your Chance of Going to Jail: A Look at the Science

We are constantly influenced by our friends, for better or worse. Countless studies have demonstrated that the people we associate with can affect and alter our behavior in various ways, from the foods we eat to whether we smoke or do drugs.

It’s been equally well-established that if your friends are involved in criminal activity, you’re significantly more likely to engage in criminal behavior as well. But why? Under what circumstances? Below we take a brief look at studies on the subject and what it means for people who run with a trouble-prone crowd.

Risk factors

According to several respected studies, criminal-minded friends will hold the most influence over your behavior under two circumstances: your age when the friendship began and the length of the relationship. The earlier you form a friendship with a person who commits crimes, and the longer that friendship lasts, the more likely the friend is to transmit delinquent values to you. Moreover, when those two factors are present, there is a higher likelihood that you’ll adapt your behavior to model those of your friends.

A more recent study indicates that the proximity of the friend is an additional crucial factor. In 2016, Dutch researchers interviewed 470 adult individuals from the Netherlands who had previously been involved in a longitudinal examination of their experiences with crime and their social networks. The researchers found that individuals who lived near friends who engaged in criminal activity, and were in regular contact with that friend, heightened the individual’s own risk of offending, even if the actual quality of the friendship was not high. This finding seems to suggest that you can be influenced by the criminal activity of people around you even if you don’t consider them close friends.

Why are we like this?

We model our friends’ behaviors for a variety of reasons: we want to draw our identity from a person or group, we find pleasure in being liked and accepted, or we might even receive some form of protection by acting as they do. Unfortunately, when it comes to associating with criminally-minded people, it also means that we are increasing our risk of committing crimes and going to jail.

The solution? Distance. Based on the science, it appears that your best shot at breaking free from bad influence friendships is to physically distance yourself from such associations. It may not be easy, but it could keep you out of trouble and enhance the quality of your life.

If you have been arrested, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Call the qualified criminal defense lawyers of Razumich & Associates to learn how to best defend yourself and protect your rights. We are ready to fight for you. Contact us today.

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