Developmental delays or developmental disabilities can be caused by a range of conditions. The courts are a blunt instrument when it comes to dealing with people with these disorders. People with developmental delays may lose out in the criminal justice system.
Developmental delays are first diagnosed in childhood. A child may struggle to speak or understand what’s going on.
According to Healthline, developmental delays can be caused by conditions including intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome, autism spectrum disorders, and muscular dystrophy.
Developmental delays can affect vision, language and speech, movement, social and emotional skills, and cognitive skills.
When a delay causes all of these disorders, the condition is called a global development delay.
Developmental delays can last into adulthood and mean people who suffer from them lose out in the justice system. Juries can be less sympathetic to people with developmental delays unless their conditions are properly highlighted by a criminal defense lawyer who is familiar with the challenges a defendant faces.
According to a Bureau of Justice Statistics report, 30 percent of all prisoners report having a cognitive disability. About 3 in 10 state and federal prisoners and 4 out of 10 local jail inmates report suffering from at least one disability.
The figure is considerably higher than among the general public where under 5 percent of people report a developmental difficulty.
The figure was reached by researchers asking inmates if a mental, physical, or emotional difficulty caused problems with concentration, remembering, or decision-making.
Research by the mental health non-profit The Arc found people who suffer from developmental or intellectual disabilities are more likely to be involved with the criminal justice system both as victims and perpetrators. They are 4 to 10 times more likely to become victims of crime when compared to those without disabilities.
The report noted many people who suffer from developmental delays suffered childhood trauma. Research from the mid-80s to the 1990s indicated the types of offenses committed range from property crimes like theft and shoplifting to sexual assault and homicides. Studies show people who suffer sexual abuse as children have a higher chance of becoming abusers.
The Arc suggested people with developmental difficulties are more likely to be enlisted by criminals to take part in crimes. They often do not realize the gravity of what they are doing. People with developmental delays are more likely to admit to crimes they did not commit or be manipulated by law enforcement officers.
At the Garcia Law Firm PLC, we have represented people with developmental delays and other mental health issues for decades. Please call our experienced criminal defense lawyer today at (602) 340-1999.