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Genetics and the likelihood of delinquency

Texas residents may be surprised to hear that a new study indicates that certain genetic factors combined with someone's environment may contribute to an increase or decrease in delinquency. The study, which was published in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, looked at three genes and their variants: MAOA, BDNF and 5-HTTLPR.

What researchers discovered was that individuals with less common gene variants may become more sensitive to their environment. For individuals raised in homes with family conflicts and sexual abuse, outcomes were likely to be poorer. However, those with solid relationships with their parents benefited from outcomes that were better than average.

While many other studies have shown that there appears to be a link between someone's genes and the chances that they will engage in antisocial behavior, this is the first to indicate that the same genes may also lead to a lower risk of delinquency. The study involved 1,337 students from the Swedish county of Västmanland who were between 17 and 18 years of age. Participants both supplied a saliva sample for DNA and filled out a survey that asked them questions about their family life and levels of delinquency.

Whether people are charged with a felony or misdemeanor, the circumstances surrounding the charges may have an impact on the types of penalties someone faces. Additionally, how evidence was gathered and the way an individual was treated when they were taken into custody may play an important part in the outcome of a case. A criminal defense attorney may be able to look at the details of someone's case and assist them in building a defense or working to reduce their charges.

Source: News Week, "New Study Reveals Antisocial Behaviour is Linked to Genetics", Amelia Smith, December 15, 2014

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