By the time they're old enough to vote, roughly one in four Americans has had at least one criminal arrest.
By age 23, an estimated 33 percent -- and perhaps as many as 41 percent of young adults -- have been arrested at least once, excluding traffic violations.
The authors of a new study say their analysis is the first contemporary look at national arrest prevalence in this age group since landmark research in the 1960s.
"The percentages are not really all that different up to age 18," said lead researcher Robert Brame. "The biggest differences are from 18 to the early 20s, and most occur in the 19-to-22 age range."
The new study appears online Dec. 12 and in the January 2012 print issue of Pediatrics. The researchers used National Longitudinal Survey of Youth data from 1997 to 2008 for 7,335 young people aged 8 to 23.
Surveyors asked about arrests but not specific crimes. However, in 2009 arrest figures from the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, arson topped the list, followed by vandalism, disorderly conduct, robbery, burglary and car theft.