The following excerpt is from Editor Elizabeth Kelley's new book, Representing People With Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Practical Guide for Criminal Defense Lawyers. The book is a compilation of expert opinions examining the experience of people with ASD in the criminal justice system.

Criminal charges can result from the specific impairments in autism, which are:
1. Difficulty interpreting social cues and understanding what others are thinking and feeling. Difficulty anticipating and understanding the actions of others and the emotional impact of their actions on others.
2. Poor emotional regulation, with impulsivity, difficulty controlling strong emotions or urges and possible "meltdowns."
3. Difficulty with moral reasoning. Moral reasoning requires a degree of abstract thinking, and individuals with ASD tend to be concrete in their reasoning.
4. Intense restricted interests (i.e., fixations).
5. Repetitive behaviors, compulsivity.

Difficulty interpreting social cues and the actions of others can lead a person with autism to overreact or react inappropriately. In social and sexual relationships, for example, this can result in unwanted sexual aggression, or perhaps in stalking. Difficulty managing emotions may result in an emotional outburst that frightens or even injures others. Fixations, which often have the strength of an obsession, can result in trespassing or stealing. The need to repeat actions and the compulsion to collect may put ASD individuals at risk to repeatedly visit illegal websites or collect pornographic images of children (Attwood, Henault, & Dubin, 2014). However, deliberate violence in individuals with autism is not common. A number of studies have concluded that, when an individual with ASD acts purposely to harm another, there is likely to be comorbid psychiatric illness (e.g., depression or bipolar disorder) or substance abuse. ( See Chap. 4, Co-occurring Disorders).