Children often view turning 18 as an exciting time because they are now old enough to vote, get married and they can enjoy the many freedoms that come with being an adult. And, teenagers who are 18 are considered adults under the law and are treated as such.
When a 17-year-old makes a poor choice and is caught, it is possible that the authorities will inform the parents of the transgressions without making an arrest. Once that child turns 18, it is much more likely that he or she will face criminal charges for activities such as trespassing, vandalism and possession when just a few months earlier they would have been handled as a juvenile charge. A criminal conviction can have long-term consequences.
For example, it is relatively common for teenagers to get involved with marijuana, alcohol or even prescription drugs. Underage teenagers caught in possession of these controlled substances may face time in juvenile detention, but they will likely face time in rehabilitation or community service as well. At 18 however, he or she could face serious criminal charges.
Drug possession charges in Orange County can result in months of incarceration. If the authorities believe the individual was planning on selling the drugs, he or she could face felony charges for possession with intent to sell. If the drugs were seized within 1,000 feet of a school, the penalty could increase to multiple years in state prison.
Juvenile cases are handled quite differently in California from adult cases. In general, the juvenile court system places emphasis on rehabilitation over punishment. Furthermore, teenagers who are under the age of 18 will have an opportunity to seal their records and protect their future. The mistakes that 18- and 19-year-olds make will live with them for years to come.
An experienced defense attorney may be able to fight for reduced charges or for moving the case to juvenile court. The court considered that at 18, it is possible that the person is not an adult emotionally or mentally. It is critical to hire an experienced defense attorney so that all options can be considered when the future of the teenager is on the line.
David A. Stein is skilled criminal defense attorney with a track record of obtaining very successful outcomes for his clients. If you have been accused of a crime or need help with any criminal matter, contact our law offices today at (949) 445-0040 for a consultation.