As the weather gets nicer, our beloved teens will be spending increasingly more time outdoors and socializing with one another. While these social interactions are great for them, there are many “fun” activities that seem harmless but could land them in serious trouble. Here are eight of the most common charges teens receive during the Spring and Summer months:
- Alcohol. We never want our teens drinking and driving, but it is important to know that all it takes is a BAC of .020 for them to receive a DWI charge if they are under 21 years old. It is always better for them to Uber if they have gotten their hands on any wine, beer, or spirits.
- Marijuana. Regardless of whether Missouri or Kansas decriminalizes marijuana, it is still against Federal law to possess. The problems get bigger for teens in possession if they have more that 10g, if they are in a school zone, or on federal property. Since there are many possibilities for how it can become very serious very quickly, it is always better for them to not have marijuana in their possession at all.
- Drugs while driving. Although it may not register as a Class A misdemeanor depending on the drug, a teen caught driving with any prescription drug or under the influence of regulated substances is going to most likely have their license suspended for at least 30-days if a first-time offender. The charges could ramp up from there, so be careful to make special arrangements for them if your teen is receiving pain-killers for injuries or to help their recovery from surgery.
- Texting. Considering that teens are usually new to driving already, them being distracted while driving can be extremely dangerous. In the state of Missouri, no one under the age of 21 is allowed to text and drive. If caught, they may face a significant fine, an automatic 2 point deduction on their license, significantly increased car insurance, and any repercussions from resulting accidents or laws broken (think about improper lane change, failure to yield, and speeding as examples).
- Fireworks. Discharging fireworks on a boat, on federal property, or in a reckless way that endangers property or other persons can result in a Class A misdemeanor.
- Defacing property. When you were a teen did you ever walk through a park with your boyfriend or girlfriend and decide to carve your names in a tree? How about in a cave or on the side of a building? As harmless as this may seem, these are all illegal and can result in your teen having a criminal record. How about if you get mad at a significant other for cheating and scratch their car up with your keys? Well if the repairs cost more than $750 then your defacing their vehicle just became a felony, and you could face up to 4 years in prison!
- Railroads. Have you ever walked along the railroad tracks? How about putting pennies or other items on those tracks? Your teens can get in trouble for trespassing on railroad property, which is a Class A misdemeanor, or putting items on tracks which can be a very serious offense.
- Urination. Public urination and public indecency can potentially be a very serious offense if escalated based on the circumstances in which it was done. Charges may result in having to register on the Missouri sex offender registry and can create lots of additional problems if considered indecent exposure. The lesson here is to not chance it.
If convicted, many of these can result in a Class A misdemeanor which can saddle your teen with a criminal record that can haunt them for years. To make matters worse, some Class A misdemeanors cannot be expunged, resulting in the teen potentially having a harder time renting an apartment or securing employment since they would be required to tell their employer if they have a Class A misdemeanor on their record.
If you know of a teen in legal trouble, reach out to the Baldwin & Vernon team to discuss their options. A great attorney with experience with such cases can reduce or eliminate costly fines, work to get the charges expunged from their record, reduce jail time if unavoidable, and fight for your best outcome based on Missouri laws and proper legal procedures. You can reach us at https://baldwinvernon.com/ or by giving us a call at (816) 842-1102.