Young Adults Need to Know Their Rights
When you are young, you may not be aware of your rights. Whenever someone is taken into police custody, the Miranda Rights an officer must tell the arrestee are the same, whether you are a teenager or an adult. However, there are differences between how juveniles and adults are treated. The police are required to be sensitive to your age when it comes to reading you your rights. However, if you are a teenager or in college, then you are old enough to understand your rights and the police should inform you of your Miranda Rights if you are taken into custody and prior to interrogating you.
Your Miranda Rights are:
- You have the right to remain silent.
- Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
- You have the right to an attorney.
- If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.
Young people are typically raised to obey adults and tell the truth. They may not know or think to ask whether they are in police custody or under arrest. However, these are smart questions to ask. Or, a young person may simply ask “Am I free to go?” If the police say no, then they will know that they are in their custody.
Whether you think to ask if you are free to leave, you have the right not to answer an officer’s questions. When the police ask for your name and identification, you must provide them. After that, you may politely decline to answer any questions. However, this will not keep you out of trouble. The police can still take you into custody if they believe you committed a crime.
If you are taken into custody by the police, you should politely say that you will remain silent until an attorney is present. If you are minor, the police should contact your parents soon. However, if you are 18 years or older, then you may be responsible for contacting a lawyer or contacting a family member who can do so.
No matter what happened at the time of the incident, whether you answered the police officers’ questions or not, you have the right to an attorney. Whether your charges will go through the juvenile or adult criminal justice process, you have the right to an attorney. Contact a lawyer at Randall & Stump, PLLC to learn more about your rights and your legal options.
Common Juvenile & College Crimes
As a teenager or college student, you can be charged with many of the same crimes as older adults. However, there are certain offenses you are more likely to be charged with when you are young, including:
- Provisional DWI & Underage Drinking : Despite being under 21 years old, you and your friends may obtain and drink alcohol. No matter how socially acceptable this is, it is always illegal. If you are not 21 years old yet and police find you purchased, possessed, or consumed alcohol, then you can be charged with a misdemeanor. Also, if you are underage and an officer finds you have any alcohol in your system while driving, you will be charged with a provisional DWI. If you are under 18 years old and are facing an underage drinking or provisional DWI charge, contact a juvenile justice attorney right away.
- Fraudulent Identification: Although underage people often use fake IDs, you can face serious consequences if you are caught. Depending on the severity of the situation, you may face class 1 or class 2 misdemeanor charges, resulting in suspension of your driver’s license and significant fines.
- Simple Possession of Marijuana and Marijuana Paraphernalia : Use of marijuana is common among North Carolina youth; however, you could face serious consequences if you are caught. When you’re convicted of a marijuana crime, you will have a permanent criminal record that can impact your ability to obtain jobs, attend college, and receive financial aid.
- Intoxicated and Disruptive: According to NCGS 14-4444, you may be charged with a class 3 misdemeanor if you are intoxicated in a public place and behaving in a disruptive manner. Disruptive behavior may include blocking or interfering with traffic, laying across or preventing access to sidewalks or building entrances, cursing or shouting loudly, or begging people for money.
- Vandalism & Injury to Property: If you are accused of marking, defacing, damaging, or destroying another party’s property, you may be charged with vandalism or an injury to property offense. The exact charge will depend on the type of property and your alleged actions. For instance, graffiti is a separate charge than keying someone’s car. In either case, vandalism charges for minors or young adults need to be handled by an experienced attorney.
- Trespassing: Whether it is part of a prank or failing to pay close attention to where you are, you may end up on someone else’s property. You and your friends may like to hang out in a park at night, even though it is closed. Or, you may help yourself to your neighbor’s pool. In either case, you could find yourself facing criminal trespassing charges. Many trespassing charges are misdemeanors, but that does not mean you should deal with the charges without a defense attorney. If you are 15 years old or younger and are charged with trespassing, call a juvenile defense attorney immediately.
- Theft & Shoplifting : Teenagers and young adults are often accused of shoplifting and other forms of stealing, which is known as larceny in North Carolina. If you are facing this situation, contact an attorney about shoplifting consequences for minors and adults right away. Larceny, including shoplifting, is charged as a felony. Whether you are a juvenile or adult, you face harsh consequences if found guilty.
Any time you are accused of committing a crime when you are young, whether it is specifically an underage crime or not, call a juvenile defense attorney to discuss your options. A lawyer may be able to fight to have the charges dropped or dismissed. Or, there may be a strong defense to present at trial or your adjudication hearing. Also, if you are likely to be found guilty of an offense, your lawyer will strive to minimize the consequences, such as looking to see if you are eligible for a diversion program or seeking alternative penalties to detainment.
North Carolina Juvenile Court System
Effective December 2019, 16 and 17-year-olds will be sent to juvenile court for misdemeanor and low-level felony offenses. All minors under the age of 18 will be treated as juveniles unless they face serious juvenile felony charges, such as a sex offense. As of right now, you will be charged as an adult if you are 16 years or older. You will only be sent to juvenile court if you are 15 years old or younger.
North Carolina’s juvenile court system works differently than adult courts. Minors are not held in jail, though they can be held during the proceedings in a juvenile detention facility. Instead of a trial, the juvenile court holds adjudication hearings where a judge determines if you are responsible for undisciplined or delinquent behavior. In the adult court, a judge or jury would determine if you were guilty or innocent.
If you are found delinquent or undisciplined in juvenile court, the next step is a disposition hearing where you learn your punishment. In the adult court system, this would be a sentencing hearing. A judge in a juvenile court system can sentence you to a number of different penalties. For undisciplined behalf, you may be required to go through protective supervision. This can include other requirements, such as attending school and counseling. For delinquent behalf, you may be placed on probation, which entails court-ordered supervision and other penalties. If you are found to have committed a more serious offense, you could be detained in a youth development center for a period of time.
Throughout the juvenile court process, you are entitled to an attorney. Contact a juvenile lawyer as soon as possible to learn more about your rights and options.
Penalties for Adult Convictions
If you are 16 years or older and charged with a crime, you will go through North Carolina’s adult courts. While the juvenile system focus on rehabilitation and not harsh punishments, the same cannot be said for the adult system. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor or felony offense, you face fines and incarceration, though an experienced attorney can fight for alternative punishments.
North Carolina’s penalties depend upon the class of the crime and your criminal record. The range of imprisonment you face includes:
- Class 3 Misdemeanor: One to 20 days.
- Class 2 Misdemeanor: One to 60 days.
- Class 1 Misdemeanor: One to 120 days.
- Class A1 Misdemeanor: One to 150 days.
- Class I Felony: Four to 10 months.
- Class H Felony: Five to 20 months.
- Class G Felony: 10 to 25 months.
- Class F Felony: 13 to 33 months.
- Class E Felony: 20 to 50 months.
- Class D Felony: 51 to 128 months.
- Class C Felony: 58 to 146 months.
- Class B2 Felony: 125 to 314 months.
- Class B1 Felony: 192 to 483 months.
- Class A Felony: Life without parole or the death penalty.
For felony offenses, these are the presumptive range. Mitigating or aggravating factors may impact the potential minimum or maximum term of imprisonment.