Each state has particular laws that deal with acts committed by youth and adults. Just because someone is under a certain age (16 in New York State) and considered a juvenile does not mean that laws do not apply to them. A criminal record can affect you later in life. If you have a record, some schools or employers may not accept you. What you might think is a harmless prank or "no big deal", could hurt your future.
A simple prank, such as removing hubcaps or spraying graffitti, can bring a serious charge of theft or vandalism against you. You may be arrested. Penalties can include a fine, restitution (pay for damages), probation or jail time.
Taking things that do not belong to you without the permission of the owner is theft. Theft is also referred to as the crime of "stealing".
When items stolen are taken from a store, it is often called "shoplifting". There is no difference between shoplifting and theft.
The possession or use of marijuana is against the law and penalties include fine, probation or jail. The penalties for offenses involving hard drugs, such as cocaine, speed, heroin and crack or large amounts of marijuana, can be very serious, especially when a federal law is broken. The selling of any illegal drugs is a very serious offense. This is also true of the illegal use, possession or sale of prescription drugs.
It is against the law to serve or permit liquor to be served to minors (under 21) anywhere, including in the home. It is against the law for minors to have alcohol in their possession in a public place or in a car at any time. Anyone over the age of 16 who helps a minor to obtain alcohol can be charged with a felony crime punishable by imprisonment and/or a fine.
Alcohol, Drugs and Driving
In New York State the penalty for a first offense conviction of driving while intoxicated may include jail time, a fine, loss of driving privileges and a requirement to participate in a drug or alcohol treatment program. In addition to the criminal penalties, it is likely that insurance rates of the convicted driver will be higher for a period of up to ten years. Depending on the situation, your parents may be responsible for any penalties, fines or damages.
Vehicular (Car) Injury or Manslaughter
If you are driving while intoxicated and injure or cause the death of another person (manslaughter), you may be charged with a felony crime. If convicted, you may be fined, put on probation and/or imprisoned.
Unlawful use of a weapon is a possible felony under New York State law. Using a dangerous weapon in committing a crime can lead to life in prison. The law's definition of a "weapon" includes guns (all types), switchblades, gravity knives, sticks, cane swords, and concealed blades (for example, a razor blade). An item such as a nail file can be viewed by police and the courts as a weapon, depending upon how it is used. A person who is stopped by the police and found to have a gun or other weapon can be arrested and charged with possession of a concealed weapon without the proper permit.
If you, or someone you're with, are stopped or picked up by the police, here are things you need to know.
The following organizations will provide information and/or assistance (click on the agency's name for more information):