The online newspaper of Oak Hills High School

Criminal labels for an 18 year old

Felonies, Misdemeanors, and Infractions

As kids we may have gotten into a little trouble here and there. Sometimes with our parents, at school with teachers which led to the parents, and maybe even by the police. You may have stolen a video game, or earphones or anything from the store. Then you could have possibly received a ride home with the police and let off with a warning. Then after a talk from your parents since it is your first offense. But if you were to be 18 years old the outcome would have been a little different.  

According to the When you turn 18: survival guide for teenagers, Once you are 18 years old anything illegal will have serious consequences, and you will not be treated like a kid. You are eligible to be charged as an adult and available to the most serious consequences depending on the crime.  

Crimes are divided into three different categories, Felonies (most serious crime), Misdemeanor (less serious crime), and an infraction crime which will usually result in just paying a fine and appearing in court.

Being charged with a felony is a serious offense. Felony charges include murder, manslaughter, assault, armed robbery and even animal cruelty. Being charged with a felony can result in paying a fine which may include serving more than a year in county jail or prison. In some cases you can get sentenced to life or given the death penalty (unlikely in California).

Misdemeanors however are less serious. Misdemeanors crimes include possession of cannabis, simple assault, petty theft reckless driving or shooting a firearm in city limits. Being charged with a misdemeanor may lead to paying a fine and possibly serving a one year jail sentence, maybe both.

If ever charged with an infraction you do not have much to worry about. An infraction crime is more like jaywalking, fishing without a permit, boating violations or building permit violations. Infractions are usually dealt with by paying a fine and usually involve no jail time.

Most people know that police would usually need a warrant to search your home or vehicle. However police may search you and your car or house  wherever you are arrested, only in certain situations. Police may search your car for weapons or illegal or stolen goods if they have reason to think any is in there.

If you are arrested at home police may only search the exact area you are arrested in, other areas of the home or even the room are off limits unless they think more suspects are hiding. During the search, police may seize any evidence for a crime only if it is in plain sight. You are also not entitled to talk to the police when arrested once you have identified yourself and who you are. Although be careful once they read you your rights the police can use anything you say against you.

Once you turn 18 you are fair game to law enforcement for any crime you commit. If you are doing something that involves vandalism or damaging something that is not yours  then it is  illegal.

Always take precaution when doing something with your friends or even by yourself. Think of how serious it is and the price to pay.

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