It feels like just yesterday. I graduated from high school, my parents moved me into my new dorm room, and college was about to start. I was 18 and ready to take on the world. What I didn’t know was that being 18 was more than a new found sense of freedom, it also meant I had to live with the consequences.
At the age of 18, in the eyes of the law, youths become adults. In the criminal justice system, that means that when individuals come into runs with the law, they are no longer going to be dealt with by a juvenile court judge, but rather by the adult courts.
Why is this important? For one thing, the focus of juvenile courts is rehabilitation. That means that if someone gets in trouble, the judge dealing with the case will focus on what is in the best interest of that individual. When it comes to adult court, the focus is either on the amount of time that individual must stay in jail or how much fine are they required to pay.
Also, while juvenile “adjudications” are somewhat protected from public record, adult “convictions” stay on your record – forever. That means that conviction for public intoxication, possession of marijuana, petit theft, or assault will permanent stain an individuals’ record the moment he/she turns 18 years old.
For those of you who are almost 18 or just turned 18, be aware that you will simply not be able to get away with a lot of things you did before. Actions you take can have long lasting affects that can close many doors. Be careful and feel free to call me with any questions.
James S. Abrenio