Class A misdemeanors that could change your life (and your teen’s life)

Which Class A Misdemeanor Might Your Teen {accidentally} Commit?

Are we ready for summer vacation yet? The last thing a parent wants to worry about over the break from school is having their teen face Class A misdemeanor charges.

After all, the list of these potentially life-changing crimes is literally longer than your arm (even written with normal-sized font.)

Potential outdoor crimes lurk behind every train track and tree.

If your teen loves the outdoors and will have extra time on their hands this summer, committing a misdemeanor is actually shockingly easy. Did you know that in Missouri, defacing a cave wall is a Class A misdemeanor?

While this might seem like a far-fetched crime, how many teens wouldn’t think twice about carving their name and “leave their mark” on the world? Think back a few years – did you ever carve your initials in a tree? It’s the same idea.

If your teen is already out exploring said cave, just suppose they decide to pollute the cave waters. That, too, is a Class A misdemeanor.

Then there’s the railroad tracks. How many of us have trespassed on railroad property (also a Class A misdemeanor), albeit very carefully? Placing those pennies on the railroad tracks? Highly illegal!

Who hasn’t seen a movie where a young person explores an abandoned building? Trespassing of the first degree is normally a Class B misdemeanor in Missouri (only six lonely potential months in jail, folks). Trespassing in school buses are the exception, meriting a Class A category instead. Just warn your teens, okay?

What if they’re out looking for that special gemstone or rock? Warning! Don’t surface mine if you don’t want a possible misdemeanor threat on your head.

Summer fireworks – a true Class A Misdemeanor

What about fireworks? A teen entrepreneur should just stay away from the fireworks business. Selling fireworks without adult supervision under the age of 16 is illegal. Never sell fireworks to child under age 14. As you can see, fireworks are a risky business altogether.

Discharging fireworks around the wrong building is also a Class A misdemeanor. Boating and fireworks don’t mix, either. In a spirit of summer fun, can you imagine your teen throwing a firework off of a boat? That’s illegal — bad news if the Natural Resource Police are nearby!

Let’s travel down memory lane for a moment. What crazy stunts did you pull as a teen? Surely we can all pull something out of our memory bank.

Summer parties and driving – a strict NO alcohol rule

The temptation is so real! Teen drinking and driving scares the pants off of parents. You simply must have this conversation with your child, even if drinking is not their thing. Riding in a vehicle with an intoxicated friend driving – well, that’s a recipe for disaster!

Remind your child that even one drink before driving is TOO much.

Teach your teen that all it takes is a BAC of .020 under the age of 21 in Missouri to land a DWI charge. You definitely will need a good criminal defense lawyer to keep your child out of jail with such a charge.

Your teen’s Class A misdemeanor risk will escalate dramatically if they are stopped by an officer as a prior DWI offender. Besides potential jail time and fines, and license suspension, certain rehab programs will be required, such as the Substance Abuse Traffic Offender Program (SATOP). Check out this website for the latest on DWI charges.

Drugs – be aware and beware

This past winter, police spotted a Marshal Missouri teen sitting out in the freezing January weather. Sadly, he was in possession of more than 10g of marijuana. He was charged not only with possession but with alleged intent to sell – a Class E felony.

According to NOLO, first-time possession of less than 35g of marijuana but more than 10g is normally a Class A misdemeanor! (Unless you are inside a school zone – drug charges ramp way up there.)

Although not a Class A misdemeanor, getting caught driving with any trace of drugs in your system in Missouri for first-time offender is an automatic 30-day license suspension. Since teens may undergo surgeries (say a sports injury) and receive pain-killers, it pays to be aware of the risks of driving even after it seems the pain-killers have worn off.

Technology and teens – multiple risk factors

Distracted driving is a huge risk factor for bodily harm and death. No one under 21 is allowed to text and drive in the state of Missouri. While not a Class A misdemeanor, if a teen is caught texting and driving, he or she faces a fine of up to $200, 2 points on their license, and a loss of a Good Driver discount on car insurance. Consequences get much, much worse if one causes a distracted driving accident due to texting.

On the other hand, sexting is a serious crime involving potential child pornography charges. Because those laws are so complex, it’s hard to say what charges your teen would end up with – quite possibly a felony charge that would follow them for ages. Tell your teen sexting is not a joke unless they think a jumpsuit, prison food, and prison walls shared with the toughest of bullies is fun!

First, you and your teen should know that even a Class A misdemeanor has serious consequences. Possible fines and potential jail time of up to a year are no summer fun adventure!

If convicted of a Class A misdemeanor, your child will carry a criminal record that could literally haunt them for years. Certain Class A misdemeanors cannot be expunged. For example, renting an apartment in the future could be very difficult, depending on the criminal record.

Even more damaging, your teen is required to tell his employer if he has a Class A misdemeanor on his record. Since employers already struggle to find good, reliable help, a teen with a record is going to be on the bottom of their “hire list”.

Charged with a misdemeanor? Here are some ways an experienced, aggressive criminal defense lawyer will work to help you:

  • Know Missouri laws and legal procedures to fight for your best outcome.
  • Ensure your teen’s fair and respectful treatment.
  • Reduce or even eliminate fines.
  • Reduce jail time.
  • Work to get a criminal record expunged.