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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 16357
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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my 15-year-old son, never have any bad record, was caught by

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my 15-year-old son, never have any bad record, was caught by police. He got a citation because he has a lighter in his pocket. I know it's not his because I, a single dad, almost check his pocket every other day for laundry. And I know he does not smoke ciggererrte because I, used to be a heavy smoker, can't smell anything from his clothes or body. My son told the police that the other teen, also caught the same time, gave him the lighter. The other teen admit it to police. Also, police found the other teen has a laster gun (I saw he use it in church aim at the night sky). But it ends up the other teen did not get any citation. My son got one because of possession of the lighter. I do not understand why the other teen gave my son the lighter, AND have a laser gun BUT NO citation at all. Is there a problem on the legal system? Is this fair to my son? I thought that if a store sold a lighter to under age person is illegal, is it legal if someone gave lighter to under age person? thanks
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 4 years ago.
Hello,

I'm sorry to hear about this, and yes, sometimes the criminal justice system can seem pretty twisted. And sometimes that means the person who gets arrested may be the wrong one. The good thing is that if your son doesn't want to go to trial on this matter, he's got a deal where he can take a smoker's awareness class and keep this charge from ever turning up on his record.

I'm sure that your son has had a great deal of exposure to cigarette smokers, even if he himself is not one. And I'm also sure he's had a great deal of education already in school about the long term dangers of smoking. So making him take anti-cigarette classes probably won't have the negative consequences you fear.

I don't know why the police arrested your son and not the other boy too, if the other boy was also carrying illegal contraband. Perhaps what the other boy had is not illegal, or the police officer didn't know what it was. Perhaps the other boy is a good liar, presented more respectfully, XXXXX XXXXX eye contact, or any one of a dozen subjective things that made the policeman feel that the guilty one of the two was your son rather. The only way you can find out what was going on in the police officer's head is if your son tries the case. Then he's entitled to know all of the evidence that the state has against him.

But just in general, police don't need to do any deep investigation before an arrest or a citation. Nor is it a defense for your son that the police should have arrested both but didn't. All police need to issue the citation is "probable cause" which is only a reasonable belief that someone may have been involved in a criminal activity. The finding of the lighter would give the officer probable cause. If the case were to go to trial, however, the charge would have to be proved against him beyond a reasonable doubt in order for him to be convicted. That's a much higher standard for the police to meet.

___________

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This thread will not close and you can always use it to get clarification.This is informational only and is NOT legal advice. There is no attorney-client relationship. You are advised to consult an attorney in your State for specific legal advice.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for the explanations. After today's class, my son told me that he really don't know what the questions about:what you feel to have or without a cigarette....anyway, I just hope his stupid action will not carry on his record after the court. thank you again!!
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 4 years ago.
Hello again,

In most states possession of paraphernalia -- things that can be used to smoke cigarettes or marijuana -- is a criminal offense, especially in the hands of a teenager who is not allowed to buy cigarettes. I don't agree with some of these laws, because some of these things are also standard household items, but this is the law.

When your son takes care of this case, he will learn what it is safe to have in his pockets or in his possession -- even for a friend -- and nobody will be able to take advantage of him like that again. Meanwhile, this case will scare him a little into being more careful, and I am sure he's going to be able to avoid any kind of a criminal record for this matter.

Just to make sure of that and to make sure he understands all of his rights, you should retain a lawyer or, if you can't afford one, ask the judge for public defender on his court date.

Good luck to both of you.
___________

If I've helped, please click the green Accept button so I can get credit for my work.

This thread will not close and you can always use it to get clarification.This is informational only and is NOT legal advice. There is no attorney-client relationship. You are advised to consult an attorney in your State for specific legal advice.



Edited by FranL on 6/2/2010 at 12:07 PM EST

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