When you step out of high school, will you step into a job, more education, marriage or a combination of the three? Whatever your destination, you will probably be eighteen years old when you begin. Eighteen may be more challenging than you think because at this age you are a "legal" adult, but not fully independent. Although you can now vote, marry without your parents' consent, make contracts and be treated like an adult in court, you may not drink alcoholic beverages. What's more, your parents will continue to have a guiding, supportive place in your life.
With your newly acquired rights, you have certain duties and may oblige yourself legally to others more than you realize. The Young Lawyers Division of the Cumberland County Bar Association originated this booklet to answer some legal questions and to raise many more. Knowing the answers is now less important than learning how to ask the questions. How do you borrow money? How can you avoid getting "burned" with an apartment lease? Where do you go to vote?
The articles in Adulting!?! are arranged with a view toward four kinds of relationships:(!) contractual (Promises, Promises); (2) personal (Close to Home); (3) adversarial (Getting Stuck and Unstuck); and (4) the individual in a nation (Making It Work}. Be sure to look at the assistance agencies in the "Local Information" section for help in answering questions Adulting!?! doesn't answer. If you ever have a serious legal question, don't hesitate to visit an attorney or contact the Cumberland County Bar Association to find a local attorney in the area to speak to.
Have you ever thought about buying a car or calling an Uber? The person who sells these items or provides services will be much more likely to do business with you when you are 18 years old than when you were younger for two reasons. First, you will probably have a job or some other means to pay the merchant. Second, Pennsylvania courts will hold you responsible for your promise to pay for these services.
Everything we do in society is governed by laws. You are expected to follow those laws and not break them. To better understand the criminal system, it is a good idea to understand the basic premises of these laws. There are four main categories of crimes: Felonies, Misdemeanors, Summary Offenses, and Traffic Offenses.
Traffic Offenses are the least serious of the four. Anything from a speeding ticket to a parking ticket can fall under this category. In most cases, they carry with them about $160 in court costs plus a fine, but some traffic violations can add "points" to your license. Subsequent points can result in automatic suspension of a person's license. Any points that are added to your license will increase your insurance premiums as well.
Summary Offenses: These are very low-level crimes (such as disorderly conduct and public drunkenness) which carry with them a fine and a possibility of up to 90 days in prison. Most of these offenses can be expunged (wiped off a person's record) if they stay out of trouble for 5 years after conviction of the crime and the person who was found guilty petitions a court to remove the offense from their record.
Misdemeanors: These are middle level crimes (such as simple assault, possession of marijuana or other drugs, most theft offenses, and Driving Under the Influence) which can carry up to 5-years of jail time depending on how serious the offense is and how many crimes a person has committed in their past. The fines alone for these offenses can be thousands of dollars. Additionally, most domestic violence offenses can impair a person's ability to buy or sell guns or to get a concealed carry permit.
Felonies: The most serious of crimes (such as rape, homicide, arson, and robbery). These offenses can carry up to 5 year of prison time, immediate disqualification from owning a firearm, and can affect voting rights in certain areas of the country. In Pennsylvania, a person cannot vote while incarcerated on a felony offense. Most employers also refuse to hire a convicted felon, and schools may refuse admittance to a felon. Furthermore, a convicted felon will have extreme difficulty finding housing, both public and private.
Did you know that our members of Congress, Governors and Mayors get their authority from you, the voter? When you vote, you select a leader and authorize that person to use the power of his political office for you. The federal and state Constitutions guarantee your right to vote when you become 18 years of age. In addition to being 18 years of age and a U.S. citizen, you must be a Pennsylvania resident for thirty days prior to the election in order to vote here.
There are several different ways that you can register to vote. The simplest way would be to register online, through the Pennsylvania Department of State. You can also register in person at your county's Voter Registration office, any post office, or other public buildings, or register when you apply for or renew your driver's license. If you apply for a voter registration in person, you will need to bring documents to prove your name, age and address. You will also have the option to register as a member of a political party, which will allow you to help choose which party members will run in the general election.
Once your voter registration has been approved by the County Board of Elections, you will be mailed your voter identification card. This card will inform you where you will be able to vote, and is determined based on your address. The place where you vote is called a polling place, or more commonly the polls.
Copyright © 2023 Cumberland County Bar Foundation - All Rights Reserved.
Powered by Storytelling Marketing Communications