Law Review: Kids and the law – a guide |

Law Review: Kids and the law – a guide

— Although it is the store owner and not the minor who will get in trouble if tobacco products are sold to a minor, a young person who possesses false identification in order to make such purchases is violating the law and may be prosecuted for that conduct. Possession of a false ID is a misdemeanor.

— Some kids, as well as parents, believe that membership in a street gang is against the law. The truth is that participation in a gang that does not engage in criminal activity is not against the law.

— If a minor gets in an accident after having been furnished alcohol by an adult, the adult faces a jail sentence of six months to one year, as well as a fine of up to $1,000.

These and a thousand other laws about children are contained in the new publication Kids and the Law – An A-to-Z Guide for Parents, funded by the Foundation of the State Bar of California. The guide, which can be accessed at the Bar’s Web site:, is a thorough review of California youth laws that kids, parents, school administrators and other professionals who work with young people in California should have.

Call our office at (530) 587-2002 if you want a copy.

Here is a sampling of some of the topics from Kids and the Law:

–The Age of Majority. Eighteen-year-olds have the right to vote, enter into binding contracts, buy and sell real estate and a dozen other activities, but children are treated as an adult at age 16 for driving, and for purposes of purchasing alcoholic beverages adulthood is not obtained until the age of 21.

— Alcohol and Kids and Kids and Cars. Are parents liable if they host a party for a group of their kid’s friends and one of the young guests gets drunk, resulting in an accidental death? What’s the penalty for possession of alcohol or driving without a license? What are the rules for provisional driver’s licenses – learner’s permits is what we used to call them. (Mr. Green was our instructor at school – until he had a nervous breakdown, which came after he developed ulcers.)

— Emancipation. That’s when parents are no longer responsible for their children and children no longer must answer to their parents. Sounds like the best of both worlds. Learn about it in the A-to-Z Guide for Parents.

— Fights and fighting. Some kids believe that fights between brothers and sisters or other family members are not against the law, and that these types of assaults are expected and acceptable. The truth is that no one (except a parent using reasonable force to discipline a child) has permission to strike another person.

— Graffiti, Guns and Other Dangerous Weapons, Juvie Court, Loitering, Parent’s Rights and Responsibilities, Police Encounters, Privacy for Kids moving (alphabetically) right along to Receiving Stolen Property and School Rules to Smoking and Kids.

— There is a whole section on work permits and child labor laws as well as special laws on vandalism, and an explanation of Zero Tolerance, a policy I am not so fond of.

— And just to remind you that this publication was prepared by lawyers, it comes with a glossary of legal terms. Do you know what “best interests of the child” means, or “burden of proof” or a “diversion program”? Do you know what a “601” or “602” is? Hopefully you haven’t had that experience. Here’s one I don’t even know: the “reasonable person” standard. Answer: whatever a reasonable person would do. Now you understand.

Kids and the Law also footnotes California’s legal codes topic by topic.

I highly recommend this 15-page easy-to-read, user-friendly guide.

Even if you don’t need it for your kids, send it to a friend.

Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter/Simon, with offices in Truckee and Reno. He may be reached at or at the firm’s Web site

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