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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
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    3

    Default 18-Year-Old Threatened With Charges if he Contacts His Minor Girlfriend

    My question involves juvenile law in the State of: North Carolina

    Our son was 18 last summer when he and his 15-year old girlfriend became intimate. Said girlfriend subsequently went for a walk one day, after her parents had told her to stay away from our son. She called our son who then picked her up, and took her to a party. He took her home the next morning. He does realize that keeping her out all night was a stupid thing to do, but insists that they all just crashed and nothing else happened -- and we believe him, esp as we are familiar with the other kids who were there.

    After these events occurred, the girl's father arrived to discuss what had taken place and to warn our son to stay away from his daughter. Our son promised to do so, and he meant it.

    The problem is that this is not a huge city. These kids went to the same high school, were in the same youth group at church together, and have a number of the same friends. So no matter how hard he tries to avoid her, they have come into contact with each other. And every time he was been blamed and threatened with arrest for his "criminal activity." Since the girl was only 15, and he was 18 when they were intimate, he, and we, thought the girl's parents meant that he could be arrested for that. We’ve been very scared.

    Our son left for his freshman year at college this past August. Of course, it seemed like whenever he was home he/we would see the girl. And of course it was his fault if their eyes even met. Between trying to avoid the girl, and receiving continuing messages that he was to have no contact, our son became pretty depressed and almost physically ill. He had a terrible first semester at college, yet he's always been a decent student.

    In late November, four months after this all started, our son received a letter from a local attorney. It explained that if he did not cease ALL communication with the girl, our son would be charged under NC General Statute 14-316.1, contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The letter also went into LOTS of detail about the "collateral damage" that such a charge would bring -- no more college, no future job, no future housing, basically no life…. We recognized that this threatening letter may have been sent since the semester break was approaching. Our son responded to the attorney and promised no contact, again.

    Most upsetting was learning over the semester break that the girl's father has spoken of all this to other people at our church, folks that know us and our son. He has made our son out to be a monster. But he's just a very scared college kid.

    Our son was home from school this past weekend. While home, he followed through on plans to meet some friends at lunchtime at the high school. On his way out, he bumped into the girl. Of course, a teacher he had known saw them together. The teacher knew the girl, too, and knew she was supposed to be in class. He ordered our son to leave, and the school called the girl's parents. When he got home -- have you ever seen an 18-year old young man cry? -- he called the girl's father and left a message to say that he had inadvertently bumped into the girl at the school, that he was there visiting other friends, and had no plan to see her. That afternoon, even seeing the mailman arrive felt threatening -- we kept expecting the police to arrive.

    That's when we pulled out the attorney's letter from Nov, and I did some NC General Statute research. I can't tell you how RELIEVED we were to realize that the 15/18 age difference isn't enough to cause our son to be charged with a felony, and be sent to jail. But we are still waiting for the girl's parent’s response to the school incident. A youth group leader called our son last night to find out what happened this weekend -- apparently the girl's father announced that our son was "walking a thin line."

    So now, after all this lovely cathartic writing, I'll get to my question.
    What can our son really be charged with? What do we really need to be worried about?

    And what about the emotional distress and defamation of character? Isn't this harassment? Our son is a mess and scared to death that he could be arrested at any time. He's now afraid to come home from school, and when home he's afraid to visit friends, afraid to go to church, afraid to even go to the mall. And because of all this, he's doing poorly in school and even seeing a counselor, something he's never done before. And we feel that we’ve wasted at least a semester of tuition, maybe two.

    Any suggestions re how to handle all this?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Somewhere near Canada
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    35,894

    Default Re: What Do We Really Need to Be Worried About

    Keep your son in counseling.

    This is not defamation of character, nor does it rise to the level of legal harassment. Your son messed up - these are, unfortunately, the consequences of his actions.


    Good to see you showing such concern for the 15 year old child's welfare.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
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    3

    Default Re: What Do We Really Need to Be Worried About

    Yes, he knows he messed up.

    Are there any real charges they could bring? He only runs into the girl in public places, and goes out of his way to avoid friends/places if he thinks she may be there -- he doesn't want to cramp her space or get her into more trouble. But he lives here, when he's not at college, and our public places brush against their public places. What are our son's rights? Does he have to live with these threats for two more years, until the girl turns 18?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    16,474

    Default Re: What Do We Really Need to Be Worried About

    Quote Quoting cathy5
    View Post
    Yes, he knows he messed up.

    Are there any real charges they could bring? He only runs into the girl in public places, and goes out of his way to avoid friends/places if he thinks she may be there -- he doesn't want to cramp her space or get her into more trouble. But he lives here, when he's not at college, and our public places brush against their public places. What are our son's rights? Does he have to live with these threats for two more years, until the girl turns 18?
    Going to the school was a mistake. He should have known that there was a chance that he would run into her there. What he needs to do is make a concerted effort NOT to go places where she is likely to be. The school was obviously someplace that where she was going to be.

    You need a consult with a criminal law attorney to find out exactly what, if any crimes he could be charged with at this time, and what is the likelihood that a DA would actually charge him. Her parents can swear out a complaint, but only the DA can actually charge him with a crime.

    You also might consider moving so that your public places were less likely to be their public places.

  5. #5

    Default Re: What Do We Really Need to Be Worried About

    The age of consent in NC is 16, so the potential for criminal charges will depend on the EXACT dates of birth of the parties involved. One day more than EXACTLY three years difference, and there could be problems. So long as she is still a minor, her parents have the absolute legal right to say who can and can't associate with their child - even if the child WANTS that association. Right now, there's only their threat to pursue a criminal complaint regarding delinquency - and between you, me, and the fencepost, an attorney cannot tell you what anything would be charged as, or if charges would actually be filed even if such a report took place. He can absolutely threaten to pursue the matter, but cannot accurately tell you what will happen, if anything, once that report is filed. Unless a prosecutor has proof that the "run in" was purposeful, I don't see them charging forward to pursue it in that manner. However, much MORE likely is that her parents would have little trouble getting a restraining order against your son, including spelling out specific places where his presence occurring in conjunction with hers could result in arrest - especially at her school (where he is no longer a student), any place where she becomes employed, etc.

    Until she is 18, that will remain a possibility. So long as he makes no form of contact with her AT ALL, and vacates situations where they find themselves at the same place at the same time, he should be clear from issues, even IF such a restraining order is issued. So it sounds like he's already behaving as if the restriction is already in place, and that's good practice and should result in any possible future complaints having little or nothing for a prosecutor to use, even if her parents want to pursue the issue further (courts really do "get it" that people do have to do things like go to the grocery store, drive around, etc.)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
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    3

    Default Re: 18-Year-Old Threatened With Charges if he Contacts His Minor Girlfriend

    With potential upcoming threats coming from the girl's parents re the inadvertent run-in last weekend, do you think it would be worth our son writing a letter to her parents to spell out where he will not be in the future -- at the school, at the youth group meetings or organized events -- and that he will immediately leave if he sees her anywhere else he may happen to be. He has "ceased all communication," but no other parameters were mentioned. Or maybe I should call the father? Or just let it alone and hope it goes nowhere? But the waiting is killing us and already sabotaging this semester.

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