When you become 18 years of age, it is important that you become aware of state and local laws, which can be helpful to you in making good, informed decisions. Remember, good decisions make life easier while bad decisions create grief and can cause problems for you.

What privileges do you have at the age of 18? You can vote. You are no longer a minor. You can be independent of your parents. You can sue in your own name, make a contract, rent an apartment and buy a car.

However, there are also some responsibilities. At the age of 18, your parents are no longer legally required to support you. You can be personally sued. You have the right and duty to pay for whatever you buy (such as a car.) You may go to war since males must register for the military. You are expected to pay state and federal income taxes. And, in the face of criminal charges, you will not have the protection of the juvenile court and laws.

The following topics are explained in more detail in the Foundation of the State Bar of California publication, "When You Turn 18: A Survival Guide for Teenagers," available at: www.calbar.ca.gov/Public/Pamphlets/WhenYouTurn18.aspx

ALCOHOL


The legal drinking age in California is 21 years of age. It is against the law to sell or give alcoholic beverages to a person under 21 or to let the person drink those beverages in a bar or store.


CRIMES

A crime is doing something that is against the law, which is punishable by a fine or imprisonment. There are three types of crimes: Felonies, Misdemeanors & Infractions


DOMESTIC AND OTHER ABUSE

Domestic violence is certain kinds of abuse directed toward a spouse, former spouse, cohabitant or former cohabitant or with whom a person has had a dating or engagement relationship or with whom the abuser has had a child.


DRUGS & NARCOTICS

It is illegal to use, possess, transport, sell, give away or offer any narcotics or dangerous drugs to others.

GUNS & OTHER WEAPONS

A deadly weapon is any object that can be used to cause death or serious injury. If you are under 18 years of age, it is illegal for anyone to sell you a firearm or to furnish you with a firearm; and it is illegal for you to possess a concealable firearm or carry a loaded firearm of any kind on yourself, in a vehicle or in a public place where it is prohibited.


HATE CRIMES

A hate crime is any criminal act in which the perpetrator targets the victim because of the victim’s perceived race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, or disability status.

TOBACCO

It is unlawful to sell or give away any tobacco product to minors under 18 years of age.



RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES

BANKING

Cash, check or plastic? This is a very real choice when you are 18. A pad of blank checks or a plastic card do not guarantee fiscal security.


CONSUMER PROTECTION

There are California state laws regulating consumer products such as motor vehicle sales and repairs, home solicitations and home improvement contracts.


CONTRACTS

A contract is an agreement between two or more competent parties for a consideration. Contracts may be oral or written and must be legal.


CREDIT

One of the easiest ways to get in over your head is to use credit cards. When you become 18, your parents don’t have to bail you out financially, it is your responsibility.

DIVORCE

In California, there are two grounds for divorce, irreconcilable differences which caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage and incurable insanity.


EMPLOYMENT

Employment, as in making a living, getting a job. Unfortunately, jobs don’t come with warranties. Generally, an employer can fire an employee without a specific reason; however, they may not fire or discriminate against someone based on race, gender, sexual orientation, color or religion.


HOUSING

Housing – a roof over your head!


JURY DUTY

When you become 18, you legally become an adult, and makes you eligible for jury duty. The other requirements to serve as a juror are that you are a United States Citizen and you are able to read and understand the English language.


MARRIAGE

At age 18, you can marry without the consent of your parents. Marriage is a legal contract between a man and a woman for life. State law creates the relationship and describes the consequences of divorce and other marital problems.


MILITARY SERVICE

If you are a male citizen of the United States, you must register for the volunteer service within six months of your 18th birthday. Women are exempt.



TORTS

A tort is committed when you injury a person, their property or their reputation. It doesn’t matter whether the injury was done on purpose or by accident. You may be sued by the victim in civil court.


TRANSPORTATION

When you become 18, there are some changes and more responsibilities to driving. First, you are legally an adult and assume liability for your own traffic violations or accidents and you must have proof of insurance.


VOTING

When you become 18, you have the right to help decide this Country’s future. You may vote in the precinct in which you live if you are a citizen of the United States, if you have registered to vote 15 days before the election and if you are not in prison or on parole for conviction of a felony.

BANKING

Cash, check or plastic? This is a very real choice when you are 18. A pad of blank checks or a plastic card do not guarantee fiscal security.


CONSUMER PROTECTION

There are California state laws regulating consumer products such as motor vehicle sales and repairs, home solicitations and home improvement contracts.


CONTRACTS

A contract is an agreement between two or more competent parties for a consideration. Contracts may be oral or written and must be legal.


CREDIT

One of the easiest ways to get in over your head is to use credit cards. When you become 18, your parents don’t have to bail you out financially, it is your responsibility.

DIVORCE

In California, there are two grounds for divorce, irreconcilable differences which caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage and incurable insanity.


EMPLOYMENT

Employment, as in making a living, getting a job. Unfortunately, jobs don’t come with warranties. Generally, an employer can fire an employee without a specific reason; however, they may not fire or discriminate against someone based on race, gender, sexual orientation, color or religion.


HOUSING

Housing – a roof over your head!


JURY DUTY

When you become 18, you legally become an adult, and makes you eligible for jury duty. The other requirements to serve as a juror are that you are a United States Citizen and you are able to read and understand the English language.


MARRIAGE

At age 18, you can marry without the consent of your parents. Marriage is a legal contract between a man and a woman for life. State law creates the relationship and describes the consequences of divorce and other marital problems.


MILITARY SERVICE

If you are a male citizen of the United States, you must register for the volunteer service within six months of your 18th birthday. Women are exempt.



TORTS

A tort is committed when you injury a person, their property or their reputation. It doesn’t matter whether the injury was done on purpose or by accident. You may be sued by the victim in civil court.


TRANSPORTATION

When you become 18, there are some changes and more responsibilities to driving. First, you are legally an adult and assume liability for your own traffic violations or accidents and you must have proof of insurance.


VOTING

When you become 18, you have the right to help decide this Country’s future. You may vote in the precinct in which you live if you are a citizen of the United States, if you have registered to vote 15 days before the election and if you are not in prison or on parole for conviction of a felony.