What happens if I am charged with a crime after I turn 18?

First, always remember that you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Evidence that can be presented in court against you not only includes physical evidence but can include testimonial evidence. Evidence may include camera footage from the officers on scene and/or their vehicles. You have the right not to testify in court, but that decision is best made in consultation with your lawyer. Remember that anything you say about the offense can be repeated in court by anyone who hears you say that – it is an exception to the “hearsay rule” because it is presumed to be an admission or confession.

For all criminal offenses committed after your 18th birthday, you are tried as an adult. A record of convictions is maintained by the Commonwealth of Virginia and by the NCIC (National Crime Information Center). This permanent record may have negative impacts in many areas, including military enlistment eligibility, obtaining security clearances, ability to legally own firearms, immigration status, employment eligibility and whether you’re eligible to participate in certain government programs. Felony convictions remove your eligibility to vote. A procedure called expungement is available to remedy the record of convictions, but only if your conviction qualifies for that consideration by the court. If your case is taken “under advisement” by the court, that will affect negatively your right to have the case expunged, even if you successfully comply with the conditions of the advisement.