nightrose83 (nightrose83) wrote in little_details,

Underage laws and CPS in Louisiana

Hey folks,

This comm has proven invaluable in the past, so now I have a multi-parter legal slurry under the cut here, along with a scenario and background. I've found a few sites that have been useful on Google, as well as gone looking under site tags here, but nothing fits exactly what I'm looking for and I have a few questions...

Setting: Present day-ish Louisiana (approximately the year 2000 by our reckoning, AU, with some magic thrown in).

Background: MC is a now-20 year old Caucasian male living with his sister, who is 10 years older. She's been his legal guardian for about three and a half to four years by that point. MC's father passed away when he was 11 and his mother got into alcohol abuse by steadily increasing degrees while his sister lived elsewhere in the state and didn't visit much. Established facts are that he was in a 'gang' from 12 to about 15/16 but I use the term loosely here because they were more a group of kids ranging in ages from 12-18 who hung out, drank, painted graffiti/did small time vandalism, and probably drank/did some pot at their parents' houses while they were out/not giving too much of a hoot as to what their little snowflakes were up to. The pot use wouldn't be public and infrequent, and Louisiana state law profiles for underage drinking say that as long as the alcohol provider is of age and it's private property, there's no state-enforced liability (unless I'm reading something incorrectly). I think I may lean to the parents being there and not caring much about what the kids get up to.

I'd like MC to get caught tagging one day for the first time when he's about 13 while he's sober and not in possession of anything illegal, something small, damages totaling less than $500 all-told. I've Googled some sites who say that while the penalties for small-time damage are generally 'Mom pays the fine equivalent to the amount of damage, you clean it up and there might be some probation/community service involved' I've been told that it also depends on the judge and the age of the offender, as well as the number of offenses.

My questions for this section are:

1. How would court proceedings for this sort of situation go? I know juvenile trials aren't tried before a jury, just a judge, and I'm assuming MC's mother would have a lawyer specialized in that type of law, so would it be fairly realistic to say that MC's mom gets fined (she's still fairly competent by this point and the drinking hasn't gotten too bad yet) and MC needs to clean up the damage? Maybe throw in community service?

MC would then probably be less inclined to hang around his buddies as much after this. His grades would probably hold a low C-average after going up from Ds and Fs, and he'd act out in class less. Unfortunately for him, Mom's drinking gets worse by the time he's 14/15, and by the time he hits about 15, Mom's going off for a few days at a time to get drunk and generally do whatever she likes. MC is lying to his sister when she calls (when she gets time to), and still tries to attend school somewhat regularly. Then, I was thinking one of two things (depending on the answers here) could happen:

1. MC attends a larger-than-usual party at a friend's, where drinking and drugs are involved. MC's 'friends' talk him into staying, where he gets drunk. When the party gets loud enough, neighbors call the police, and of course, everyone gets in trouble. The alcohol would have been purchased by someone of legal age, but most of the drinkers would have been too young to consume it. I'm assuming this would mean when MC turns 18, he would have to wait longer to get his license, but there's one small caveat--story opens when MC is 17 and living with his sister in Japan. How would the sentence carry over? I'm assuming he would also be put on probation (at least) and would need to check with his probation officer/go back to court before he moved anywhere.


2. MC still tries to keep up with school, but, in either scenario, Mom is still away for increasing periods of time over a period of a few months. Teachers begin to notice that he's coming to school not very well kept and/or sick, and try to use his school files to get a hold of her when he needs to go to the nurse one day. His first emergency contact number would be a neighbor who is also a family friend MC would have stayed with once in awhile until he started to try hiding what was going on at home from most people/avoiding contact with them. Neighbor comes to pick him up and tells the school that Mom hasn't been seen around in awhile, so I'm assuming CPS is then informed. Mom is tracked down and brought back, where legal proceedings happen and she's placed in rehab under court order, where she eventually would also probably not contest/ask to surrender her rights to her son. Older sister is also contacted (since other relatives live out-of-state and don't want to take on the responsibility of raising him).

My questions here are:

1. I know CPS makes it their priority to keep the family together, but if Mom is still messed up and isn't doing well in residential rehab after the period of time set out by the judge, and turns out needing psychiatric help as well for a longer period of time, would older sister be able to file a petition to adopt?

2. I'm assuming Mom would be charged with neglect of some sort. Would older sister's home be able to be used as an emergency shelter if it met CPS inspection? If not, would it be plausible for him to stay with the neighbor assuming her home checked out?

3. Any sites I've been able to find on CPS procedure are mostly in legalese. What would the general legal/home visitation procedure be? How long would they keep checking in to make sure older sister is raising him correctly? What would happen after they move to Japan (they get there shortly after MC turns 17; the legal age for majority for most things in Japan is about 20).

4. I'm assuming sister also has a lawyer and there's a caseworker. Would they take MC's wishes into consideration if he specifically requests to live with his sister?

Google Searches:

Underage drinking penalties in Louisiana
Court proceedings in Louisiana
Family adoptions in Louisiana
CPS procedure
How laws determine an unfit parent
CPS definitions of neglect in juvenile

Thanks to anyone who can shed some light on this. These questions have been driving me insane, and while I've hinted at some things in MC's past, I can use some of this as a stepping stone to finally flesh out some of what happened to him. I'm sorry if some of these things seem like common sense or if I'm overlooking anything important, but I wanted to minimize a case of 'ur doin it rong' if possible.
Tags: usa: louisiana

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