NOTE: the following material was posted in a PUBLIC forum and was NOT an attorney-client privileged communication. The Law Office of Bruce Godfrey STRICTLY observes client confidentiality; Avvo.com is a PUBLIC website for PUBLIC discussions between attorneys and NON-clients and is reproduced here for educational purposes. This posting also corrects a couple of minor typos in my original answer.
Juvenile Law question from Baltimore, Maryland:
I am 15 and will be turning 16 on July 18th. I have a boyfriend who turned 19 on January 24th. Thats a 3 1/2 year age difference. My mother does not approve so she has filed an order of protection against him. I have said that we have not engaged in intercourse, but I was told that my mothers suspicion was enough for the order to become active. If this is true, shouldn’t the order become void once I am 16? Also do I hace any say so in the matter if this case go’s to court? Or will it not matter because I am a minor?
T. Bruce Godfrey’s response:
In order for a protective order to be filed in MD, technically this would have to be a “peace order”, there would have to be evidence of him not just being your boyfriend but of him in some way disturbing the peace. She is certainly allowed to control her property, rented or leased, and to govern your life to a large extent until you turn 18, not by court order but by you being a minor in her care.
The court may elect to take your wishes into some account but need not do so in the event that a peace order request is filed. My advice: read the peace order request if it is actually filed, which I doubt it will be until you have proof in hand. If there is law in MD of which I am unaware allowing for a stay-away order to keep a boyfriend away from a teenager, as opposed to away from a house, I ask my sisters and brothers in the Bar to correct me.
The following is not an endorsement of intercourse in this situation. Maryland makes certain defined sexual acts a crime for the older party when the younger is under 16 AND there exists a more-than 4 year gap between the parties’ age.
Rule of Professional Conduct 2.1, which governs me as an attorney in Maryland, states as follows: “In representing a client, a lawyer shall exercise independent professional judgment and render candid advice. In rendering advice, a lawyer may refer not only to law but to other considerations such as moral, economic, social and political factors, that may be relevant to the client’s situation.” While I am NOT your lawyer and you are NOT my client – please do go get an attorney through Legal Aid or the city Bar at 410-539-3112 if you wish – I wil apply the spirit of this rule and give you, my NON-client, “candid advice.”
A personal request. I have two disabled sons, and would prefer that social service money go to support them, rather than your baby daughter or son that you may not now want to raise at 15-16. Anything you can do to avoid being a teenaged pregnant drain on social services, e.g. avoiding pregnancy risks, would be greatly appreciated by every Maryland taxpayer filling out their final tax forms this weekend. You are a minor and your boyfriend is 19 going out with a 15 year-old, which suggests to me that he probably isn’t father of the year material. Further, he may well be useless in this economy for child support unless he has a government job or has union protection, and maybe even then.
Baltimore does not need one more g*****mn pregnant teenager. Really. This is not me telling you not to be sexually active, but asking you bluntly to avoid sexual activity that involves risk of pregnancy (or ALL sexual activity) at this time – as a taxpayer who pays a lot of child support every week and works overtime in order to do so. Pregnancy turns the lives of educated adults with jobs and savings upside down; you cannot even drive yet legally. No one in Maryland wants to fund your prenatal visits, your formula, your WIC, your “Independence Card” – all of which may be your pregnant and new-Mom-at-16 future.
There is a resource for sexual health information for teenagers online, Scarleteen, run by dynamite sex educator Heather Corinna. You may already know most of what’s in that site, but you might actually find useful information there.
As for your mother, all I want to do is send her an enormous chocolate pie in gratitude to her for giving a damn enough to chase this grown man away from a teenage girl. Or a steak dinner, maybe a spa treatment or a trip to Atlantic City. Because of taxes, I cannot buy those things myself now. This man should be dating women his own age, or better yet pursuing a trade and getting his money in order, or even better going to trade school, college, the military or apprenticing somewhere. He should leave 10th graders alone, and you yourself have a future to build – an amazing future with freedom and choices. Don’t toss it away for this “dude.”