One Mistake Away From Jail

Above the Law?

"My parents try to control me, but I don't really listen to them. I just completely ignore them and do what I want anyway," says 16-year-old Chris. "I had problems in the past with my anger."

Chris' stepmom, Lisa, says she fears for the teen's future. "Every time the phone rings, we just cringe, because we don't know if it's law enforcement calling us, letting us know that Chris has gotten in trouble again," she says.

"I think that some of the things I do can be pretty serious, but most of it's just minor," Chris says.

"Chris has committed robbery several times. He stole his grandmother's car, stole our cars, broke and entered into a house, took computer equipment, camera equipment," says his mom, Kerry. "What he doesn't realize is that as of age 17, they can charge you as an adult, and he is less than a month away from being 17. Chris is one step away from jail if he does not get help today."

Chris' mother and stepmom recently made a startling discovery: the teen is using drugs. "This is the baggie that we found in his room which " I don't know if you can see, there's a little bit of marijuana in there," says Lisa on home videotape.

When the women confront their son with the contraband, he says, "That is not mine. I did not have it in my room. I swear to you. Where did you find it?"

"Underneath your VCR," Lisa says.

"Let me see it."

Kerry hand holds the baggie up to his face. "Smell it. It's marijuana, Chris."

"You could get arrested for having that," Chris says cynically. He picks the pot out of the baggie and plops it into his mouth.

"What the hell are you doing?"

"You don't have no more, bitch," Chris retorts.

Dr. Phil addresses Chris. "Watching yourself on video there, what's your reaction to that?"

"I can't believe that I would actually talk to my parents like that," Chris replies.

Dr. Phil runs down a list of Chris' rebellious behavior. "You've broken into the house. You've stolen computers and electronics. You weren't charged because you were a minor. You skipped school to get high with your friends. You took your stepdad's truck while he was asleep. You got stuck, so you stole your mother's credit card to pay for the tow of the car that you stole from your stepfather," he says.

"That's true," Chris says.

"You recently got into a fight with your father. You started choking him. You threw your mother against the wall. You got in a fistfight with your stepdad. You've been physical with your stepmother," Dr. Phil reads. "Am I reading all of that right?"

"Some parts of it are correct," Chris replies. "The part about pushing my mother against the wall, I don't remember doing that."

"That might have been the time you held the bow and arrow on her," Lisa chimes in.

"No, that was the time Paige was home," Kerry clarifies. "It was just me and Paige, and you were mad because I wouldn't give you a ride."

"Now I remember," Chris says.

Dr. Phil continues his indictment of the youth. "At 15, you were arrested for distributing a controlled substance. That was a felony. It was dropped to a misdemeanor. You spent 45 days in juvie, and you say juvie is just a joke," he says, reading from his notes. "I bet you you wouldn't think San Quentin was a joke."

Dr. Phil tries to appeal to Chris' greed. "This can't be fun for you," he says. "You're drinking and smoking dope, right?

"I don't drink, but I do smoke," the teen answers.

"How often do you smoke?"

"Whenever I was in school, probably every day. Since then, probably every weekend."

"Where do you get the money to get it?"' Dr. Phil probes.

"My parents, sometimes," Chris responds.

"When he was in school, we were giving him daily lunch money. Come to find out, he was spending it on other things," Kerry says. "We soon quit giving him money."

"Are you stealing to get money for your drugs?" Dr. Phil asks Chris. 

When the teen answers in the negative, Dr. Phil says, "You're getting the money for these drugs somewhere, and I want to know where you're getting the money."

"My friends, mostly, have the drugs," Chris admits.

"Those aren't friends, by the way," Dr. Phil observes.

"Do you speak to your mother and stepmother sometimes like a loudmouth bully?" Dr. Phil asks Chris.

"Sometimes, yes."

"This is the woman who brought you into this world. She protected you, she held you, she fed you. When you were sick, she stayed up all night. She sacrificed so she could buy things for you. Do you ever feel any sense of shame for calling her an [expletive]?" Dr. Phil inquires.

"Not right after I say it, but after I, like, have time to think about it, yes."

Dr. Phil notes that Kerry and Lisa get along swimmingly. "But neither one of you get along with him," he says.

"No. It's difficult," Lisa says.

"We love him, but yes, it's very hard to live with him," Kerry adds. [AD]

Dr. Phil introduces Thomas Rubinson, a Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney. During his 17 years as a trial attorney, he prosecuted 117 juvenile and gang murder cases and tried 88 felony jury trials.

"How much trouble do you think you would have putting this guy away with his history?" Dr. Phil asks Thomas. 

"Coming from where he's coming from, with his background and his criminal history, in particular, he's behind the eight ball," the attorney replies.

Dr. Phil turns to a long list of potential charges against Chris displayed on a large monitor behind them. They include: breaking and entering, which carries a penalty of six months in jail and a $500 fine; animal cruelty, which carries a penalty of one year in jail and $1,000 fine; burglary, assault and grand theft auto, which all carry a charge of seven years in prison; and 15 years for identity theft.

"Do you think you'll ever get caught and prosecuted for anything?" Dr. Phil asks Chris.

"If I keep doing what I'm doing, yes," the teen replies.

"The alternative is to figure out a way to clean your act up, right?"