First let me say this: I am incredibly immature in certain ways. I recently spent a couple of years going through a time of stress where I found I was too terrified to even leave my room. the last year I've changed that, I've even started college classes, but I'm still behind. I will be turning 23 June 3rd but things that are most likely common knowledge to the majority of teenagers are not common knowledge to me. I feel horrible about this but it's a fact right now. I'm getting better but I'm still very ignorant compared to others in my age range. For example: I did not know that it was a criminal violation to drive with a tag attached to your car that is no longer registered to the vehicle in question. I did not even know that my tag was no longer registered despite the fact that I own the car and was probably present when the tag registration was switched.
My car recently broke down. It was an unfortunate event but it was fortunate timing. It broke down at the same time my mother's boyfriend's mother was trying to get rid of her car. I got her old car (with the tags still attached). I went to an office to have the vehicle registered in my name. I feel incredibly stupid for this, I really do, but I did not realize the tags from my old car needed to be switched over to the new car. That was probably one of the things I was there in the office having taken care of but I didn't even know it. I just knew I had to hand the woman at the counter an envelope and that when she said I could leave, I could. I didn't even know how to switch tags (I thought some special tool was required) I knew my mother's boyfriend asked me to give him her old tag when I replaced it with my tag but I thought that was the only reason I needed to change them. His mother hardly ever drives so I thought there was no rush. He asked for it and when I asked if he knew how to remove a tag he said we could just take care of it later, I'm guessing he didn't know it was an offense either. I had no idea that it was no longer an acceptable tag to be on my car. I've been driving it for months with no problem.
Well tonight I was pulled over. I wasn't speeding, all of my lights were in working order. I was utterly mystified. Finally, after looking carefully over my vehicle registration and insurance papers, the police officer informed me that my tags were not the tags registered to the car I was driving. I apologized and told him that I had just recently gotten the car and that I didn't know they were no longer registered. I told him I had tags I could attach at home but lacked the specialized tools required to change tags. He then said, a screwdriver? and asked me if I had any drugs in the car. After spending a long while back at his car (during which time he called for backup) he came back and gave me a ticket. But it wasn't a ticket, it was an appointment at court. He told me that what I had done was not a traffic violation but a criminal one. He said that I can go to jail for up to a year.
I've been crying for the four hours since then. I'm so scared I feel sick to my stomach. I'm sure some of you have felt it; rather than the dull unease it's a sharp cold sensation in your midsection. I'm terrified of jail: I'm terrified of germs, I'm terrified of people, I'm terrified of certain sounds, I'm terrified of florescent lights. When things go in unexpected ways I find myself unable to cope. My mother (a school teacher) said she once had a friend who was, as a very young adult, found to be in possession of marijuana. She said that because of that, this woman is unable to work as a school teacher. Because this misdemeanor is a permanent mark on her record. Will that happen to me? I'm so afraid of that thought. I've never been in trouble with the law in my life. Well, I had a traffic ticket once, but it was made a warning because I had an otherwise immaculate driving record. Since I've started school again I've gotten straight A's. I've been working so hard to catch up. Will this permanently mark me as a criminal? Will I really go to jail? Will I have to testify in court before of a roomful of people??? The officer said I will be required to speak to a judge. I haven't the slightest idea what to expect, and that in and of itself is terrifying. I want to try to call the number they gave me tomorrow. The court appearance is set for the sixth. I'll have a nervous breakdown if I have to hold these fears until then. Does anyone think it would be possible to move it up to a sooner date?
I know it is doubtful that there is anyone here who can give me definitive answers to the questions above. But right now I'm feeling a horrible panic. I often keep a night-time sleeping schedule. There is nobody else available to talk at this time. I don't really know anyone outside of my blood relatives anyways, and they're all in bed. I know it's probably an impossible request but I suppose I'm seeking reassurance. Has anyone ever been in a similar situation? How has it turned out for you? Even if you haven't been in a similar situation please feel free to respond. Any response will be greatly appreciated.