Hello, I have only been lurking here, but I read your post and felt the need to reply, as I can see, feel and understand the pain of your situation. I too have a stepson (I am married to his father) that is soon to be 17 and acts exactly like the child you are describing. His mother isn't absent but dropped him off at his fathers several years ago and handed over custody because she no longer wanted to deal with him, they see or speak very little of each other.
He has been in Juvenile Jail more times than I can count for what I consider just being stupid. He has cost us a small fortune in court cost and Juvelie detention fees. He has never done anything "bad" per say but he is extremely disrepectful to us, his teachers, his peers, the police. My husband gets up every morning at 5am to make my stepson get up and watches him get to the school bus and get on. Mind you, he has been kicked out of our public school system and now goes to an alternitive school so that too has been an issue.
He sits in his room and plays video games all day long, refuses to get a job, smokes in the house and is always asking for money. I went to the police and asked what my rights were...basically, he's under 18 and he has to do whatever I say or I can press unruly charges on him. Lucky for me, he respects me way more than he does anyone else and like you I try not to get into the middle of his battles with the law and his dad BUT...I also help pay for the food he eats, the toilet paper he wipes his butt with, the clothes on his back and the roof over his head, I have rights as a human being to voice my opinion and if he respects no one else he will respect me. We have a wonderful relationship and he would do anything for me but in return I am always kind to him and stern when I am pushed. Please feel free to message me, even if just to vent.
Good Luck.