Juvenile Drug Possession Can Ruin Your Future

Many drugs, chemicals, and medications are controlled and regulated by state and federal laws. If you have them without a valid prescription, you could face drug possession charges. When someone under 18 knowingly has a regulated drug without a good reason, it's considered illegal, and they might face juvenile criminal charges.

For adults caught with controlled substances, they're charged with a crime and their cases go to regular district court. But for juveniles, it's different. Their cases go to juvenile court, which is less formal and offers more alternatives than the regular criminal justice system.

Juvenile Drug Possession

Drug possession for juveniles means having a controlled or illegal substance without a good reason. Often, these charges come up during routine traffic stops when police find drugs in the car or after questioning the driver. Juveniles can be charged even if they don't have the drug on them, as long as they have access to it.

Common substances involved in juvenile drug possession cases include marijuana, alcohol, prescription medications, and inhalers. Prescription drugs are often misused by people aged 14 and older. It's okay for a juvenile to have prescription drugs if they have a valid prescription. But if someone with a prescription gives pills from their bottle to another person, the one without the prescription can be charged with juvenile drug possession, and the one sharing the drug can be charged with distributing a controlled substance.

Juvenile Drug Possession Penalties

Juveniles face serious consequences when charged with a drug possession violation. Even though the crime of drug possession is the same for adults and juveniles, the juvenile justice process is different and provides greater options. Juvenile law tries to find a solution that focuses on what is in the best interest of the juvenile, while criminal law tends to focus on the punishment of an offender. The range of options are not guaranteed but can be considered in juvenile drug possession cases.

  • Probation: If a juvenile court orders probation, the juvenile will have to comply with specific terms. For example, attending school, performing community service, or a range of other requirements may be involved. Typically during the probation time period, the juvenile will have to regularly report to a juvenile probation officer.
  • Counseling: Juvenile courts like to focus on rehabilitation and drug counseling is a great option. A court can order the juvenile, and their parents, to attend drug counseling in hopes of educating and rehabilitating the offender.
  • Diversion: Sometimes known as informal probation, diversion is a common consequence for juvenile drug possession. Like probation, a juvenile on diversion must comply with court-ordered terms but they do so without having to go before the juvenile court. If the diversion program is successfully completed, the charges are essentially dismissed. Diversion programs are usually available for first-time offenders and not all jurisdictions use such programs.
  • Detention: Home confinement, or placement with a foster family, juvenile home or juvenile detention center are all detention-related options for juvenile drug possession. Detention is rarer and considered when other factors are present, such as repeated offenses or if the drug possession is a result of a robbery or violent crime.

The juvenile courts tend to be open to various treatment options and will exhaust all possibilities before incarcerating a juvenile.

Juvenile Drug Possession Attorney

Working with a good lawyer will go a long way as a drug possession charge could impact a juveniles chances for a quality education, participation in extracurricular activities, and future employment. Whether you are a parent or a juvenile, find an experienced defense attorney who will review the facts and determine if police acted properly during their search and confiscation of the drugs. Juvenile drug possession is a serious situation, contact Bruno Law and work with an expert to avoid the harsh and unwanted penalties.