This sponsored guest article has been written by Liz S Coyle from JacksonWhite Attorneys at Law. This article is intended for our US audience.
Drug possession is considered a criminal offence regardless of the person’s age or the fact if they were using the drugs or just possessed them for any reason. Minors who are caught with drugs usually make things worse for themselves Their inexperience and lack of knowledge in the criminal justice system and their rights and obligations can make them take irrational steps as an attempt to get out of the situation with as little damage as possible, yet as the cases show, they can only make it worse for themselves and their words and actions can actually lead to a conviction.
In cases like this, asking for help from an experienced attorney is the best thing to do. Laws differ between adults and minors in relation to drug charges, so a good lawyer can make a great difference in the outcome from the court case.
Potential Drug-Related Charges for Minors
Drug-related charges differ from state to state. In some states, marijuana has been decriminalized for individuals over the age of 21 for personal use, yet in others, it is still treated at the same level as other drugs such as cocaine and crystal meth.
The gravity of the charges mostly depends on the amount of drug that the person was caught with, the type of substance and the intention of what to do with the substance
For example, a small amount of marijuana for personal use will not result in serious charges as the possession of the same amount of heroin would.
In fact, being caught with less than an ounce of marijuana as a minor will mean that the person might be convicted to up to a year in prison and $1000 fine in most states. Still, for first-time offenders, if it can be proven that the drug was intended for personal use only, charges can be dropped in exchange for an alternative sentence.
However, only the possession of marijuana can be classified as a first-degree misdemeanor. For all other drugs, such as crystal meth, cocaine, ecstasy and similar are usually classified as a third-degree misdemeanor and the charges can go up to 10 years in prison for possession over 20 grams. The heroin possession charges are the most serious one and if caught with an amount larger than 20 grams, the conviction can be up to 30 years in prison and up to $10.000 fine.
It is also important to point out that the charges can become more serious if the minor was caught with drugs in less than 1000 feet away from a school or a church.
Why Should You Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney?
There are some major differences when it comes to sentencing an adult and sentencing a juvenile. In drug possession cases where adults are involved, the purpose of the sentence is to punish the person for their actions. When it comes to minors, the main point is to go through a rehabilitation process and ultimately not repeat the offence. In that sense, a good criminal defense attorney will be able to secure the best possible outcome out of the situation.
For a minor, one such felony can have long-term consequences. For example, if the minor has a license to operate a vehicle, the license can be suspended. The worst possible outcome is the fact that college admission could be denied due to the criminal record, or if the person is already rolled into college they can receive a suspension or expulsion.
On the positive side of things, drug possession by minors can have fewer consequences if it is addressed by a good attorney.
For the first felony on possession of illegal substances for minors, it is possible to have the charges dismissed if a good criminal defense attorney takes over the case. Participation is diversionary programs, probation or counseling might be negotiated, and the charges might be dropped without having the case going in a criminal record.
Since laws differ depending on the place where you live, the best option is to contact an attorney who specializes in criminal defense in your state. A knowledgeable professional would be able to give you the proper advice and build the case in the most adequate way possible to give you the best chance of minimizing the sentence or having the conviction dropped.
Drug possession charges where minors are involved can be just a childish mistake that will result in their life taking a completely different turn. It can reflect on their future but at least the law allows for alternative sentences in order to rehabilitate them and make them learn from their mistakes. In such cases, getting in touch with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible is the best option and gives you high chances to minimize the damage to a bright future.