Drug Violations Law

What Is Juvenile Drug Possession?

Juvenile drug possession cases involve minors under the age of 18 who may have a controlled substance on their person or on their property for which they exercise exclusive control. Juvenile drug possession cases are handled differently than adult drug possession cases because of the individual’s young age. Drug possession by young people generally goes through the juvenile justice system instead of the criminal courts.

Some first-time juvenile offenders for drug possession can avoid a criminal record and have the charges dismissed. However, juvenile offenses and drug laws are different in every state. To understand your legal options and how to defend juvenile cases, talk to a drug defense attorney in your area.

Juvenile Drug Possession Laws

Drug possession involves knowingly or possessing a controlled substance. A controlled substance can include illegal narcotics or prescription drugs without a valid prescription. For example, criminal charges for possession of methamphetamines or possession of oxycontin without a prescription are both drug possession charges.

Possession can include actual possession or constructive possession. In juvenile law a child can be charged with two types of possession: “actual possession,” and “constructive possession.” Under the law, “actual possession,” means a child had the illegal drug on their person, in their pocket for instance, a place where they exercised exclusive control over the illegal drug, and knew it was an illegal drug.

A child can also be charged with drug possession if the illegal drug was found in a place like their locker, or a place under their exclusive control where other people normally do not have access, also known as “constructive possession.”

The specific charges for drug possession may depend on the particular type of drugs involved. States classify controlled substances based on their perceived dangers and medical uses. Under federal law, Schedule I drugs include substances like heroin and LSD.

Age of Juveniles and Minors

Different states have different laws for when minors are considered juveniles. In most states, the maximum age for the juvenile court system is 17 years old. A juvenile cannot be charged in juvenile delinquency court until the age of 10 years old.

In some states, juveniles can be charged in adult criminal court for more serious criminal charges. Talk to a criminal defense lawyer in your state to understand if you are facing adult court or juvenile detention.

Marijuana Possession by Minors

One of the most common juvenile drug possession charges involves marijuana. Many states have decriminalized the simple possession of marijuana or cannabis. Most states now allow marijuana use and possession for medical use. However, other states and the federal government still consider possession of marijuana to be a crime.

Drug Possession Without a Prescription

Prescription drugs are another common type of juvenile delinquency charge. Juveniles may find it easier to get possession of drugs from parents or family members with a legitimate prescription. It is a juvenile drug offense to be found possessing prescription drugs, including opioids, Xanax, or Adderall.

Juvenile Drug Possession Penalties

Juvenile offenders are treated differently than adults. Juvenile justice generally considers the how the court can help a child be rehabilitated. It is supposed to provide treatment to help the young person avoid re-offending. Juveniles accused of a first-time drug offense may be able to avoid time in an out-of-home placement facility by going through drug court, drug counseling, or a diversion program.

For drug possession offenses, juvenile penalties can include the following:

  • Chemical and Mental health inpatient and outpatient treatment
  • Drug and alcohol education
  • Community service
  • Juvenile probation
  • Fines
  • Suspended driver’s license

How Can a Juvenile Drug Crime Lawyer Help?

Some young people facing juvenile drug possession do not understand their rights or legal options after they are arrested. Drug possession is a crime, and possession of drugs with the intent to distribute can be a felony. Before you plead guilty to get a deal from the prosecutor, ensure you understand your rights.

Some drug crime convictions can make it more challenging to get a job, get scholarship money, or find housing. For young offenders, a juvenile drug crime attorney can explore your legal defense options to avoid juvenile detention. Your attorney may also be able to negotiate diversion, a continuance for dismissal, or drug court so you can participate in the probation program and avoid a mark on your record.

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