Drug Violations Law

Sentencing for Juvenile Drug Possession

Key Takeaways:

  • Juvenile drug possession can lead to serious penalties like treatment programs or probation.
  • Drug laws vary by state; some consider marijuana possession less severe.
  • A lawyer can help a young person avoid harsh punishment and find rehab options.

When high school students are found in possession of marijuana or other illegal drugs, they can face juvenile drug possession charges. Depending on the individual’s age, they could face life-altering consequences. If they have a significant prior delinquency record, the youth could face out-of-home placement, or be ordered to enter and complete a treatment program.

An experienced attorney can help first-time offenders avoid criminal charges, including juvenile drug offenses. Juvenile cases and drug laws are different in every state. Talk to a drug defense attorney in your area to understand your legal options in a juvenile drug possession case.

What Is Juvenile Drug Possession?

Drug possession involves knowing possession of a controlled substance. Controlled substances are regulated by state and federal law and include illegal substances like LSD or heroin, and prescription medications like opioids or steroids.

For juveniles, drug possession charges may involve the drugs found in the person’s bag or pockets. Drug possession can also include drugs found in an area of the juvenile’s control, like a school locker or in their car.

The age for the juvenile court system can depend on the state. In some states, a juvenile is considered a minor 17 years old or younger. Other states have the juvenile court age limited to 16-year-olds and younger. In most states, a child cannot be charged in juvenile court unless they are at least 10 years of age or older.

Juvenile Marijuana Possession

Some young people find marijuana as easy to get as alcohol, including in states where marijuana possession has been decriminalized. Many states have medical and recreational cannabis available for anyone 21 or older. Other states and the federal government still treat marijuana as an illegal drug.

Prescription Drug Possession

Some young people begin experimenting with prescription drugs they get from friends or family members. Even though prescription drugs are legal with a valid prescription, possession of drugs by someone else who does not have a valid prescription for the drug can be illegal when the drug is a controlled substance.

Juvenile Drug Possession Penalties

Penalties for drug possession by juveniles are different than for adults. Juvenile justice is often based on treatment and rehabilitation. The penalties for drug possession by a young person can include the following:

  • Chemical Health and/or Mental Health inpatient or outpatient treatment
  • Education and drug counseling
  • Community service
  • Juvenile probation
  • Fines
  • Driver’s license restrictions

Juvenile Drug Treatment Court

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention has Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines. These guidelines are for juveniles who have substance abuse disorders and may not apply to all juvenile drug possession cases. Drug treatment court is an alternative to the criminal justice system, using a treatment-oriented approach to address substance abuse and mental health disorders.

Drug treatment court is not limited to those who are charged with drug offenses, like drug possession. Eligibility for juvenile drug treatment court includes young people with a substance use disorder and those with a moderate to high risk of reoffending. The drug treatment court is made up of a team, which may include:

  • Judge
  • Drug court coordinator
  • Clinical treatment provider
  • Probation officer
  • Prosecutor
  • Public defender
  • School representative

Other young people who are charged with drug possession may be eligible for other juvenile delinquency diversion programs, including community-based alternatives.

Where Can I Find a Juvenile Drug Crime Lawyer?

For many parents, their child’s drug possession case is their first experience with the juvenile justice system. It can be challenging to navigate the criminal court and juvenile justice system for those unfamiliar with the process. An experienced juvenile drug offense attorney can help parents and young people understand the process and offer support.

You can find a juvenile attorney who specializes in drug crime charges through recommendations, your state bar association, or online legal resources like the LawInfo directory. Your criminal defense attorney can help your child avoid criminal charges or negotiate for alternatives to prevent your child from being placed out of their home in a detention center, like outpatient drug court treatment or juvenile drug treatment court.

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