We all make mistakes, and it’s during the early years of our lives where we begin to learn and distinguish between right and wrong. One of the most common infractions made by juvenile offenders involves drugs. This problem is taken very seriously as addiction can quickly take hold and pave a dark path for the rest of the offender’s life. Whether you or someone you know is dealing with NYC underage drug crimes, it’s important to understand the ins and outs of these all too common situations and the legal process that follows in order to help get the offender on a productive and healthful track, and hiring an experienced attorney can help you achieve just that.

Understanding Possession

Even if they aren’t using the drug, any juvenile caught possessing a controlled or illegal substance knowingly or without a prescription can be charged. This can happen in the event that a juvenile is caught with marijuana in their locker, pulled over by law enforcement and being caught with cocaine in the car, and thousands of other possible circumstances. In NYC, there are some common substances that are found in the possession of juvenile offenders including:

  • Heroin
  • Alcohol
  • Vicodin
  • Crystal meth
  • Inhalants
  • OxyContin

 

A Common Defense

In some circumstances, the offender my be caught in possession without knowing the drugs were there. If they suspect, for example, one of their friends left drugs inadvertently in their car, this could prove to be a viable defense as it must be proven that the juvenile was knowingly in possession. However, keep in mind this can be difficult to achieve. The offender must go beyond their claim of not knowing the drugs were there and provide substantial evidence of the fact. In this type of case, it’s good to speak with NYC underage drug crime lawyers. They have experience in how to prove these kinds of cases, and they can help you gather the necessary evidence to have the charges dropped.

Control of the Area

A juvenile doesn’t necessarily have to be found with drugs directly on their person in order to be charged. All the prosecution must prove is that they had control over the environment in which the substance was discovered. This could include their bedroom, vehicle, and any other area in which the juvenile makes their own personal space. With a skilled attorney by your side, a defense can sometimes be built that the accused didn’t possess such control.

Going Beyond Possession

Underage drug crimes come in many forms and aren’t confined to possession. Other charges faced by NYC juveniles on a frequent basis include:

  • Sale of an illegal substance
  • Intent to sell an illegal substance
  • Transport of an illegal substance
  • Cultivation of an illegal substance

It’s worth noting that the offender doesn’t have to be actively using the substance in question. In the war on drugs, any association in the aid of their use by the public is reason enough to charge.

What Happens After a Conviction?

Drug crimes are serious offenses, and even if the offender is underage, there are still serious consequences that follow when convicted. However, their are varying degrees, and you could be facing a number of potential sentences. For example, those caught transporting illegal substances typically face a much more severe punishment. While intended to make the offender learn a lesson from their wrongdoing, the action plan for a juvenile differs from adults convicted of similar crimes. In adult cases, the primary focus is to punish the offender. However, when it comes to juveniles, the courts are more interested in helping them rehabilitate and move on to more productive aspirations. Even if there’s no defense for the crime, a skilled attorney can help the offender receive sentencing that puts their best interest in mind to facilitate a productive future.

Diversion

This option is desirable in that it allows for the offender the chance to avoid many of the intricacies of an underage drug crime case. In order to achieve this, however, they must comply with various court orders. By doing so, they can also avoid having to appear in juvenile court and going through a probationary period. Once the defendant successfully completes all their requirements, the charges are dismissed. A diversion is typically reserved for first-time offenders.

Probation

Probation is another common punishment for juveniles convicted of drug crimes. In this scenario, they will be required to meet various mandates of the court. Just some of these could include:

  • Regular attendance at school
  • Keeping a job or finding one, age permitting
  • Regular attendance in drug counseling
  • Family counseling
  • Completion of a set amount of community service hours

While the time required to complete probation varies depending on the unique nature of the crime, it typically lasts around six months for juvenile offenders. The offender may also be required to meet with a probation officer throughout the course of their probation to check in and provide updates proving their compliance.

Drug Counseling

If it’s suspected that the offender may be at risk of the development of a dependence on drugs, the court may deem it appropriate to require them to attend some form of drug counseling. In many cases, the parents or guardians will also be expected to attend to increase the chances of rehabilitation and prevent future potential crimes and problems.

Detention

In juvenile cases, the court may deem in in the offender’s and the public’s best interest to sentence them to a detention period. This confines the juvenile for a specified period of time to a specific place such as:

  • Their home
  • A foster home
  • A juvenile detention center
  • A juvenile home

Being sentenced to detention is not uncommon. It’s typically reserved for those who have offended in the past or were discovered to be in possession during the arrest for a separate serious crime such as a robbery.

Speaking With NYC Underage Drug Crime Layers is a Good First Step

Drug charges in minors can make a big impact on the rest of their lives, and it’s intended that it be in a positive manner. If you or a loved one is facing charges, it’s in your best interest to seek the help of experienced NYC underage drug crimes lawyers. They understand the court system and can help you achieve the best possible outcome in an unfortunate situation.

If you are claiming innocence, they are able to help you deliver the most effective defense to increase your chances of proving it. However, even if guilt is admitted, they can professionally assist in the persuasion of the court to require a sentence that will best help the you get back on the right track and learn from mistakes made. There is life after an underage drug crime, and the investment in legal counsel is often the best way to ensure future problems don’t arise.