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Juvenile Drug Possession Penalties
Many juveniles in California enter the criminal justice system due to drug possession. As you may imagine, these drugs include illicit substances like meth, heroin and cocaine. However, juveniles can also get arrested for possessing potentially dangerous controlled medications such as OxyContin, Vicodin and Xanax, which are illegal to use or distribute without a doctor’s prescription.
Whether a teen gets caught using drugs or selling them to others, the ramifications could be far-reaching. Learn more about the juvenile justice system and the consequences of juvenile drug possession in California.
Understanding the California Juvenile Process
Juvenile law is a unique branch of our state’s justice system that focuses on rehabilitation instead of punishment. In California, minors between the ages of 12 and 18 typically do not get charged with offenses that would constitute crimes if an adult committed them. Instead, the system usually considers juvenile drug possession a delinquency.
The juvenile justice process starts with an arrest. If the arresting officers deem the offense is minor, they may decide to let the child go with a warning. However, law enforcement might opt to take minors into custody, in which case they will likely go to juvenile hall. It is also possible to put young offenders on probation.
What Happens in a Juvenile Delinquency Case?
A juvenile delinquency case may involve one or more court hearings. At each step in the process, minors have the right to an attorney, as decided in the landmark Supreme Court case called in re Gault. Parents and guardians also have the right to be present at their child’s court hearings.
The possible outcomes of juvenile drug possession may include:
- Being put on probation, which might require young offenders to attend school, observe a curfew or complete community service or substance abuse treatment
- Deferred judgment, in which the juvenile admits to the charge but is eligible to have it dismissed after completing the program
- Commitment to a foster home, group home or probation camp
- Placement in a juvenile detention facility for specific offenses, including some regarding drug manufacturing and sales
Though we firmly believe it is harmful to try juvenile offenders as adults, a judge may decide to do so if they determine the case is severe enough and the minor has a history of delinquency. Fortunately, a knowledgeable juvenile attorney can successfully argue to keep all the proceedings within the juvenile justice system.
Do You Need an Orange County Juvenile Defense Attorney?
Navigating the juvenile justice system can be stressful and overwhelming enough for adults, and even more so for adolescents who are too young to fully appreciate and process the consequences of their actions. That’s why it’s essential to find experienced legal representation to help you and your family.
As a former prosecutor and district attorney, Katie Walsh has overseen thousands of juvenile cases. She will look out for your family’s best interests and work toward an outcome that will put your child back on a healthy path, while preserving their future. If your child faces drug possession penalties or any other juvenile offense, schedule your complimentary consultation today.