Facing Florida Drug Charges As A Minor
Florida takes drug offenses extremely seriously, particularly when minors allegedly commit them. Drug crimes are seen as offenses against society, and when minors are found with drugs, law enforcement must walk the proverbial line between teaching a hard lesson and giving a juvenile defendant a chance to turn their life around. If you or your minor child have been charged with drug crimes, enlisting an attorney to help with your case is crucial.
Minors Can Be Tried As Adults
Florida has some of the harshest drug penalties in the United States, for a variety of reasons (including its past as a drug hotbed in the 1970s and 80s). Even first-time adult offenders can face jail time for possession, sale, or trafficking in drugs – and it is not unheard of for juveniles to be tried as adults, depending on the nature of the specific offense. Being found in possession of even a small amount of most controlled substances (with the exception of marijuana) will almost always result in felony charges.
In addition, it is not uncommon for law enforcement to tack on a charge of possession of drug paraphernalia to a drug possession charge. Florida’s definition of drug paraphernalia is extremely broad and vague, and while sometimes, an actual crime has been committed, sometimes law enforcement will add this charge on top of a possession charge to either scare the defendant or to be able to hold them longer before arraignment. If your child is facing these charges, it may be possible to have them dropped.
Juvenile vs Adult Court
If you or your minor child is charged with drug offenses in Florida, know that the case will either be handled in juvenile court or adult court. Most first-time misdemeanor drug cases will wind up in juvenile court, which does not ‘convict’ minor defendants – rather, they are judged delinquent and will often have to spend time in a juvenile detention center, rather than being convicted and going to jail.
If your child has been in trouble before, or they are facing felony charges, law enforcement is more likely to try them in adult court if they are of a certain age. A minor being charged as an adult will face the same potential sentence as any adult defendant – which can include years in jail and fines in the thousands of dollars. In addition, felony convictions are public record; while many misdemeanor juvenile offenses can eventually be expunged, felony convictions cannot.
Contact A West Palm Beach Drug Offenses Attorney
A minor facing drug charges should take them very seriously – a conviction can effectively derail their entire life. A West Palm Beach drug crimes attorney from Perlet & Shiner, P.A. can help to protect your or your minor child’s rights, and give you the best chance to avoid a lifelong black mark on your record. Call our office today to speak to an attorney.