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Perlet & Shiner, P.A. West Palm Beach Criminal Lawyer
  • WEST PALM BEACH CRIMINAL DEFENSE

Minors Charged With Drug Offenses

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The National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics (NCDAS) estimates that Florida’s young people are about 5 percent less likely to have used drugs recently than teenagers in other states. However, far too many still indulge, and face legal consequences for it. If your child has been charged with a drug crime, it can feel as though the world is ending for both of you – but with the help of a knowledgeable attorney, your family can make it through.

Serious No Matter What

Minors generally do not go through the same process as adults when they are charged with drug offenses. Depending on factors like their age, the type of drug, and the amount they were stopped with, a minor may have their case heard in juvenile court, or they may be tried as an adult. In juvenile court, minors are not found guilty; rather, they are ‘judged delinquent,’ and if the charge is a misdemeanor, their juvenile record will be expunged or sealed upon their reaching the age of 24. Adult court will play out for a minor in exactly the same manner as it would for an adult charged with the same thing.

Even if your child’s case winds up in juvenile court, however, it is crucial to take the charges seriously. In some cases, a delinquent finding can lead to time spent in a juvenile detention facility, as well as having to potentially perform community service, attend drug treatment programs, and contend with restrictions like the loss of a driver’s license or learner’s permit. Perhaps most seriously, since juvenile records are not sealed automatically until age 24 and many are unaware of the requirement to affirmatively file to seal them before that period, a delinquent finding can affect college applications negatively.

What Do We Do?

If your child has been charged with a drug offense, enlisting an attorney is an important first step. A first offense will almost certainly wind up in juvenile court, and in this kind of situation, it is also sometimes possible for your child to avoid a conviction by agreeing to what is known as a pretrial diversion program. Juvenile drug programs are an alternative for many nonviolent first offenders in Florida; essentially, if your child completes the terms of the program, the charges are essentially dropped.

That said, depending on the specifics of your child’s situation, it may be possible to try and fight the charges. A prosecutor must establish three things in order to judge your child delinquent (or convict them, in adult court) – knowledge of illegality, knowledge that they had the substance in their possession, and control over the substance. If even one of these cannot be established, your child cannot be found delinquent.

Contact A West Palm Beach Drug Charges Attorney

A drug charge can adversely affect your child’s life going forward, but they do not have to deal with the consequences alone. The West Palm Beach drug crimes attorneys from the firm of Perlet, Shiner, Melchiorre & Walsh, P.A. have experience in these types of cases, and are ready and willing to try and help your family in what can be a frightening time. Call our offices to speak to an attorney.

Resources:

leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0800-0899/0893/Sections/0893.13.html

leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0300-0399/0322/Sections/0322.056.html

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