At the Law Offices of Daniel R. Perlman, we represent people facing serious drug charges and drug-related offenses under both California and federal law, including juvenile or student drug offenses. Being accused of a drug offense when you are a teen can have long lasting repercussions. Below we examine why teens are drawn to drug use. We also review what the potential repercussions are if your teen in convicted of possession.
Teens and Drug Use
We know that drug use us harmful to not only your physical but emotional health and happiness. Friends and family members can be greatly affected as well. Therefore, it’s crucial that if your teen has turned to drug use that you do all you can to get them help before it turns into a legal issue.
Why Teens Do Drugs
There is no one reason that teens do drugs. In most cases, it is a variety of reasons. As a parent, it’s important to understand the compulsion that drives teen drug use.
Every teen wants to feel accepted. And sometimes, this need for acceptance overrides the values and commitments a parent has tried so hard to instill in their child. The age-old manta of “Just say no” can feel downright lame to a teen that is being offered a joint from his best friend or his crush.
According to a 2011 study, 47% of teens agreed movies and TV shows make drugs seem like an OK thing to do. According to the same study, 12- to 17-year-olds who viewed three or more “R” rated movies per month were six times more likely to use marijuana compared to those who hadn’t watched “R” rated films.
The media often portrays drug use as something that fun-loving, attractive, and sexy people do. These are all traits that every teen is attempting to become. Additionally, if the “cool kids” are doing drugs, a teen will feel pressured simply because of the idea of being perceived as “cool.”
Escape and Self-Medication
Being a teen is hard. Having to deal with changing emotions and hormones can feel completely confusing. Coupled with depression, anxiety, and boredom, these emotions can become overwhelming, thus forcing a teen to want a “break” from it all. There’s no doubt that drugs help to ease these feelings. Truth be told, kids wouldn’t turn to drugs if they didn’t help them escape these feelings though making a teen feel blissfully oblivious, happy, or energized and confident.
Remember being a teen? You probably didn’t want to have anything to do with your parents. Or maybe you just wanted to rebel a little. Drugs are the perfect way to rebel against parents. And for kids that already have a disposition towards aggression or violent behavior, drugs can have a compounding effect. For example, methamphetamine (meth) encourages aggressive and violent behavior and LSD is known as an escape drug that can allow a teen to escape to a more idealistic, kind world.
Every teen has been told time and time again by parents and teachers that drug use is bad for them. But still, every teen also has a friend that “has a friend” that’s an expert on drug use. When it comes to listening to their teachers or parents, or listening to their peers, chances are the teen is going to go by what their peers say. So if there’s an “expert on drugs” in the group, then of course, drugs can’t be that bad.
Drugs are more commonly available than they ever were. As we know from the rise in prescription pill addictions, the next hit can be as close as a medicine cabinet. Teens are resourceful, and if they want something, they’re going to get it.
Addressing Drug Use with Your Teen
Talking to your teen about the repercussions (legal, health, etc) can be the best way to prevent drug use. This doesn’t mean lecturing them. Rather, you need to be open and direct about drug use and what it can do to a life. You want to foster an open line of communication with them so that your teen will be able to turn to you with questions or potential concerns. An open line of communication can be the first line of defense when it comes to handling potential addiction, or crime related to drugs.
It can help to discuss the legal ramifications of drug use. Below we outline what those ramifications are.
State and federal laws regulate the use and possession of controlled substances.
Juvenile drug possession: when a person under the age of18 knowingly controls a regulated drug or substance without a legal reason. This is considered a crime in all states and can lead to penalties for juveniles. Typically, these cases are handled in the juvenile court system, which can differ tremendously from the standard court system for adults.
To be convicted of drug possession, a juvenile must knowingly possess or control the illegal substance. Saying “I wasn’t aware of it” will not clear a juvenile of a conviction. Judges can use circumstantial evidence for a conviction. For example: if the drugs are in a teen’s backpack, there is enough circumstantial evidence to prove that the teen knew the drugs were there.
A conviction can be made by just showing that a juvenile was in control of the area where the drugs were found. For example, if drugs are found in the glove compartment of the car the teen was driving, they can be charged with a crime. This goes for drugs found in rooms, school lockers, gym bags, etc.
Penalties (Heading 3)
When a juvenile is charged with a drug possession violation there are some potentially serious consequences. Yet, juvenile courts have a much wider range of options when it comes to processing a juvenile offender than they do with adult offenders. Here are some penalties a juvenile can face:
- Drug counseling. Juvenile courts usually want to rehabilitate young people which can often mean a court ordering an offender to attend drug counseling.
- Probation. When a juvenile court orders probationthat means a juvenile must comply with specific terms. Often this means a child must attend school regularly, maintain or find a job, participate in drug counseling, perform community service, or any other requirements that a court deems fit. A court may also order the juvenile to report to a juvenile probation officer or court officer on a regular basis. These required meetings usually last for a duration of six months, but can be prolonged.
- Diversion (Also known aspretrial diversion or informal probation) Diversion means a juvenile offender must comply with specific court rules but does not have to go before juvenile court for a formal hearing. If a juvenile successfully completes a diversion program, the charges are essentially dismissed. This option is not available in all jurisdictions, and is usually only available for first-time offenders.
- Detention. While this is rare, a court can order a juvenile into detention for drug possession. Detention means home confinement, placement with a foster family or guardian, placement with a juvenile home, or placement in a juvenile detention center. This usually only happens if the offender is a repeat offender or if other factors contributed to the possession, such as robbery or violent crime.
Working with an Attorney
Being charged with drug possession as a juvenile comes with significant consequences and potential harsh penalties. A conviction can impact future educational options, military entrance options, or the inability to participate in school sports or activities.
This is why it’s crucial that you speak with a criminal defense attorney if your child is charged with a juvenile drug possession crime. They will be able to determine if the police acted properly during their search or confiscation of the drugs and also determine if that search and seizure was legally performed. An experienced defense attorney will have experience with dealing with the local juvenile justice system. They will most likely be familiar with the juvenile prosecutors and judges, and will be able to protect your rights at every step in the juvenile justice process.
Working with the Law Offices of Daniel R. Perlman
Depending on the facts of your case, you can benefit from our familiarity with the community treatment and diversion programs that can protect you from criminal consequences, as well as from our experience with the presentation of strong defenses at trial.
Any drug charge is a serious accusation that could result in prison time, other serious penalties, and a criminal record that will follow you for the rest of your life. The good news is that there is a defense to every charge. Contact our office in Los Angeles at 562-287-5333, at 562-287-5333 or by e-mail to discuss your case with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney. – Drug Crimes Lawyers Los Angeles