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Penalties for Drug Possession Charges as a Minor

 
Read Time: 9 Minutes

If you or your child are facing criminal charges for illicit substances, you need the best defense for juvenile drug charges in South Florida. Drug possession charges for minors carry steep consequences if a judge adjudicates you delinquent or convicts you. The consequences may follow you or your child well into adulthood, making it difficult to find employment or get into a good school.

Do not risk your future because of a drug charge. Especially if it is a first offense for misdemeanor possession charge in Florida. An excellent legal defense can help.

Contact criminal defense attorney Matt Shafran at Weinstein Legal today if you are in need of a juvenile criminal defense lawyer. Mr. Shafran will provide you with an entirely free case evaluation. Then, the legal team will get started working to prove you or your child's innocence. 

Can a Minor Hire a Lawyer?

If you are the individual facing drug possession charges for minors, your parent or legal guardian must hire your legal defense team. The exception to this rule is if you are legally emancipated. Otherwise, do not wait to speak with your parents about gaining legal representation. Having the best legal team working on your side may help you avoid serious consequences. 

Hiring a lawyer is a legally binding contract, which you may not sign unless you are 18 years of age or older. Do not wait for the court to appoint a public defense attorney for you. Speak with your legal guardians right away so that you can have the best legal representation in court. 

Misdemeanor vs. Felony Drug Charges

The penalties for underage drug charges in Florida can be steep, even if they are misdemeanors. A first-degree misdemeanor possession charge is the most common drug crime minors receive. It is also known as simple possession. A simple possession charge means that the drugs or illegal substances your child are accused of having were an amount small enough for personal use. 

The only drug in the state of Florida that you can receive this charge for is marijuana. You must have under 20 grams of the drug in your possession at the time of your arrest. Other drugs, such as cocaine, heroin, prescription medication, ecstasy, and MDMA, or methamphetamine will likely result in felony charges, even in small amounts.

Drug Paraphernalia

Many individuals are unaware that they can receive charges for drug paraphernalia even if they are not in possession of drugs at the time of their arrest. If no drugs are present, the charge is likely to be a first-degree misdemeanor. 

Drug paraphernalia includes any object that an individual uses to consume, produce, cook, or process drugs. These objects can include pipes, syringes, scales, plastic baggies, and more. These drug possession charges for minors are just as serious as having actual drugs, and you must hire a lawyer to fight the courts. 

Penalties for Juvenile Drug Charges in the State of Florida

The penalties associated with drug possession charges for minors in the state of Florida can be quite severe. Particularly if they are felony charges. However, even misdemeanors can follow your child around for quite some time.

If the charge is for a first offense misdemeanor possession charge in Florida the case will likely go through juvenile court. A conviction may mean time in a detention center (jail for children), which takes your child out of school for an extended period.

Additionally, consequences may include having to attend a drug treatment program, either inpatient or outpatient. Other consequences include having to complete community service, pay court fines and costs, and more. The courts will likely place your child on probation, where they will have to report to a supervisory officer regularly and submit to random drug tests. If they have a driver's license it may be revoked for a specified amount of time. 

Penalties for Felony Drug Possession Charges

If your child is facing felony drug possession charges in Florida, the penalties are even more serious. Consequences will almost certainly include time in a juvenile detention facility. Additionally, if your child is of a certain age the courts may try them as an adult. 

teen charged with juvenile drug possession in FloridaFines can amount to thousands of dollars and a felony record will follow them well into adulthood. It may become hard for your child to find employment or rent a house or apartment with a felony record. For this reason, it is imperative that you hire an aggressive criminal defense attorney

Additionally, while misdemeanor drug possession charges for minors are not deemed public record, felonies can be looked up by anyone. The Florida courts protect minors with misdemeanor charges and keep their files confidential, but the rule does not apply to those with felony charges. 

Who Is Responsible for Fines and Court Costs?

It is likely that a judge will order your child to pay fines and court costs if they are convicted of either a misdemeanor or felony drug charge. However, your child may not have the money to pay what the judge orders. Many minors do not have full-time employment as they are in school. The courts may agree to work out a payment plan so they can pay little by little over time. However, this will affect how soon the courts will seal their records.

Additionally, your child may have no income at all. This is not uncommon. Unfortunately, as a parent or legal guardian, it is your responsibility to pay the fees. The debt your child accrues in court will fall on you. Since these fines can amount to thousands of dollars, you want to avoid this as best you can. 

You do not want to default on court payments or go into debt paying off your child's fines and fees. To have the best chance at keeping fines as low as possible, you must hire a juvenile defense attorney that can bargain with the prosecutor's office. 

Can Drug Possession Charges for Minors Be Sealed?

One of the most common questions we hear from both parents and minors is regarding whether or not a drug possession charge can be sealed or expunged. When you seal or expunge a criminal record no one can see it in the future. It is essentially erased. It is important to know that you can only expunge one criminal record in a lifetime.

Additionally, a court will not expunge a record automatically until your child reaches the age of 24. If you want to seal or expunge a record before then you must file paperwork and go through a tedious process. An experienced attorney can help you navigate this process correctly.

When your child does turn 24, if they have not had any further legal issues or convictions their file will be automatically expunged. But this is a long time to wait. 

How to Ensure a Record Gets Sealed

As a parent, your main concern is your child's well-being. You most likely want to ensure their record is sealed as quickly as possible. However, in order to do so your child must meet certain criteria.

You can seal a juvenile record in Florida if the offense was non-violent. Most simple possession charges are, unless there are extenuating circumstances and other charges are added to the offense. Your child also must complete their probation sentence and meet all requirements set forth by the court, including paying all fines and court costs. You can then file to have the courts seal the record within six months. 

Defenses for Drug Possession Charges

There are many criminal defense tactics that experienced lawyers such as Matt Shafran may use to help get your child's drug charges reduced or dropped. The courts may be particularly inclined to reduce charges if it is a first offense misdemeanor possession in Florida. However, having the best legal team is essential. 

There are several things that the prosecutor's office must prove in order to substantiate guilt in regard to drug possession. 

Legality

The most important thing that a prosecutor's office must prove is that the substance your child is accused of having is actually illegal. Additionally, they must prove that the substance is prohibited by Florida law. This may involve testing of the substance. 

For example, law enforcement may arrest your child for having a green leafy substance that appears to be marijuana, but they must prove that it actually is. Furthermore, the prosecutor's office must prove that it is illegal for your child to have in their possession. For example, your child may be arrested for having prescription medication. However, if they have are prescribed the drug by their doctor it may not be illegal.

Knowledge

The second thing that a prosecutor's office must prove is that your child knew they had an illegal substance, and knew the substance was illegal. For example, finding drugs in the glove box of a car they borrowed from another relative or friend and did not know was there. If your child did not know there were drugs present the charges may not stick.

Control

The third thing that a prosecutor's office must prove is that your child was the individual in control of the illegal substance. If the substance was on their body, or in their purse or pocket, the case may be easier for the prosecution. However, if the drugs were simply in their vicinity you may have a strong case. 

There are many other elements that an experienced attorney will examine when defending your child in court. It may be possible to prove that another individual was actually in control of the substance, or that they had no knowledge the substance was present at the time of their arrest. 

If the prosecutor's case is not strong enough, they may be willing to reduce the charges or drop them entirely. For this reason, it is essential that you hire a juvenile criminal defense lawyer who will work tirelessly on your child's behalf, collecting all of the evidence that will support their case. 

Hiring an Attorney for Juvenile Drug Possession Charges

If your child is facing a first offense misdemeanor possession charge in West Palm Beach or Fort Lauderdale, Florida, or any other charge, including felony drug charges, contact Weinstein Legal immediately. Every day that goes by is another day that the prosecutor is working on their case to convict your child. Let Weinstein Legal start developing your child's defense today. 

We will look at all of the evidence, look into the possibility of collecting eye witness testimony, and do everything in our power to have your child's charges dismissed. Drug charges can follow your child around for quite some time and a conviction can land them in jail or place you in debt. Do not allow this to happen. 

If your child is facing juvenile drug possession charges, contact Weinstein Legal today and ask for criminal defense attorney Matt Shafran. Call 954-845-0505. Our phones are open 24-hours a day, 365-days a year so no call will ever go unanswered. We serve all of South Florida with Law Offices in Broward and Palm Beach County.

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