Drugs, Kids, and Juvenile Justice in Texas
Drug possession is one of the most common criminal charges that a Collin County teenager will face in Texas. In many cases, a teenager may run afoul of the law without realizing it. Even parents may not be fully aware of how the law applies to their children or the potential consequences if an arrest leads to a criminal conviction.
Possession Does Not Mean Ownership
Texas law makes it crime for anyone to possess controlled substances such as marijuana. “Possession,” as defined by law, means “actual care, custody, control, or management” of the controlled substance. It does not necessarily mean ownership. For example, if your teenage child has a friend who asks her to “hold onto” some marijuana for a little while, and the police catch her with the drugs, she can be charged with criminal possession even if it was not technically “her” marijuana. As far as the law is concerned, nobody can legally own an illegal drug, therefore law enforcement is only concerned with possession.
There may also be cases where your child is unknowingly in the presence of illegal drugs but may still be charged with possession. Let’s say your teenage son is riding in his friend’s car. The friend is keeping cocaine in his car’s glove compartment. If the police lawfully stop the car and search it for drugs, they will find the drugs in closest proximity to your child. The police may then assume your child was in possession and arrest him.
Also, keep in mind, a “controlled substance” is not limited to illegal narcotics like marijuana and cocaine. A prescription drug is also a controlled substance. Many teenagers illegally sell used prescription drugs in an attempt to make some easy money. If your child takes your prescription drugs and tries to resell them, he or she may face serious criminal charges.
A McKinney Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
If your child (under the age 17) is arrested and charged with drug possession in Collin County, he or she will be subject to the Texas juvenile justice process. The Texas juvenile justice system focuses on rehabilitation rather than punishment, so in many cases a first-time drug offense will not result in detention. Typically, a juvenile court will order your child (and likely you as well) to attend mandatory drug counseling. A juvenile court may also impose a term of probation for a term that generally lasts six months. In some cases, a first-time child offender may be eligible for deferred prosecution (DPRO) which is a type of informal probation that can lead to a dismissal of charges. Juvenile DPRO should not be confused with Deferred Adjudication for adults.
Even though the Texas juvenile justice system is less punitive than the adult courts, that does not mean you and your child should face a judge alone. A Collin County federal drug lawyer can help you deal with the juvenile justice system and help ensure that your child is treated fairly. Contact the Frisco, Texas drug crimes attorneys at Rosenthal Barbieri, if you would like to speak with an attorney today.