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Minor in Possession of Drugs
Criminal charges for drug possession according to California and federal law carry serious consequences, and long-term ramifications. It is illegal for people under age twenty-one to possess illegal substances, including marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, and heroin. Minor in possession of drugs charges can derail a young person’s life, and lead to ongoing substance and mental health issues. The Riverside drug crime attorneys at The Law Office of Gregory H.Comings are here to help parents and juveniles secure the best possible outcome when facing criminal investigation or charges. Client cases are approached with compassion, and we appreciate the sensitive nature of criminal charges and their impact upon a child.
As a crime, drug possession can be divided into three categories, including constructive, actual, and joint possession. Actual possession includes physical control of the substance. Joint possession addresses the amount of substance present, and can be enforced when there is enough substance for two or more people. Constructive possession means that the police found the drug in a place that you control or have access to, such as your bedroom or the glove box of your car.
To be charged with juvenile drug possession, the youth must knowingly and without legal justification possess a controlled or illegal substance. Possessing prescription drugs without a proper prescription can lead to criminal charges of minor in possession of drugs. While some minors may believe marijuana is legal, California has not legalized possession of marijuana for those under 21. A conviction for possession of marijuana may result in penalties, and the juvenile can also lose their driving privileges.
To meet the “knowingly” element of drug possession, the prosecution is required to show that the juvenile knew the drugs were in their possession or control. Additionally, the juvenile must have control over the drugs. Common examples of areas in which the courts have found that juveniles have control include their backpack, glove compartment of their car, and school locker.
The juvenile criminal justice system differs from the adult criminal justice system. The focus of juvenile courts is on rehabilitating young people. Some juveniles may be required to attend drug counseling. A minor offense may lead to a juvenile receiving a warning, however, if the juvenile is taken into custody, they may be detained.
Juveniles held to be delinquent may face probation, including maintaining a curfew, or completing a substance abuse treatment program. Deferred entry of judgment may be an option; juveniles may admit to the charge, but have the charge dismissed upon completion of the program. Certain offenses may require commitment to a juvenile detention facility. Often, detention is reserved for repeat offenders, or where other factors are present such as the commission of a violent crime.
Certain juvenile drug offenses may lead to the juvenile being charged and tried as an adult. In this case, the juvenile can face penalties such as incarceration in an adult jail.
Like adults, juveniles facing drug charges maintain constitutional rights, including the right to protection from unlawful search and seizure. A valid legal defense may include suppression of evidence if that evidence was obtained illegally. A common example includes an illegal traffic stop leading to the officer finding drugs. The juvenile may be able to suppress the evidence on the grounds that the traffic stop. was illegal. If a motion to suppress evidence is successful, the case may be dismissed, particularly if the prosecution does not have other legally obtained evidence. Exposing weaknesses in the prosecution’s case may also involve uncovering police misconduct or other violations.
For minors facing possession of drug charges, the prosecution must successfully prove all elements of the crime. If the juvenile did not confess that they knew the substance was in their control, the “knowingly” element will have to be proven. However, attempting to hide or destroy the drugs may support an inference that the drugs were known to be in their possession. A skilled lawyer will examine the circumstances surrounding the case and set forth the strongest legal defenses possible.
At The Law Office of Gregory H.Comings, we explore all circumstances surrounding a minor’s arrest and drug charges. In addition to fighting to lessen or reduce charges, we can work to provide treatment or counseling for your juvenile. Attorney Comings diligently protects the rights of clients throughout Riverside, as well as the areas of Moreno Valley, Indio, Highland, Fontana, Redlands, and Rancho Cucamonga. To contact our office, call (951) 686-3457 or reach us online.