When you are charged with drug possession as a minor, it can be extremely anxiety-inducing to know that you could be facing criminal penalties that might include jail time.
It is important to recognize that drug possession charges are a bit different depending upon the type of drug that you are accused of having in your possession. In short, if you are caught with illegal drugs in your possession, you can face serious penalties if you are convicted.
For minors, a criminal conviction can be devastating. Not only can a teenager end up doing jail time in the juvenile system, but having a criminal record can change a minor’s ability to find a job, rent an apartment, obtain credit, and even get into a college or university.
We will provide you with some more information about handling drug possession charges for minors.
Understanding the Different Drug Schedules and Charges in North Carolina
Under North Carolina law, it is illegal to possess a controlled substance. There are six different “schedules” of controlled substances or illegal drugs.
Schedule I and Schedule II drugs have been deemed the most dangerous by the North Carolina legislature, and possession of these substances carry stiffer penalties than possession of other prohibited drugs. When a minor is charged with possession of a Schedule I or Schedule II drug, it is typically a felony charge.
Marijuana possession charges are a little bit different than charges for drugs like heroin and cocaine. When minors are charged with possession of marijuana, however, the penalties may not be quite as severe if the minor is a first-time offender.
Depending upon how much marijuana a minor was caught in her possession, she could be facing charges of simple possession. For a first offense, this is typically a misdemeanor charge. However, there is still a significant fine associated with simple possession.
For cases in which a minor is charged with possession of a larger amount of marijuana, it may still be a misdemeanor offense, but minor can face jail time. When charges include selling or trafficking the drug, the penalties are much more severe upon conviction.
In handling possession charges for a minor, we want to ensure that the minor is not convicted of the offense. In the event that a minor already has been convicted, a First Offender program may allow the minor to have the possession charge removed from his or her record.
Working in the North Carolina Juvenile Court System
When a minor who is aged 15 or under is charged with drug possession charges in North Carolina, the case typically will go through the state’s Juvenile Court System. Under North Carolina law, even though a person who is 17 or 18 years old is still a minor when it comes to many federal and state laws, a “juvenile” is defined more narrowly as someone who is under the age of 16.
For a juvenile who is facing drug possession charges, a diversion program can help to keep the minor’s criminal record clean and can move the case out of the state court system.
Contact a Raleigh Drug Possession Defense Lawyer
If your child has been charged with drug possession, it is important to get in touch with a Raleigh drug possession defense lawyer as soon as possible. Contact Tarlton & Polk for more information about how we can assist you with your defense.