It is becoming increasingly common for high school and college students to face charges of underage possession of alcohol or drugs. Any juvenile younger than 21 can be penalized for possession. An officer can issue a notice to appear in court or can arrest the minor, but either way the individual must answer the accusations. However, neither of these instances necessarily mean that the accused will definitely serve jail time.
A skilled defense attorney may be able to get the charges reduced or dropped altogether. Legal counsel may be the best way to avoid juvenile detention, massive fines, and a criminal record that can interfere with future opportunities. Especially in the case of juveniles, the impact of a conviction on their educational opportunities and future job prospects can have life-long consequences.
If your loved one is facing a charge of possession by a minor, it is imperative to act quickly to defend their future. Education and employment opportunities can be negatively impacted by these charges, and the assistance of experienced criminal defense lawyer Clay Adkinson can be of enormous help in fighting the charges.
Adkinson Law Firm, LLC serves the Florida Panhandle in Defuniak Springs, Pensacola, Milton, Navarre, and surrounding areas. Call us today for a free consultation at .
Many juveniles charged with possession have never been accused of a crime before, and are considered first-time offenders. In these situations, the possession is classified as a second-degree misdemeanor and the potential penalties can include:
However, for those with past offenses, the charges are escalated to a first-degree misdemeanor, and the penalties increase. Offenders may face up to $1,000 in potential fines and / or up to a year in jail.
Under any circumstances, the arresting officer is required to revoke the alleged offender's driving privileges, at least until the criminal case is settled. In the event of a conviction, this suspension can last for months or years, or even until the minor turns 21.
Since the primary goal of the court is to reform the youthful offender and ensure that they understand the risks of consuming alcohol or drugs, penalties are often geared toward education rather than punishment. The sentencing is flexible enough to allow judges to decide on the best course of action for each individual.
The juvenile courts that oversee the sentences are often willing to work with minors in order to reform their behavior without creating a criminal record that can have a negative impact on their futures for years to come. So, as an alternative to criminal sentencing, a juvenile may be able to complete a substance abuse education program. A common option is the Advocate Program, which educates juvenile offenders through lectures, community service, and rehabilitation rather than punishing them through jail time.
Reform programs generally include a stipulation of deferred adjudication. This means that an individual has their charges deferred until the completion of the program, at which time the charges are dropped. If the offender fails to complete the program, however, they are then liable for the original penalties. A juvenile defense attorney can be critical in working to defer a sentence to one of these programs in lieu of jail times and fines.
If the juvenile offender is a university student, that individual may also be subject to disciplinary actions at the school. Even if the alleged offender is not convicted in court, they may still be subject to a disciplinary hearing at school.
The outcome of these hearings can permanently affect the minor's educational future, so it is important to take them seriously. An attorney can also be enlisted for this hearing, and skilled legal counsel can help to keep the alleged offender from being suspended or banned from college.
These proceedings are completely separate from criminal court, but both carry serious consequences.
If any damage was inflicted by the minor in conjunction with the possession of alcohol or drugs, the court may order the parents to pay restitution to the victims. In the event that the minor themselves cannot pay for damages, the parents' paychecks can even be garnished to cover the compensation.
In addition, if anyone over 21 is found to have knowingly contributed to the juvenile possessing or consuming the illegal substance, they can face criminal charges of their own.
If your child is facing criminal charges of juvenile possession of alcohol or drugs, an experienced lawyer can be critical to preserving their future. You should explore all possible defenses that could result in charges being reduced or dismissed.
Clay Adkinson is an experienced DeFuniak Springs criminal defense attorney who can help you take steps to aggressively fight to minimize or dismiss these serious charges. For information about your individual case in the Florida Panhandle, from Bay County to Escambia County, contact Adkinson Law Firm, LLC at or submit an online form to schedule a free consultation.