For many parents in Virginia and throughout the country, seeing young people on the news or in the paper being arrested for drug crimes and other charges can hit close to home. Young people who go to school, maintain good grades, and avoid trouble can still make mistakes or be around the wrong crowd at the wrong time.
It's important for parents as well as young people to be aware of the potential consequences and to appreciate what's at stake after an arrest.
Understanding What's At Stake
One of the most common drug charges with regard to juveniles (a person under the age of 18) is drug possession - often for marijuana. Although laws have relaxed in many states, the fact remains that for minors in Virginia as well as across the country, marijuana possession is still a serious crime.
The courts handle juvenile cases differently from adult criminal cases. The courts have more leeway in handling these cases and often look to treatment options and counseling as opposed to harsher penalties.
Below are a few common consequences for juvenile marijuana possession:
- Drug counseling: The courts often want to help young people rehabilitate through drug counseling and other programs as opposed to spending time in a detention facility.
- Diversion programs: First-time offenders may be eligible for a diversionary program. In short, diversionary programs are similar to probation in that the young person will need to comply with specific obligations. At the end of the term, if all obligations have been met, the charges are essentially dismissed.
- Probation: There may be numerous requirements a young person must follow when on probation, including: attending school, maintaining a job, participating in counseling, performing community service and regularly reporting to a juvenile probation officer.
- Detention: Detention is often a last resort for the juvenile courts. Many people initially think of a juvenile detention facility, but detention may be served under home confinement or in a juvenile home.
Many parents worry about the educational and professional consequences that can accompany an arrest. An attorney can outline options for mitigating the legal consequences and subsequently, limiting the personal and professional repercussions that could impact college admissions and the ability to get a job.
If your son or daughter has been arrested and charged with a crime, it's important to respond quickly. By contacting a lawyer, you will have an advocate in your corner, helping you understand all the options while protecting your child's future.