Possession of controlled substances by anyone is illegal, but the age of the defendant makes a significant difference in how these cases are handled in the courts. An Omaha DUI lawyer outlines what a juvenile offender should expect.
What Constitutes Possession
Under both federal and state law, possession of illegal substances means having willful ownership or direct control over those substances. Certain prescription medications such as opium-derived painkillers found in the possession of someone other than the patient for whom they were prescribed also fall under this category, and the possessor can be charged accordingly. Drugs found in an automobile, house or apartment, dormitory room, school locker, gym bag or any other place over which an individual exerts ownership or control are considered to be in possession of that person. When the individual has not yet reached the age of 18, the laws concerning juvenile drug possession come into force.
The penalties incurred by juvenile drug offenders, while unlike those faced by their adult counterparts, are not to be taken lightly and can include the following:
• Assignment to a drug rehabilitation and counseling program;
• Probation with specific requirements such as finding employment or going to school depending on the child’s age;
• Informal probation, also referred to as pretrial diversion, which ultimately results in dismissal of charges if the juvenile finishes the program successfully. This is not always an option, and is not normally granted to repeat offenders.
Don’t Ruin Your Life
If you are a juvenile or the parents of a juvenile who is facing drug possession charges, you should seek legal counsel immediately.