Twenty Percent of Teens
For a responsible parent, receiving that phone call that your child has been arrested in school for drugs can be devastating. Instead of questioning your ability as a good parent, you should know that you are not alone:
Recent statistics suggest that 20% of high school teens have bought drugs, sold them, or have been offered to take them on school property.
Therefore, teens end up in the California juvenile justice system for drugs often.
A drug offense is a serious charge that can have severe repercussions in a teenager’s life. If a minor is charged with delinquency, it can become overwhelming for both the defendant and the parent.
Knowing How to Handle It
Knowing how to handle such a situation is crucial as it can determine the best outcome. Here is what you can do:
- First Find Out What Happened: As a parent, you should immediately get all the details of what happened from a teacher or an administrator. Listen and ask questions to get the complete picture of what happened, and tread lightly as it is a criminal offense. It is essential as a parent you do not get defensive or start pointing fingers at whose fault it is.
- Talk to Your Child: Be calm and allow them to tell their version of the story. Listen and discover the root of the problem at hand. As a parent, you should dig deeper because there might be an underlying problem. Calmly explain the gravity of the situation to the teen so they can know the consequences of their choices.
Legal Steps That You Should Take
Most states and local school districts have their laws when it comes to drugs. As a parent, you should know that the legal consequences of a drug offense should be handled immediately.
Contacting an attorney as early as possible will help you protect your child’s rights.
Make sure to utilize the first-time offender options. An attorney will help guide you on these laws because most states have that option. The court process is somewhat different because juveniles arrested for offenses are tried for “delinquency” rather than the crime itself. If the case is filed in a juvenile court, they may be detained in juvenile hall.
A series of hearings for the delinquency case will follow, and the parents have a right to attend them. Several outcomes might follow, including;
- Probation. It might require the child to attend school still, do community service, complete a substance abuse program or maintain a curfew.
- The juvenile might admit to the charge, meaning that the charge will be dismissed upon completion of the program.
- The child might be placed in foster care or a probation camp.
- The child serves some time in a juvenile detention facility.
The most common juvenile drug offenses are drug possession and drug trafficking.
It is legal to use marijuana in California for persons over 21 years, but not for teens. However, it is 100% illegal to possess the following drugs: LSD, PCP, meth, heroin, crack cocaine, and ecstasy.
Cartels often recruit teenagers to distribute drugs or use them as couriers. If arrested for transporting, selling, giving controlled substances to other people, or even administering, a teenager can face serious consequences.
Juvenile drug offenses are mostly tried in California juvenile courts; however, under some circumstances, it is possible for a juvenile to be tried as an adult. This means that they can face penalties and face incarceration in an adult prison.
A student arrested for drugs in school will mostly face suspension or be expelled from the school. Each school has its disciplinary policies that govern such issues, and as a parent, you should get a written copy of the corrective measure the school chooses. Making a plan for the child to return to school is also essential to ensure they don’t lag in school work.
Regardless of what got your child into drugs, ensure that they get proper help, whether in counseling or rehabilitation programs. Getting caught with drugs in school is a wake-up call for parents that leads to discovering a need that is not being met. It can be an emotional, behavioral, or chemical dependency, and thus armed with this information, and it is clearer which method of support and intervention to take.
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Seppi Esfandi is an Expert Attorney who has over 21 years of practice defending a variety of cases.