From a certain point of view, drug possession is an odd crime. It doesn’t accuse someone of selling, manufacturing, or distributing drugs. Instead, it punishes them for simply having it.
A crime like this is particularly hard on a minor. Kids can easily fall into the wrong crowd. An otherwise law-abiding minor can easily be surrounded by others who are up to no good, and they get accused of participating in the same illegal activity.
Here is a broad overview of juvenile drug possession laws in Virginia along with some defenses if your child is accused.
Virginia’s Penalties for Drug Possession by a Minor
It is unlikely for the state to incarcerate a minor over drug possession charges. Typically, they will face fines of up to $500. They may be forced to serve probation, and they will probably perform community service.
If the court believes the minor has an addiction problem, it could order them to attend rehab or take drug education courses.
The good news is this: Juvenile justice is generally focused on rehabilitation. The law wants to keep “troubled” kids from continuing their behavior, and it tries to help them reintegrate into society. To that end, it tries to work with kids to reeducate them. Virginia has even passed laws that keep non-violent minor offenders from being tried as adults.
Defenses Against Juvenile Drug Possession
Even the penalties above can affect a child. It can slow down their schooling, and it can harm their reputations. Once a child is branded as a “bad kid,” they can accept that label and continue along a destructive path.
Regardless of whether the penalties are mild or severe, your child deserves a defense against any criminal allegation. Even as children, they have this right as Americans. They have a right to an attorney, too.
Here are some defenses you can discuss with your lawyer.
Lack of Knowledge
Kids constantly borrow things from one another, from a jacket to a car. It’s easy for a minor to have someone else’s property, and within that property, there is a controlled substance. This situation applies even if that item in question is another child’s legal, prescription drug. If your child was unaware that they were even carrying drugs, they should not be punished.
Lack of Possession
A minor doesn’t necessarily own a drug just because they are near a drug. Imagine the police break up a party, and there are illicit drugs in the middle of the room. They could essentially accuse anyone of possession, even if that kid just walked in the door. Your child should not be accused of owning something that didn’t belong to them in the first place.
Kids who regularly break the law aren’t much different from adults who do the same. They often use innocent people to carry out their wishes. If your child was bullied into carrying drugs, you can explain to the court that they were operating under duress.
Improper Police Procedure
It’s easy for the police to bully and intimidate people, especially children. Make sure your child tells your attorney every detail of their interactions with the authorities. If your lawyer finds evidence of intimidation, improper searching, forced confessions, entrapment, and so on, the case could be thrown out in court.
The Law Offices of Daniel J. Miller cares about helping kids stay out of the justice system. If your child has been accused of a crime, reach out to us today for help. You can call us at (757) 267-4949 or contact us online.