Teens and Drug Possession: What to Do if Your Child Gets Arrested

Posted on Mar 31, 2020 in Criminal Defense, Drugs, Juvenile Justice

Drug use is not just a problem for adults; it is increasingly becoming more widespread among teenagers as well. And it’s not merely casual use — a teenager in Monroe, for example, was recently charged with 12 drug-related offenses after several pounds of pills and drugs were found in his possession, including Xanax, ecstasy, cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine. 

Teenage drug use raises an interesting question for parents: What should you do if your teenager is arrested for drug possession? A New Orleans criminal defense attorney explains below. 

The Juvenile Drug Court Process

The criminal justice process works differently for minors than it does for adults. In Louisiana, the juvenile justice system progresses more or less as follows: 

  1. Delinquent act: A “delinquent act” is an act committed by a child 10 years of age or older that, if committed by an adult, would be a criminal offense under Louisiana or federal law. This includes drug possession, use, and distribution. 
  2. Subpoena: The court issues a subpoena directing the juvenile offender to appear in court.
  3. Custody hearing: If the juvenile offender is held in custody after he or she is arrested, he or she must be brought before the court within 72 to determine whether there is probable cause to justify continuing to hold the youth or set bail.
  4. Petition and answer: After the arrest, the police officer submits the arrest report to the district attorney, who will then decide whether to proceed with the case or dismiss it. At this point, the case may be referred to a pre-trial diversion program or the youth may be placed on an Informal Adjustment Agreement
  5. Adjudication: At the adjudication hearing, the judge hears testimony and decides whether the youth should be “adjudicated” (i.e., convicted).
  6. Disposition: A “disposition” is similar to a sentence in that the court will issue a recommendation as to the proper course of action (i.e., warning, probation, custody, secure care placement, etc.). 

What to Do if Your Child is Arrested 

If your child is arrested for drug possession, your first course of action should be to contact a criminal defense attorney who has experience representing clients in the juvenile justice system. 

The most desirable outcome for juveniles faced with drug possession charges are pre-trial diversion programs. Under these programs, the district attorney agrees to put the case on hold for a period of time (typically a year). If your child has remained trouble-free during that time, the district attorney will move to dismiss the charges. 

To increase your child’s chances of entering a pre-trial diversion program, it may be advantageous to enroll your child in a rehabilitation program or drug education program and submit documented proof of his or her completion of the course to the district attorney. And regardless of how the process plays out, you should consider pursuing expungement

Contact a New Orleans Criminal Defense Attorney

For more information about the juvenile justice system and drug charges against teenagers, please contact a New Orleans criminal defense attorney at Bloom Legal by using our online form or calling us at 504-599-9997.

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