What happens when a minor gets a drug charge conviction?

On Behalf of | Feb 29, 2024 | Drug Charges

Drug possession charges and convictions can be traumatic for any person. However, when the accused is a minor, the situation can be uniquely complicated for both the underaged individual and their family.  

Although juveniles generally go through a different criminal justice process and may get lesser sanctions, drug possession charges for minors can still take a tremendous toll on a young person’s life today and in the future.  

Misdemeanor vs. felony drug charges

The severity of the punishment depends on which category it falls under misdemeanor or felony. Factors that can increase or decrease the charges and penalties include the type of drug, the quantity of the drugs, and where the minor was at the time of the alleged offense.  

For instance, in Florida, if a minor has less than 20 grams of marijuana, it can result in a first-degree misdemeanor charge. If convicted, they can face the maximum penalty of up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. The penalties can increase if the offense occurs at a school.  

Meanwhile, possession of drugs (even in lesser amounts) such as cocaine, heroin, ecstasy or methamphetamine may result in felony charges. Cocaine possession, for example, is a third-degree felony and offenders can face up to five years imprisonment plus a $5,000 fine.  

How can a conviction affect a minor’s future?

Having a drug charge conviction can impact a minor’s future in many ways:  

  • They can have a stain on their criminal record. If a young person is a repeat offender, they risk losing eligibility for juvenile drug court, and could wind up in adult court where the consequences are much harsher. 
  • They can lose valuable scholarships and academic opportunities. 
  • They may be suspended from or kicked off teams. 
  • They may lose their driver’s license. 
  • The courts may order probation or community service. 

These and other penalties can be upsetting, embarrassing and costly. Thus, minimizing a young person’s exposure to them by defending against the charges will be crucial. 

Parents or guardians navigating the complexities of the law in cases like this can consult a legal professional to discuss strategies to avoid severe punishments that can influence the entire course of a young person’s life.