Juvenile Drug Crimes Lawyer
Chester County Juvenile Drug Crimes
When your child is arrested and charged with a drug related offense, it can be an emotionally devastating process for you and your child. If convicted of the crime, your child may have a permanent mark on his or her record, which could severely limit his or her future educational and occupational options. In order to give your child the best chance at maintaining a clean record, contact a West Chester juvenile crimes defense lawyer.
There are many drugs and medications which are controlled and regulated under state and federal laws. Any person possessing a controlled substance with no legally recognized reason may be charged with drug possession. Under Pennsylvania law, when a person under the age of 18 knowingly possesses a regulated drug or illegal substance, the minor can be charged with a drug crime and penalties can result in the event of a conviction. Any parent who has ever gotten the phone call saying their child has been arrested and charged with a drug crime knows just how emotionally devastating it can be.
Even if your child does not fully recognize the long-range repercussions of a drug crime conviction, as an adult, you certainly do. You are likely fully aware that a conviction for a Pennsylvania drug crime can leave a permanent mark on your child’s record, severely limiting his or her future educational and employment opportunities. To ensure your child has the very best chance at a positive outcome following a drug-related arrest, speak to a Chester County attorney as soon as possible following the arrest.
Potential Charges for Juvenile Drug Crimes
Like adults in the state, there is a wide range of potential drug charges your child may have been charged with. Some of those include:
- Possession of illegal drugs. Your child may have been charged with possession of a controlled substances such as methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana, LSD, opium, ecstasy or other drugs.
- Illegal possession of a prescription drug. When drugs such as Vicodin, Xanax, Valium, Adderall, etc., are found in the possession of a juvenile, and the juvenile has no valid prescription for the drugs, he or she may be charged with illegal possession of a prescription drug.
- Possession with intent to sell. The presence of such items as containers, scales or bags are just a few of the factors used by law enforcement to determine whether the juvenile intended to sell the drugs in his or her possession.
- Possession of drug paraphernalia. Possession of any object used for (or intended to be used for) preparing drugs, packaging drugs, producing drugs, planting drugs, injecting drugs or inhaling drugs is illegal under Pennsylvania law.
Juvenile Drug Crimes Lawyer in West Chester PA
According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, of the total 809,700 juvenile criminal arrests made in the United States in 2017, 94,830 of those were for drug-related offenses. In the state of Pennsylvania, drug charges were by far the most common serious criminal charge for juveniles; according to the 2015 Pennsylvania Juvenile Court Dispositions, there were 4,481 juvenile drug charges in 2015, although only 1,740 of those charges were able to be substantiated in court. Both the alleged number of juvenile drug charges as well as the substantiated number of juvenile drug charges in the state of Pennsylvania dropped by 7.6 percent and 7.2 percent, respectively from 2014 to 2015. The 2015 report also found that nearly three-quarters of all serious criminal juvenile offenses were committed by males, including drug offenses.
Can a Juvenile Be Charged as an Adult for a Drug Offense?
The Sentencing Project notes that as of 2016, all but four states (Connecticut, Kansas, Massachusetts and New Mexico) allowed juveniles to be charged and tried as adults for drug charges. Many believe the ability of states to send juveniles into the adult justice system for non-violent drug offenses can threaten the future of these juveniles—particularly since research has shown time and time again that there is a vastly increased rate of recidivism for juveniles placed in the adult system. In the state of Pennsylvania, when a juvenile is at least 14 years of age and is accused of a felony offense, the juvenile court may transfer the case to the adult court system if it finds the public interest would be better protected by doing so.
This transfer is done via a discretionary waiver (42 Pa. C. S. Sec. 6355). The state of Pennsylvania must provide evidence showing the public interest would be better protected and that the child shows no willingness for rehabilitation, supervision or treatment. It is not particularly common for juveniles to be charged as adults for drug offenses, but it can and does happen, especially for a repeat drug offense or for possession of a very large amount of drugs. Because of the potential for a juvenile to be charged as an adult, it is extremely important that parents or guardians speak to a knowledgeable Pennsylvania juvenile attorney as quickly as possible following the drug charges.
Chester County Attorney for Juvenile Drug Charges
If your loved one has been charged with a juvenile drug crime in Newton Square, Exton, Norristown, Downingtown, Coatesville, Lancaster, Media, Villanova, Willow Street, or Southeastern Pennsylvania, contact Ciccarelli Law Offices. Our team of skilled defense attorneys at the firm are knowledgeable in all laws regarding drug offenses and will work hard to ensure that your child’s constitutional rights are protected throughout the legal process.
When you hire the attorneys from Ciccarelli Law Offices you will have a team of attorney assigned to your case that will work on crafting you a thorough defense from start to finish. We have meeting locations in Lancaster, Philadelphia, West Chester, Plymouth Meeting, Kennett Square, Springfield, Radnor, and Malvern, which allows us to serve clients throughout the greater Philadelphia region. Call us today at (610) 692-8700.
In some instances, a juvenile could be charged as an adult, depending on the circumstances surrounding the drug crime. This should be avoided at all costs, and your Chester County juvenile drug crime defense attorney will work hard to ensure your child is charged as a juvenile, therefore will face juvenile penalties if convicted. Depending on the facts of your child’s drug crime charges, he or she may even be offered deferred adjudication by the District Attorney.
Deferred adjudication could require your child to remain under house arrest, attend drug counseling or enter a drug abuse program, have his or her driver’s license suspended, undergo periodic drug testing, and be sentenced to a specific amount of community service. If your child is offered deferred adjudication, and successfully completes all the requirements, then the original charges will be dropped. If, on the other hand, the child fails to complete the requirements associated with deferred adjudication, he or she could be prosecuted for the original offense.
What Happens After the Arrest?
If your child is arrested, you must be notified. You may have no idea what will happen next, which is a primary reason to have a Philadelphia juvenile drug crimes attorney by your side from start to finish. While every case is different, below is the basic sequence of events following your child’s arrest:
- Whether your child will be released to your custody or detained in a secure detention center until his or her Court date depends on whether this is his or her first arrest, the exact charges, and the risk to the safety of your child, property or others.
- Some Pennsylvania counties have “First Offender” or “Diversion Programs,” which are meant to screen out juveniles who have committed very minor offenses. (These programs may not apply for drug crimes). If your child is allowed to enter such a program, the case will close upon completion of the program.
- If your child is detained in a juvenile detention facility or other placement facility, he or she will go before a judge for a Detention Hearing within 72 hours. Call a Pennsylvania juvenile drug crime attorney immediately, then try to see your child.
- If your child is charged as an adult, he or she may be detained in county jail; if this should happen, don’t panic. Talk to your Chester County attorney about having the case transferred to the juvenile justice system.
- If your child is referred to juvenile Court, a process called “Intake” will begin. This means a juvenile probation officer will be conducting interviews with your child and you. An assessment may be involved (a series of questions asked of you and your child). Make sure your child answers all questions truthfully.
- The probation officer will decide how to handle your child’s case, after asking for records and information from your child’s school as well as any other agencies your child may have been associated with. The probation officer will then decide whether to refer your child for informal supervision or schedule your child’s case for a Court hearing.
- There are four basic outcomes in your child’s drug crime case. Your Philadelphia attorney may be able to have the case dismissed entirely, meaning the case is closed. Informal Adjustment means your child is allowed to live at home, however must follow all rules handed down by the juvenile probation officer. Informal Adjustment can last up to six months, then the charges will be dismissed. Under Consent Decree, it will be recommended that the case proceed, and a delinquency petition be filed. The last outcome is known as Adjudication, meaning a formal delinquency petition will be filed, and your child’s case will be heard before a judge.
Overview on Juvenile Drug Charges in Pennsylvania
- Common Drug Offenses by Juveniles
- Options for Juveniles Charged with Drug Crimes
- Finding the Best Juvenile Drug Charge Lawyer in Chester County
Key Issues in Juvenile Defense
Juvenile Proceedings in Pennsylvania
Deferred Adjudication and the Consent Decree for Chester County Juveniles
Potential Consequences for a Juvenile Conviction in West Chester
How will Juvenile Charges Impact My College Application?
Do a need a Juvenile Attorney?
What is the Juvenile Court Process?
Will Your Child Be Prosecuted like an Adult?
What Does a Juvenile Probation Officer Do?
What’s the Difference Between a Juvenile and an Adult Prosecution?
Common Drug Offenses by Juveniles
Minors under the age of 18 in West Chester often commit drug crimes at a lower scale than adults. Some of the most commonly committed juvenile drug offenses are:
- Possession of Illegal Drugs: When a juvenile is in possession of a controlled substance, he or she can be charged with a criminal offense. Common drugs possessed by juveniles include marijuana, LSD, cocaine, methamphetamine, opium, ecstasy, and others.
- Possession of Drug Paraphernalia: It is illegal in Pennsylvania for a juvenile, or anyone else, to possess an object or instrument that is used for or intended to be used for inhaling, injecting, planting, producing, packaging, or preparing drugs.
- Possession with Intent to Sell: If the juvenile intended to sell the drugs in his or her possession, he or she can be charged with this offense. Law enforcement can use several factors to determine intent to sell, such as the presence of bags, scales, or containers.
- Illegal Possession of Prescription Drugs: If a juvenile is found with a prescription drug without a valid prescription, he or she can be charged with a crime. Commonly used prescription drugs are Xanax, Valium, Adderall, Vicodin, and others.
Options for Juveniles Charged with Drug Crimes
When a juvenile is charged with a drug crime, he or she can be charged as an adult and face regular criminal penalties, or he or she could be offered deferred adjudication by the District Attorney. Some of the common requirements of deferred adjudication programs in West Chester include:
- House arrest
- Drug abuse program
- Community service
- Suspended driver’s license
- Periodic drug testing
Under deferred adjudication, the juvenile can complete the judges predetermined requirements, in exchange for having the charges against them dropped. If the juvenile fails to successfully complete the program, he or she can be prosecuted for the original offense.
Knowledge and Control
In order to be convicted of drug possession, a juvenile must knowingly possess or control the illegal substance. Unfortunately, this is much more complex than the juvenile claiming he or she was unaware of the drug and the circumstances of the case can allow the prosecutor to prove the juvenile was aware there were drugs in his or her possession or control. Control means the prosecutor does not necessarily have to show the juvenile was holding the drugs—i.e. had them in a pocket or elsewhere on his or her body—rather must only show the juvenile had control over the area where the drugs were discovered. As an example, if a police officer pulls a juvenile over and discovers drugs in the trunk or the glove box, it is reasonable to assume the juvenile was in control of the drugs. The same is true if drugs are found in the juvenile’s backpack, room, school locker or any other area where it can be reasonably assumed the juvenile had control over.
Juvenile Drug Offense Process
If your child is charged as a juvenile for his or her drug offense, then the juvenile court system will have jurisdiction over the penalties and punishments. Juvenile courts are much more interested in rehabilitation and ensuring the child does not make the same bad choices in the future. As soon as you have a knowledgeable Pennsylvania juvenile drug attorney on the case, he or she will investigate your child’s case thoroughly, for a reason to fight for a dismissal of the charges or reduction of the charges. If there is simply insufficient evidence to support a drug possession or possession with intent to sell charge, the case will be dismissed, and your child will face no further consequences.
A juvenile in the state of Pennsylvania facing drug charges may be able to receive Deferred Adjudication, which would allow the juvenile to fulfill certain requirements such as drug counseling, substance abuse programs or house arrest for a specific length of time. Upon successful completion of these requirements, the case against the juvenile is dismissed and will no longer be on his or her permanent record. When one of the penalties for a juvenile charged with a drug offense is drug counseling, the parents may also be asked to attend drug counseling with the juvenile in some instances.
If probation is ordered, the juvenile will be required to comply with specific terms. These terms could include regular attendance at school, finding a job or maintaining a job if the juvenile is old enough, participation in family counseling, performing community service, or other requirements. The juvenile may also be asked to regularly report to a juvenile probation officer. While juvenile probation is typically for a period of six months, in some instances it can be longer.
For particularly serious drug charges (when the juvenile is not charged as an adult), the juvenile will be required to face a judge and may spend some time in a juvenile detention center (42 Pa.C.S. §§ 6352). Detention can involve home confinement, placement in a juvenile detention center, placement with a juvenile home, or even placement with a foster family or guardian. Typically, Pennsylvania juvenile drug possession cases do not result in detention unless the drug possession occurred as the result of a violent crime or a robbery or the juvenile is a repeat offender.
Getting Legal Help for Your Juvenile’s Pennsylvania Drug Charges
Being charged with drug possession as a juvenile in the state of Pennsylvania is serious and could potentially result in harsh penalties. A drug possession charge for your juvenile could not only make his or her life very difficult, it could ruin your child’s chances at a quality education, participation in school sports or activities or even a goal of entering the military. Speaking to an experienced Pennsylvania juvenile criminal defense attorney when your child has been charged with a drug offense is very important—and the sooner you do so, the better for your child. A juvenile drug possession case may well hinge on the whether the police acted properly during the initial search or confiscation of the drugs, and a knowledgeable Pennsylvania juvenile criminal defense attorney can make those determinations and argue for them in court.
Finding the Best Juvenile Drug Charge Lawyer in Chester County
If your child is facing drug charges in Newton Square, Exton, Downington, Southeastern Pennsylvania, Willow Street, or Coatesville, it is important to ensure that he or she has the right team of defense lawyers. The attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices are dedicated to fighting for the rights and freedom of individuals who have been arrested for drug crimes.
Contact us today at (610) 692-8700 to set up a consultation on your case. The attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices are ready to serve you, and will work tirelessly to help you avoid the most serious penalties associated with your alleged offense, and to prevent this charge from permanently staining your child’s criminal record.
Contact Our Pennsylvania Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyers
If your child has been charged with a juvenile drug crime in West Chester, Philadelphia, Lancaster, or anywhere in the State of Pennsylvania, it is crucial you speak to an experienced West Chester juvenile criminal defense attorney immediately in order to safeguard your child’s future.
The Chester County drug crime defense attorneys of Ciccarelli Law Offices have successfully represented individuals throughout the state of Pennsylvania that have been accused of sex crimes. Our Chester County law firm is based at 304 North High Street, West Chester PA 19380 and serves clients in Kennett Square, Downingtown, West Chester, Coatesville, Exton, Chester Springs, Chadds Ford, Landenberg, Honey Brook, Oxford, Malvern, Parkesburg, Phoenixville, and Paoli. Contact us now at (610) 692-8700 or call toll free (877) 529-2422. Don’t wait—contact an attorney immediately. We represent juvenile clients in Chester County, Berks County, Bucks County, Lancaster County, Delaware County, Montgomery County and Philadelphia.