Juvenile Drug Possession

If you or your child has been arrested or charged with possessing drugs, his or her future is at stake. Therefore, it is important that you obtain an experienced attorney who can help you explore your options and mitigate the consequences of the drug charge. Since a juvenile record poses severe consequences for young children, potentially destroying a promising future, it is essential that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. The attorneys at the Law Offices of John F. Marshall have experience as former prosecutors and are fully knowledgeable of the criminal law pertaining to juveniles. If your child has been charged with drug possession, it is vital that you speak with an attorney immediately. Our attorneys will provide you with a free consultation in order to assess the circumstances of your case.

Drug Possession as Applied to Juveniles

When a juvenile is charged with drug possession, the Juvenile Court must first adjudicate the juvenile “delinquent,” which takes place at the delinquency hearing. Once the child is adjudicated delinquent, which means they would be found guilty of the crime of drug possession if they were an adult, the Court holds a dispositional hearing to determine the appropriate sentence to impose. The Court decides what kind of penalty to impose by weighing a variety of factors including characteristics of the juvenile—age, previous record, prior social service received, psychological and social needs of the individual, and characteristics of the offense. While detention is a possibility, the court can implement a variety of alternatives to incarceration including but not limited to: releasing the juvenile to the custody of his or her parents, community services, order the juvenile to participate in work programs or an academic or vocational program, or place the juvenile in an outpatient rehabilitation program for substance abuse.

Possession of Drugs

A juvenile could be charged under N.J.S.A 2C: 35-10 if he or she possesses, actually or constructively, a controlled substance without a valid prescription.

A juvenile can be charged under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a) for

Possession of Schedule I, II, III, & IV: A juvenile in possession of a controlled dangerous substance, or its analog, classified in Schedule I [i.e. Heroin, psilocybin], II [i.e. cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone], III [i.e. anabolic steroids, or IV [i.e. xanax, valium] is guilty of a crime of the third degree, and faces up to two years of detention and a fine of up to $35,000.00.

A juvenile in possession of Schedule V [i.e. some cough suppressants] is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree, and faces up to one year in detention and a fine of up to $15,000.00. Possession of more than 50 grams of marijuana, including any adulterants or dilutants, or more than five grams of hashish is also a fourth degree offense, and brings a fine of up to $25,000.00. Possession of more 50 grams or less of marijuana, including any adulterants or dilutants, or five grams or less of hashish is a disorderly person offense, and faces up to six months detention. It is important to note that there is a presumption of nonincarceration for any juvenile who committed an offense of the fourth degree or less who has not previously been adjudicated delinquent or convicted of a crime or offense.

Juvenile Possession with Intent to Distribute

A juvenile can be charged with drug possession with intent to distribute under the provisions of N.J.S.A. 2C: 35-5, if the juvenile knowingly or purposely possessed a controlled substance, and “had under his or her control, with intent to distribute or dispense it”:

Schedule I or Schedule II: N.J.S.A. 2C: 35-5(b)(4), (b)(5): If the juvenile has a quantity of one ounce or more, including any adulterants or dilutants of any Schedule I or Schedule II substance, he or she is guilty of a crime in the second degree; if the individual has a quantity of less than one ounce of any Schedule I or II substance, he or she is guilty of a crime of the third degree, and may face two years detention and a fine up to $75,000.

Heroin or any Coca Leaf Derivative: N.J.S.A 2C: 35-5(b)(1), (b)(2), (b)(3): If the juvenile has a quantity of five ounces or more, including any adulterants or dilutants, he or she is guilty of a crime of first degree and could face up to four years detention, and a fine of $500,000. If the juvenile has a quantity of less then five ounces but more than ½ of an ounce of heroin, he or she is guilty of a crime of second degree and could face up to three years detention. If the individual has a quantity of less than ½ of an ounce, he or she is guilty of a crime of third degree, and could face up to a two years detention and a fine of $75,000.

Methamphetamine: N.J.S.A. 2C: 35-5(b)(9): If the juvenile has a quantity of five ounces or more, including any adulterants or dilutants, he or she is guilty of a crime in the first degree, and could face four years detention and a fine up to $300,000. If the individual has a quantity of less than five ounces but more than ½ of an ounce of methamphetamine, he or she is guilty of a crime in the second degree, and could face up to three years detention. If an individual has a quantity of less than ½ of an ounce of methamphetamine, he or she is guilty of a crime of third degree and could face up to two years detention.

Possession within a School Zone

A juvenile can be charged under N.J.S.A 2C:35-10 if his or her drug possession was on school property, or within 1,000 feet of a property used for school purposes. If the juvenile is convicted under this provision, he or she is required to perform at least 100 hours of community service, in addition to any other sentence imposed by the court.

If your child has been charged with a drug possession offense, it is important that you speak with an experienced lawyer with a solid reputation and who is very familiar with juvenile law. Our lawyers have experiencing representing juvenile offenders state-wide, and our lawyers are accessible Monmouth County, Middlesex County, Union County, Somerset County, Ocean County, Essex County, Ocean County, Mercer County, Hudson County, and Morris County. Initial consultations with our New Jersey defense attorneys are free of charge.