Juvenile Drug Possession Crimes
Drug usage and possession while underage can have serious legal consequences in New Jersey, especially if your child had enough on them that the arresting officer believed they had intent to distribute the drug. At Schneider Freiberger, we have been defending juvenile drug cases for decades and know how the courts and prosecutors execute such cases. We can help you defend your child’s legal rights and minimize the penalties for these charges.
What Is Considered Juvenile Drug Possession in NJ?
As far as NJ drug possession charges are concerned, a juvenile is anyone under the age of 18. Juvenile drug possession will be charged under the Comprehensive Drug Reform Act, also known as N.J.S.A 2C:35-2. After the arrest, the prosecution will decide whether to charge the defendant as a juvenile or an adult. Many factors are looked at when deciding on this, the most important of which are the age of the defendant and the severity of their crime. Simple possession will likely be handled as a juvenile case in family court. In a family court case, the record will be sealed and only those directed involved in the case are allowed to attend the hearings. These cases are always decided by a judge, and there is no jury present. If the case involves other charges such as those involving violence, the defendant can end up being tried in a criminal case as an adult. This may also take place if the offender has a previous criminal record.
Arrests for underage drug possession often happen at public venues or locales like concerts or festivals. Incidents at places like PNC Bank Arts Center and the Prudential Center have caused the amount of uniformed and plain clothes police officers patrolling the halls and parking lots to increase over the years. We have handled cases involving juvenile drug possession and usage in the following venues and more:
- Appel Farm Arts and Music Center
- Asbury Festival Area
- Asbury Park Convention Hall
- Bally’s Atlantic City
- BB&T Pavilion
- Bergen Performing Arts Center
- Boardwalk Hall Arena
- Borgata Hotel Casino
- Caesars Atlantic City
- Community Theatre At Mayo Center For The Performing Arts
- Count Basie Theatre
- Golden Nugget Atlantic City
- Hard Rock Atlantic City
- Harrah’s – Atlantic City
- House of Independents
- Izod Center
- MetLife Stadium
- New Jersey Performing Arts Center – Prudential Hall
- Ocean City Music Pier
- Ocean Resort Casino
- Paramount Theatre at Asbury Park Convention Hall
- PNC Bank Arts Center
- Prudential Center
- Resorts Casino Atlantic City
- Scottish Rite Auditorium
- Showboat Casino
- Stanhope House
- Starland Ballroom
- State Theatre – NJ
- Stone Pony
- Sun National Bank Center
- Surf Club
- Susquehanna Bank Center
- TD Bank Arts Centre
- The Great Auditorium
- The MAC at Monmouth University
- The Saint
- The Wonder Bar – Asbury park
- Tropicana Casino & Showroom
- Two River Theater
- Union County Arts Center
- Wellmont Theatre
- Wildwoods Convention Center
Also keep in mind that if your child has been caught with drugs on school property, whether in the halls or out on the fields or even in a school bus, they will face additional charges under the Drug Free School Zone statute.
Juvenile Drug Possession Penalties
When charged as a juvenile in family court, the offender can be sentenced to time in a juvenile detention center, in lieu of the jail time an adult offender would face. Other common court orders include:
- Participation in community service
- Attending an outpatient rehabilitation program for drug use
- Home confinement
- Participation in a work, academic or vocational program.
The court may also choose diversion, which is an informal type of probation that has the minor comply with the court’s rules in exchange for not having the case go to juvenile court. First time offenders are often offered this, and compliance with the program can lead to the charges being dropped. Depending on the factors of the case, heavy fines may also be incurred. Convictions involving intent to distribute also tend to be harsher.
Under certain circumstances, the charges may be enhanced and lead to stiffer penalties. If the offender gave drugs to another individual and that individual died due to the drug, the defendant may be charged with criminal homicide and this could mean that the defendant is tried as an adult. Another common enhancer is being caught with drugs on or within 1,000 feet of school property, as previously mentioned.
Get the Best Defense for Juvenile Possession in NJ
If your child has been charged with drug possession, it is critical to protect their rights and their future. At Schneider Freiberger, we have the expertise needed in these types of criminal cases to ensure the best possible outcome. We will put all our energy into keeping the charges from going to court and minimizing the penalties for these charges.