What to Know if a Minor Has Been Charged with a Drug Offense

What to Know if a Minor Has Been Charged with a Drug Offense

It’s no big surprise that Florida’s youth, much like that around the nation, is prone to experimenting with recreational and illicit drugs. Sometimes this lands minors across Brevard Country in trouble with the law.

Below we’ll cover a few of the most common questions you need answered if your minor has been charged with a drug offense in Brevard County.

1. What Constitutes a Drug Possession Charge in Brevard County?
a. The substance must be illegal and controlled
b. The minor must have prior knowledge of their possession of an illegal drug; and
c. The minor must be in control of the drug

2. Can a Minor Hire a Lawyer?
Either the parent or legal guardian of a minor charged with a drug crime must hire their legal defense. An exception is made if the minor is emancipated.

3. Misdemeanor vs Felony Drug Charges for Minors
Penalties for drug crimes in Brevard County can be severe, even for minors. However, most common charge minors face related to drugs is a first-degree misdemeanor (simple possession for personal use). However, if drugs other than marijuana are involved, even small amounts can result in felony charges.

4. Penalties for Juvenile Drug Charges in Brevard County Florida
Misdemeanor possession charges generally go through juvenile court, with penalties often meaning time in a detention center, drug treatment programs, community service, probation, random drug testing and fines.

Minors facing drug felony charges in Florida may face similar penalties as those of a misdemeanor, or may be charged as an adult if the child is closer to legal age. A felony will also follow the child well into adulthood, impacting everything from college applications to renting an apartment and certain career paths.

5. Who is Responsible For Court Costs Associated with a Minor Charged of a Drug Offense?
In many cases, a judge will order the minor to pay his or her own fines and court costs if convicted. Because many minors are still in school and/or do not have a job, a payment plan may be established. In the event that the child has no source of income, their parent or legal guardian will be responsible for paying the fines and fees, sometimes as high as thousands of dollars.

6. Can Drug Possession Charges For Minors Be Sealed?
A sealed or expunged criminal record is effectively ‘hidden’ from background checks and is therefore an often sought-after potential. According to Florida law, only ONE criminal record can be expunged in a lifetime, so offenders would be wise to use this option only after careful consideration. For example, it may not be worth attempting this for a misdemeanor.

For minors, if a child has not had any other legal issues or convictions on their record, their criminal record as a minor will be automatically expunged when they reach the age of 24. If the minor or their parents wish to have their record expunged or sealed prior to the minor’s 24th birthday, they will need the help of an experienced lawyer to take them through the process.

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