Larry P. McDougal
Larry P. McDougal - Attorney at Law
Richmond, Texas
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What to do when a teen is charged with a drug crime

Whether it was a complete surprise or you saw it coming, finding out that your teenager has been charged with a drug crime is a very difficult thing to go through as a parent.

You are probably wondering how this charge will affect your son or daughter's life, and whether it will get in the way of his or her future.

As a criminal defense law firm with decades of experience helping young people in the same exact situation faced by your child, we can help you understand the charges and potential consequences.

First of all, the state of Texas takes juvenile drug crimes -- even possession charges -- very seriously because lawmakers say they want to protect kids from becoming addicted. For that reason, your teen faces a lot more than a slap on the wrist, even if it doesn't seem to be a very big deal.

Misdemeanor or felony?

In Texas, most drug offenses are considered felonies, except for possession of very small amounts of marijuana or prescription drugs. Felonies are the most serious drug offenses and result in harsher penalties.

Whether a charge will be a misdemeanor or felony depends on the type of charge -- such as possession, manufacturing or trafficking -- as well as the type of drug and the amount of drug.

Juvenile or adult?

Teens under the age of 18 are typically charged within the juvenile system, which operates differently than the adult criminal justice system.

In juvenile court, a teen charged with a misdemeanor drug offense could face consequences including probation, mandatory treatment and/or automatic driver's license suspension.

The same penalties can be ordered for juveniles convicted of felony offenses, in addition to being placed in the Texas Juvenile Justice Department.

Teens 18 and older will be charged as adults and face the same consequences as any other adult charged with drug crimes. This can include serious fines, prison time and a permanent criminal record.

"The drugs weren't mine."

This is what many kids say when they are accused of drug crimes. They say they were simply holding the drugs for someone else.

Even if this is true, it is not a defense to drug possession charges. Possession charges only look at who was in the care, custody and control of the drugs, not who owned, paid for or planned to use the drugs.

How a lawyer can help

A drug conviction -- even when the teen is a minor -- can affect his or her future for years to come. It can result in losing out on academic, athletic and employment opportunities.

An effective defense lawyer will work to mitigate the consequences of the charges in order to avoid overly-harsh and long-lasting punishment.

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