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What You Should Know About Juvenile Drug Arrests

The Law Firm of Andrea M. Kolski

It’s no secret that Texas drug laws are among the most brutal in the US. Even though decades of research show that strict drug laws have no impact on public safety or crime reduction, Texas continues pouring money and resources to prosecute even the smallest of drug crimes.

Texas remains an outlier when compared to the rest of the nation. Almost half the states in the US have realized strict drug laws have little effect on overall crime and continue to pass legislation to legalize or lessen punishments. As of this writing, marijuana is now legal or decriminalized in over 19 states while the movement to reduce drug-related penalties is gaining popular support elsewhere. Law enforcement, legislators, and the general public have concluded the “war on drugs” has cost more money, resources, and lives than it has saved.

But Texas is the exception. In many ways, Texas has doubled down on it’s already strict drug laws and enforcement. A Texas drug arrest can destroy a persons life and it is even worse when juveniles are caught in the crosshairs.

The consequences for Texas kids that find themselves in legal trouble can be devastating. In Texas alone, there were 4,753 juvenile arrests in 2019. In Texas, the juvenile arrest count practically doubled from two years prior.

Looking out for our kids is a top priority for any concerned parent. Parents also understand that their kids will likely be exposed to drugs or drug use during their formative years. The question is, what are the legal consequences for kids facing drug charges in Texas?

This guide will provide an overview of Texas juvenile drug laws and what parents can do.

The Definition of Juvenile in Texas

Before we get into drug arrest laws for juveniles, you need to have a clear idea of what Texas legally defines as a child. In Texas, a juvenile is anybody that is over 10 years old but younger than 17 years old.

However, there are circumstances where kids that are 17 and 18 years old can be prosecuted as juveniles. These depend on when the incident occurred and what type of crime it was. In the case of drug possession, that would fall into this category.

The main times where Texas may decide to charge a juvenile as an adult for drug-related crimes is when it is a first degree felony or when it is an aggravated controlled substances felony.

Minor Drug Offenses

In Texas, even minor drug offenses can impact a young persons life. The laws are complex and the definitions are often confusing. The type of offense can be the difference between adult-level punishments or juvenile-level punishments.

For drugs that fall under Penalty Group 1-A, this would be having possession of any drug in that category under 4,000 units.

For drugs that fall under Penalty Group 2, this would be having possession of any drug in that category under 400 grams. The same amount would be the case for drugs that are in Penalty Groups 3 and 4.

However, you can also be a manufacturer and have your case not fall under the first degree felony category. But, the number of units of grams for these Penalty Groups is going to be a lot less on the manufacturer’s side.

For example, it only takes 80 units of manufacturing a drug in Penalty Group 1-A to be considered a first degree felony. In Penalty Group 2, it takes just four grams of manufacturing. In Penalty Groups 3 and 4, it takes just 200 grams of manufacturing.

When it comes to these types of drug offenses, you can see that the difference between manufacturing and possession is significant. The distinction can turn a first degree felony into a lesser degree felony and the reverse as well.

For drug charges that fall below first degree felonies, minors are much more likely to stay in the juvenile system. That means avoiding an adult prison system and likely not having to serve any time locked up at all.

In more serious cases, minors can be forced to serve time in a juvenile detention center. However, judges can also go the route of community service, counseling, or drug rehabilitation programs.

Escalating Drug Offenses

Depending on the circumstance, Texas minors can find themselves facing much harsher penalties. This is because, as discussed above, these charges could be first degree felonies if adults committed them.

Why is this distinction so important? Because first degree felonies committed by minors can automatically be classified as cases that automatically receive a determinate sentence. Determinate sentence laws harken back to the 80’s Reagan-era “mandatory sentencing” guidelines that enforce harsh punishments without regard to the context of a case.

That means that the minor has to serve time away and if serious enough, the juvenile courts could give up jurisdiction and transfer that case to an adult courtroom, trying the child as an adult.

The cases that would fall into this category are usually going to be possession and manufacturing drug cases that meet the requirements of a first degree felony mentioned above.

However, those are not the only times when a minor can receive a determinate sentence. If a juvenile qualifies as having committed habitual felony conduct, then they would also automatically receive this sentence.

For those that do not know, habitual felony conduct is when a minor commits a felony at least two previous times. These types of felonies would have to be considered above the state jail felony level.

In other words, if you get caught with possession of a drug that would be a third degree amount three times, you can be classified as having committed habitual felony conduct.

One example is if you get caught with possession of a Penalty Group 1 drug three times. Normally, it would take 200 grams one time to get served with a determinate sentence. However, a third degree felony takes just one gram.

So, you can get caught with just over one gram of a Penalty Group 1 drug and be forced into this category. In Texas, this can have dire consequences for the accused.

Hire a Juvenile Drug Lawyer to Protect Your Childs Future

These are just some of the factors that may come into play when it comes to drug arrests for juveniles. Remember that in Texas, most juvenile cases like this are going to fall between the ages of 10-16. These are critical formative years for most young people and can have a major impact on the remainder of their life.

Don’t gamble with your child’s future in Texas juvenile courts. No matter the case, it is crucial that you have a drug possession attorney by your side. A knowledgeable juvenile drug attorney can provide important legal counsel and a proper strategy to defend your child’s future.

Are you or a loved one dealing with a juvenile drug arrest case? Get qualified, experienced, and aggressive legal help today to protect that young persons future. Message us today for a confidential consultation.

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