As a reminder, children ages 10 to 16 can be charged in court for committing crimes. Allegations of criminal acts by children in this age group, such as juveniles with drugs at school, are filed in Juvenile Courts. The charges are written into a charging instrument that is filed in the Juvenile Court. You have heard of charging instruments though, you may not know it. In adult misdemeanors, the charging instrument is called a complaint or information. In adult felonies, the charging instrument is the indictment. In all Juvenile cases, the charging instrument is a petition. Juvenile Petitions are always drafted to allege delinquent conduct as opposed to a specific crime. However, the petition will go on to describe the delinquent conduct and will use language from the Health and Safety Code that describes juveniles with drugs at school.
Juveniles can be charged with most everything an adult can be charged with and a little more. As a result, juveniles are charged with illegal drug possession at much the same rate as adults. However, there can be a big difference between the adult and the drug possession charges. Children ages 10 to 16 are subject to our compulsory school attendance laws. Because juveniles spend much of their time at school, juvenile crimes will tend to occur at school. Schools, however, are drug-free zones under our laws. Possessing drugs in a drug free zone is a higher level of offense than plain drug possession.
A juvenile defense possessing drugs at school will find herself charged with an offense that is one level higher or one level more serious than possessing drugs elsewhere. For example, a Class B Misdemeanor Possession of Marijuana Under 2 Ounces is raised up to a Class A Misdemeanor when the allegation of a drug-free zone is added. A Class A Misdemeanor Possession of a Controlled Substance charge is raised up to a State Jail Felony charge when the allegation of a drug-free zone is added. In this way, the stakes are even higher for juveniles who are charged with illegal drug possession. That is why you and your child need a good attorney.
Drug possession charges can be defended. There are two basic ways to fight a felony drug possession case. The first way is to attack the law. Attacking the law means showing that what has to be proven under the law to gain a conviction for possession of a controlled substance, cannot be proven in your case. The things that must be proven are called elements and every element has to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
I have successfully defended many drug possession cases. One element of drug possession that I continually attack in my practice is the element of knowledge. Every petition for possession of illegal drugs will include the language, “the defendant intentionally or knowingly possessed x drug.” If you did not know there were drugs in the backpack you were holding for a friend, for example, then you are not guilty of possession of drugs at school.
The second way to fight a drug possession at school case is on the facts. Sure you were holding the backpack but, you are not the owner. Your name is not in it or on it and the personal belongings in it are not yours. You possessed someone else’s backpack but, a jury will know that says nothing about whether you knew drugs were in it.
Contact The Peugh Law Firm
While drug possession may seem like a minor offense, the possible penalties show that the state of Texas considers it to be a serious crime. Juvenile punishments can include removing the child from his home. Because of these potential consequences, even if you have been charged with one of the less serious drug possession offenses you should immediately contact a Denton criminal defense attorney who has experience defending those accused of drug possession. The staff at The Peugh Law Firm has years of experience successfully defending clients in Denton County Juvenile Court who have been accused of possession of drugs at school. Contact us at (940) 566-0271 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation regarding your case.