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What Are the Consequences of Underage Drug Charges?

When you’ve been convicted of a drug crime in Georgia, you could face some very severe consequences. But what if a minor committed the offense?

While the state has different legal processes for juveniles, the consequences of a drug arrest can still be quite harsh for young people. It’s important to work with a juvenile criminal defense attorney with experience handling the various aspects of these cases.

The following are just a few of the potential consequences of an underage drug charge and conviction:

  • Suspension from school and/or extracurricular activities, including sports and clubs
  • A juvenile record that will be visible to law enforcement officers who make traffic stops
  • Potential loss of academic and sports scholarships or other educational opportunities in college or graduate school
  • Loss of eligibility for grants or loans
  • Incarceration at a juvenile detention facility (in severe cases)

Penalties and requirements for young offenders

Some of the drug offense penalties minors face in Georgia are like the penalties for adults. They’re simply adjusted based on the needs and circumstances of young people.

Adult offenders often must engage in drug counseling, but it’s especially common for young offenders. That’s because the primary focus of juvenile court is to rehabilitate. The court may also order juvenile offenders’ parents to attend counseling with them.

Probation, commonly used for adult offenders, is another option for young offenders. The juvenile must comply with specific terms, such as regular school attendance, maintaining a job (or finding a job if old enough), participating in drug or family counseling, and performing community service. The length of the probation period varies depending on the sentence and the circumstances of the crime.

Diversion is another common option for juvenile offenders. As in probation, a juvenile engaged in a diversion program must comply with strict rules outlined by the court. However, the offender does not have to formally appear in court. This option is usually only available to first-time offenders, and it’s not available in all jurisdictions of the state.

Finally, juvenile detention (versus a prison sentence for adults) may be involved in rare cases. Detention may involve home confinement or placement in a juvenile detention facility. In other cases, the offender may have to live with a foster family or court-appointed guardian. Detention is ordered only for particularly egregious cases with aggravating circumstances, or when the juvenile is a repeat offender.

For further information and guidance on juvenile crimes in Georgia, contact a skilled criminal defense attorney at the law office of James D. Michael, P.C.