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Newark Legal Issues Blog

Strict drug laws could put teens behind bars for dealing

Though most people think of drug dealers as adults who meet buyers covertly in dark alleys, the law suggests otherwise. Teenagers in New Jersey and across the United States can be charged with drug dealing for simply sharing a prescription drug or giving a friend marijuana in the park after school. If a teenager gives a friend a drug and the friend ends up dying from an overdose, the teen could be charged with homicide.

According to media reports, a teenager does not have to get money or profit from the drugs in order to be charged as a drug dealer. Sharing the drug is enough to be considered drug dealing. Everyone who was a part of the drug crime, including friends, siblings or parents, can have drug charges brought against them.

In a recent poll, approximately one-fourth of teens admitted to using marijuana in the past year. In addition, 25 percent of people who are addicted to prescription drugs say they began using them before the age of 13. Teenagers typically acquire these drugs through pooling money together, through an older sibling or by stealing from a parent. Teen deaths due to overdosing on drugs have doubled since 2015. Because of this, experts believe that the consequences of sharing drugs will increase over the next few years.

Between 2015 and 2017, more than 1,000 cases involving accidental overdose deaths were tried. The charges ranged from manslaughter to first-degree murder. Teenagers who share drugs may be tried as adults, which could lead to stiffer penalties. However, a lawyer can make sure that an individual presented with drug charges isn't denied any rights. In some cases, a lawyer may be able to show that the drugs being used as evidence were seized illegally without the proper warrant. This could result in the charges being reduced or dropped.

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