The nightmare scenario for many parents is getting that phone call: your child is in trouble with the law. According to the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety, police arrested almost 10,000 juveniles in 2020, and some of those arrests were for drug possession. In New Jersey, drug laws apply to everyone, including minors.
The experience of having an underage child arrested for drug possession can be daunting, with many parents unsure of the next steps or consequences. The state has specific protocols and consequences in place for minors found in possession of drugs, and understanding these can provide some clarity during challenging times.
Initial arrest and detention
When police arrest a minor for drug possession, they will typically take the child to the police station for processing. Parents or guardians will receive notification, and in most cases, you can pick up your child from the station. However, depending on the severity of the charge, law enforcement might detain the minor in a juvenile detention center until a court hearing.
Juvenile court system involvement
New Jersey handles juvenile drug offenses in the juvenile court system. This system aims to rehabilitate rather than punish. The court considers factors like the minor’s age, the type of drug, the amount in possession and any prior criminal record.
The penalties for drug possession by a minor vary. Some potential consequences include mandatory drug counseling, community service, probation or even time in a juvenile detention center. For small amounts of certain drugs, like marijuana, the court might lean more towards counseling and education rather than severe punishments.
The state offers diversion programs for first-time offenders. These programs focus on rehabilitation, providing education and counseling instead of traditional penalties. Successful completion often results in the dismissal of charges.
Permanent record concerns
A common concern among parents is the impact of an arrest on their child’s permanent record. In many cases, the court seals juvenile records, meaning they do not show up in most background checks once the child becomes an adult. However, specific circumstances or repeated offenses can change this.
The arrest of an underage child for drug possession in New Jersey is a serious matter. The state focuses on rehabilitation, aiming to steer minors away from drug use and towards more positive futures. Remember to support your child, ensuring they understand the severity of their actions and the importance of making better decisions in the future.