Summer is in full swing – and so are the youth parties that can so often end in drug charges and DUIs.
Our Birmingham criminal defense lawyers know that such indiscretions can result in long-lasting consequences for the future. A drug or DUI arrest can impact your admission to certain colleges, and if you’re over the age of 18, it remains on your record indefinitely.
And yet, such arrests continue to be made because, as the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration recently reported, an average of 4,500 teenagers try marijuana for the first time during the summer months. That’s higher than at any other point during the year.
That’s not entirely surprising considering that many teens may be experiencing a new level of freedom when their parents decide they are old enough to be unsupervised. Being young, of course, means making mistakes, though, and many teens use this opportunity to experiment with drugs.
Of course, experimentation in and of itself doesn’t always have dire consequences. In fact, President Barack Obama has even admitted to prior experimentation with marijuana in both high school and college. What is serious is the potential for an overdose or an accident – and equally as grave is the possibility of a criminal record, which remain a blemish that could follow you for many years to come.
And if you think you can’t be charged as an adult just because you’re a juvenile – think again. Certain crimes involving drugs, namely drug trafficking, can’t by law be heard in Alabama’s juvenile court.
And while your teen may not consider him or herself a drug dealer, consider this scenario: A teen brings enough drugs to a party to share with everyone. Under Alabama Criminal Code 13A-12-211, this could be considered trafficking in marijuana. A person can be prosecuted under this statute – as an adult – if he or she “sells, furnishes, GIVES AWAY, delivers or distributes a controlled substance.” This is a Class B felony crime (in the same category as kidnapping, robbery, second-degree rape and arson), which means it’s punishable by a minimum of two years being bars and up to 20 years, with fines not to exceed $10,000.
The framers of the study also noted that use of drugs can lead to potentially aggressive behavior, which can land you in trouble, or at the least, reduced inhibitions that can lull teens in particular into poor decision-making.
Regardless of whether an offender is a juvenile or technically an adult, a skilled Birmingham defense lawyer can help negotiate to move cases to what’s known as Accountability Court Programs. This is for first-time or youthful offenders who have been accused of alcohol or drug-related crimes.
These programs are designed to address substance abuse and addiction issues, with the focus on rehabilitation and recovery, rather than punishment. There are four levels of programs – youthful and juvenile offenders, Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3. The most intensive of these, Level 3, is essentially an outpatient substance abuse treatment program.
Alternatives such as this can allow you to have your drug or alcohol arrest expunged.