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Hackensack Juvenile Drug Crime Charges
Juvenile Crimes

Last updated on October 20, 2023

Juvenile Drug Possession Charges in New Jersey

Teenagers are sometimes known for indulging in risky behavior. Often, this is because teenagers are under the impression that bad things can never happen to them. In unfortunate situations, such as texting while driving or driving under the influence (DUI), the results can be catastrophic, forever changing the landscape of a teenager’s life and permanently affecting their family. The same is true when a minor is convicted of a juvenile drug possession charge. The knowing and illegal possession of any drug can ruin their chances of entering the military, participating in school activities, and even going to college – not to mention any fatal consequences drug use can result in. Before you make any decisions, speak with an experienced New Jersey juvenile crimes lawyer. At Lustberg Law Offices, our lawyers understand the complexities of these cases and are committed to protecting the rights and futures of young individuals facing such charges. Contact us today at (201) 880-5311 for a confidential consultation and take the first step towards a strong defense. 

How a Hackensack Juvenile Drug Possession Charge Can Happen

A minor can be charged with drug possession in New Jersey in a few ways. First and foremost, the minor must knowingly possess the illegal drug. For example, if a drug such as marijuana, cocaine, or heroin is found in the glove compartment or trunk of a vehicle or in the child’s backpack, police may have enough probable cause to determine that the juvenile knew the substance was there. Additionally, a minor can be charged with drug possession when stashing drugs in areas they control, such as a school locker, motor vehicle, or bedroom. Ultimately, any juvenile drug charge comes from the direct knowing, control, and possession of the illegal narcotic.

Understanding the Various Types of Drugs

If minors possess an illegal controlled dangerous substance, police may charge them with drug offenses. They may face possession, distribution, and intent to distribute charges. Moreover, additional charges may be pressed against them if they  are caught with drugs in a vehicle or on school property

The New Jersey Controlled Dangerous Substances Act categorizes drugs into five schedules, which depend on factors such as the drug’s potential for abuse, pharmacological effect, the risk to public health, and dependence liability.

NJ drug possession attorney

Schedule I. In New Jersey, Drugs classified as Schedule I are deemed to be extremely dangerous because they are not recognized to have any medical application, are highly prone to abuse and can lead to severe addiction. Some substances, such as heroin, mescaline, peyote, and LSD, are classified as Schedule I drugs due to their lack of accepted medical uses, high potential for abuse, and potential for severe dependence. Despite its legalization for recreational use in some states, marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I drug in New Jersey.

Schedule II. The New Jersey Controlled Dangerous Substances Act classifies certain drugs as Schedule II controlled substances. While these substances are accepted for medical purposes, they can also be highly addictive and lead to significant physical or psychological dependence. Schedule II CDS includes prescription drugs like oxycodone, methadone, fentanyl, and opiates.

Schedule III. Drugs listed under Schedule III include prescription medications that have recognized medical purposes but are also known to carry the risk of abuse. Substances, such as amphetamines, methamphetamines, and Ritalin, are classified as Schedule III drugs due to their accepted medical uses but the potential for abuse. When misused, they can lead to physical dependence or severe psychological dependence.

Schedule IV. The New Jersey Controlled Dangerous Substances Act designates Schedule IV substances as those with recognized medical benefits and a lesser risk of abuse than Schedule III drugs. These drugs include depressants and hypnotics like Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, and Ambien, which may cause limited physical or psychological dependence if misused.

Schedule V. Drugs classified as Schedule V have currently accepted medical uses and a low potential for abuse, and the risk of physical or psychological dependence is lower compared to Schedule IV substances, according to the New Jersey Controlled Dangerous Substances Act.

Schedule Description
Schedule I Extremely dangerous drugs lacking medical application, highly prone to abuse, and leading to severe addiction.
Schedule II Controlled substances accepted for medical use but highly addictive and leading to significant dependence.
Schedule III Prescription medications with recognized medical purposes but carrying abuse risk, leading to dependence when misused.
Schedule IV Substances with medical benefits and lesser abuse risk than Schedule III drugs, causing limited dependence if misused.
Schedule V Drugs with accepted medical use and low abuse potential, minimal risk of dependence compared to Schedule IV substances.

NJ Juvenile Drug Possession Charges Differ from Adult Drug Possession Charges

While adults charged with illegal possession of a drug in New Jersey have to face those charges in a court of law, juvenile drug possession is often handled in the NJ juvenile court system. These types of charges can result in additional options for the juvenile defendant, such as:

  • Providing drug counseling in hopes of rehabilitation.
  • Placing the juvenile on probation.
  • Placing the juvenile on informal probation, or diversion, which allows the minor to comply with the court’s rules without having to go to juvenile court. This can lead to the charges being dismissed for first-time offenders upon successful completion of the program.
  • If the juvenile is a repeat offender, detention in either a juvenile detention center or home confinement may be a result of juvenile drug possession.

Juvenile Drug Arrest in New Jersey

If law enforcement believes a minor is guilty of a drug offense, they will usually take them into custody. Minors will often be brought in by law enforcement to answer questions before being charged with criminal delinquency.

After the court signs the complaint regarding delinquency, the court can either keep the minor in detention or give them back to their parents. New Jersey State Statute 2A:4A-34 states that a court can only hold juveniles in detention if they pose a threat to the community, or are at high risk of missing court.

After that, the case will be transferred to a hearing at the family court. A judge will then review all facts and make a decision. A judge will decide if the minor is guilty or not. New Jersey law considers delinquency a juvenile offense that, if it is committed by an adult, would be a crime or disorderly offense or violation of any other penal statutes, ordinances, or regulations. A judge will order the sentence.

New Jersey State Statute 2A:4A-39 gives juveniles the right to counsel for any matter that could lead to the institution’s commitment to the juvenile. Your child can have an attorney represent them at any hearing. An attorney can represent your child at all hearings and fight for their innocence.

Can A Minor Go To Jail?

Even though offenses by minors typically fall into a distinct category compared to those by adults, in certain cases, minors can face trials as adults and endure equivalent penalties. If a juvenile with no previous record faces drug possession charges, the case should be presented in family court. In this setting, only a judge, without a jury, hears the charges. The proceedings are private, with only relevant parties allowed in the courtroom. This legal procedure is commonly referred to as an “adjudication hearing.” The resulting record remains confidential.

If a minor is found at fault in family court, they might receive a sentence of up to two years in a juvenile detention center rather than a standard jail, along with potential fines that could amount to thousands of dollars. Those handed milder sentences might be mandated to engage in community service and undergo outpatient substance abuse counseling. In instances where the charge involves possession of a minimal quantity of marijuana, probation coupled with a fine is a probable outcome.

If you’re concerned about a minor’s legal situation in New Jersey, an experienced New Jersey juvenile crimes lawyer can provide invaluable assistance. At Lustberg Law Offices, our lawyers understand the intricacies of the state’s juvenile justice system. We are dedicated to safeguarding the rights and future of minors facing legal challenges. Contact us today to ensure guidance and a compassionate approach tailored to the specific case.

New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer Adam M. Lustberg Can Help Your Son or Daughter Fight a Juvenile Drug Charge in Hackensack, NJ

No matter what your age, facing a drug possession charge in New Jersey is a scary and confusing time. The expert legal team at Lustberg Law understands that, as a parent, the only thing you want out of life is for your child to be safe and taken care of. Hackensack drug possession lawyer Adam M. Lustberg will help your child navigate the murky waters of a New Jersey juvenile drug possession charge and help them get the help they need. Contact the law firm today.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

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