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Required Proof for a Juvenile Drug Possession Conviction

Posted on in Drug Crimes

Required Proof for a Juvenile Drug Possession ConvictionTeenagers sometimes give in to the temptation of experimenting with illegal drugs. While teens may see no harm in trying drugs, being caught in possession of drugs has serious consequences. Your teen may not face the same jail sentence that an adult offender may receive. Courts focus on rehabilitation for juveniles who commit nonviolent crimes. However, a drug offense can limit some of the opportunities available to your teen. For instance, a person convicted of drug possession for the first time cannot receive government student aid for one year. Teens may also face discipline at school and difficulty getting into the college of their choice. Your teen may be able to avoid a costly drug conviction if your defense attorney can show that the circumstances did not meet the legal definition of drug possession.


Prosecutors must prove that the person charged with drug possession knew that they were in possession of an illegal drug. Saying that the teen did not know it was an illegal substance may not be a valid defense depending on the circumstances. Teens can be guilty of drug possession if it is reasonable to believe that they knew they were in possession of an illegal drug. Circumstances may include:

  • How the teen came into possession of the substance;
  • Who gave the drugs; or
  • Whether the substance looks like drugs.

A judge will have difficulty believing that a teen did not know that a leafy substance, powder, or pills were drugs. It is a different matter if the drugs were hidden or disguised and the teen honestly did not understand the situation.


The other step in a drug possession case is proving that the defendant had control over the substance. Prosecutors can establish control if the drugs were found on the teen or inside one of their possessions, such as:

  • A backpack or bag;
  • School locker or desk;
  • Vehicle; or
  • Room at home.

Teens may not realize that police must establish probable cause and present a warrant before searching them or their property for drugs. Even a school staff member needs reasonable suspicion that a student may be carrying drugs before asking to search a student’s belongings. The defense can suppress evidence that was obtained through an illegal search. However, a warrant may not be required when searching inside a school locker or desk because the school can claim that these are school property.

Contact a Crystal Lake Criminal Defense Lawyer

It can be frightening if your teen has been charged with drug possession. A McHenry County juvenile defense attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can explain how you can reach the best possible outcome for your child. To schedule a free consultation, call 815-338-3838.



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