Teens and Prescription Drug Possession in Texas: What Parents Need to Know
The misuse of prescription drugs by teenagers has become a serious public safety problem. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, young adults are most susceptible to prescription drug abuse — with approximately eight percent of teenagers admitting they have used prescription drugs for non-medical purposes.
If a teenager is caught with prescription drugs they are not prescribed, they could be arrested on drug possession charges. Unlawful drug possession is a very serious criminal offense in Texas. However, parents should know that minors who are accused of illegal prescription drug possession may have options available through the Texas juvenile justice system.
Texas Juvenile Justice System: Understanding the Process
In Texas, the juvenile justice system is designed to resolve the cases of offenders who are between the ages of 10 and 16 years old. The core purpose of the system is to focus on the treatment and rehabilitation of young offenders. When a juvenile is accused of committing an offense, state authorities have several options available:
- No Formal Action: For minor offenses, a teen may simply be released into the custody of the parents/caregivers. As an example, truancy is often not formally prosecuted in Texas. With a more serious offense, such as prescription drug possession, formal action is more likely — though still not guaranteed.
- Municipal Court: Some cases are sent to municipal court or a justice court. From there, the youthful offender may be diverted to a local program for treatment, care or rehabilitation.
- Juvenile Probation Department: Each year, approximately 60,000 cases are referred to Texas juvenile probation. From there, the specific circumstances of a teenager’s offense will be assessed. The charges can be dismissed outright, set for deferred prosecution, adjudicated for probation, or the teen may be sent to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD).
If your child is accused of prescription drug possession, it is imperative you speak to an experienced attorney. There are many options available for teenagers who are 16 years old or younger. A lawyer can help ensure they get access to the proper rehabilitative services and ensure the charges will not stay on their permanent record.
Texas Law: 17 Year Olds are Treated as Adults
If your child is 17 years old, their case will likely be handled by the adult justice system. Texas has some of the most restrictive juvenile justice laws in the country. It is one of only four states to treat 17 years old as adults. If your 17 year old was arrested on prescription drug possession charges, call a criminal defense lawyer immediately.
Speak to a Galveston, TX Drug Possession Defense Lawyer Today
Mark A. Diaz is a skilled drug possession defense attorney. We have extensive experience representing juveniles. If your teenager was charged with prescription drug possession, our legal team is here to help. To arrange a free, fully private consultation, please contact us right away by calling (409) 515-6170. From our office location in Galveston, we serve communities throughout the region, including Jamaica Beach, Galveston Island and Texas City.