Getting caught by law enforcement officials with a controlled substance is a serious crime for both adults and juveniles alike. Although the crime committed is the same, the courts tend to handle juvenile and adult cases very differently when it comes to punishment. A judge has more options available when it comes to punishing a juvenile.

If you are a minor and have been found in possession of a controlled substance, here are three potential types of punishment you could be facing. 

1. Drug Counseling

A judge might feel that you are in need of help to turn your life around, especially if you have had prior drug arrests as a minor. In these situations, a judge can order that you attend drug counseling. A drug counseling program can help you identify the reasons why you abuse controlled substances and learn to overcome your addictions in order to prevent more serious charges when you reach adulthood.

Counseling programs often include cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational enhancement therapy, and family therapy to ensure they are thoroughly addressing your rehabilitation needs. Failure to attend court mandated drug counseling could result in more severe forms of punishment.

2. Diversion

Adult offenders are sometimes placed on probation, which means they don't have to serve jail time, but they must abide by certain provisions set forth by the court. As a juvenile, your judge may decide to punish your drug arrest by sentencing you to diversion.

Diversion is similar to probation in the sense that a judge provides a certain set of rules you must follow. Diversion programs typically include a community service component, and once you have completed the terms of your diversion your charges are essentially dismissed. Diversion is a common punishment for first-time offenders, but it is important to note that your fingerprints will still be associated with a drug charge in the national database.

3. Detention

If you have had many run-ins with law enforcement for drug possession in the past, a judge may choose to place you in juvenile detention. You may be placed under house arrest, ordered to spend time with a court-appointed guardian, or assigned to a juvenile detention center. These are all forms of detention that a judge can use to punish juvenile drug offenders.  

Detention is often looked at as a last resort, with the number of juveniles assigned to detention in Canada falling from 29% in 2000/2001 to 16% in 2010/2011. 

Understanding the types of penalties associated with juvenile drug arrests can help you know what to expect when you appear in court. Your drug charges could result in diversion if you are a first-time offender, detention if you have multiple drug charges, or drug counseling if you need help overcoming an addiction. Contact a local criminal defence lawyer, such as one from Sicotte & Henry, for further assistance.