An Austin juvenile drug charge can involve numerous drugs, chemicals, and medications controlled by Texas laws and federal laws. A person who owns or possess a controlled substance without a legally justified reason can be charged with possession of drugs. A juvenile can be charged with drug possession if a person under the age of 18 knowingly controls a regulated drug or substance without a legal reason.
Possession is defined as having actual care, custody, control, or management.1A juvenile who knowingly and without legal justification possesses a controlled or illegal substance can be charged with juvenile drug possession. It is most common for juveniles to be charged with this crime because they possess marijuana, methamphetamine, or other similar illegal drugs. However, a juvenile who possesses prescription drugs that are not prescribed to them can also be charged with possession of a controlled substance.
An Austin juvenile drug charge requires the juvenile to knowingly possess or control the prohibited substance. This does not mean that by saying “I didn’t know there was marijuana in my backpack” you will avoid a drug possession charge. Circumstantial evidence can be used during a trial to prove you knew the marijuana was in your backpack.
Having illegal drugs in your hand or on your body is not a requirement for an Austin juvenile drug charge. It is enough for the prosecutor to prove that the juvenile had control over the area where the drugs were found. This means, if a juvenile gets pulled over in his or her car, and drugs are found in the truck of the vehicle or in the glove box, this is enough to satisfy the element of control for a drug possession charge. A juvenile can also be charged with drug possession if drugs are found in their locker at school, or in their room at home, as both can be considered areas where the juvenile has control.
Possession of Edibles in Texas.
Marijuana is illegal in Texas. Marijuana, which originally was smoked, now is being ingested in numerous ways in numerous forms. The ways in which people ingest marijuana have changed over time, but the laws in Texas and the punishments have not changed.
A juvenile possessing less than one gram of Marijuana is a Class B Misdemeanor. A juvenile possessing less than a gram of THC (for instance in a vape pen or in an edible) is a state jail felony.
Possession of Marijuana in Texas
If you are arrested with drugs in your possession, the amount you have on you will determine the level and severity of the charge. If you are arrested with two ounces or less of marijuana, that is a Class B Misdemeanor.2 If you are arrested with more than four ounces of marijuana, you can be charged with a felony.3 The punishment for possession of marijuana in Texas is harsh, but it does not come close to the punishment for possession of THC edibles in Texas.
Possession of THC Edibles in Texas
Possession of a food or beverage infused with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive found in marijuana, is punished completely different than marijuana in plant form. THC infused edibles are classified as possession of a controlled substance, not possession of marijuana.4
Pursuant to the Texas Health and Safety Code, THC found in an edible is classified under Penalty Group 2 of the Controlled Substance Act.5 What this means is the total weight of the edible will be used to determine how the charge is classified. There are four schedules based on the weight of the THC you are in possession of.
When you are arrested, they do not separate the THC from the food or beverage it is infused in to determine how much THC is in the edible. The entire edible will be weighed to determine the classification of the charge. This means, if the edible you possessed contained only one gram of THC, they will weigh the entire edible to determine what level of a felony you will be charged with.
Possession of THC Oil Vape Pen in Texas
Similar to the laws for THC edibles, possession of THC oil in a vape pen is a felony charge. A vape pen is a type of vaporizer which is designed to vaporize cannabis distillates and oils. The name comes from their design resembles a pen. The entire pen will be weighed to determine what level of felony you will be charged with, even if there is only a small amount left in the vape pen at the time of arrest.
Possession of CBD Oil in Texas
Stores selling cannabidiol (CBD) are popping up around Texas. CBD oil is “the non-intoxicating marijuana extract.”6 How does CBD differ from marijuana?
“It is the second most prevalent of the active ingredients of cannabis (marijuana). While CBD is an essential component of medical marijuana, it is derived directly from the hemp plant, which is a cousin of the marijuana plant. While CBD is a component of marijuana (one of hundreds), by itself it does not cause a ‘high.’ According to a report from the World Health Organization, ‘In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.’”7
CBD stores make claims such as their CBD oil contains little to no THC. Although Texas allows the possession and use of non-THC CBD oil, if you are stopped and you are in possession of CBD there is a chance police will send the substance off for testing. If the CBD oil tests positive for THC, you will be facing felony criminal charges.
A juvenile charged with drug possession will go through the juvenile court system, unlike adults whose cases are handled by a regular trial court. Juvenile courts have more options than adult courts when dealing with juveniles charged with possession of a controlled substance. Possession of a controlled substance is a crime in all states and can lead to very harsh penalties for juveniles.
A few options juvenile courts have for dealing with juvenile drug possession charges include drug counseling, probation, diversion, and detention.
If a juvenile court orders drug counseling, they are focusing on rehabilitation for the juvenile. A juvenile court has the ability to order the juvenile charged with possession of drugs, as well as the juvenile’s parents or guardians, to attend drug counseling classes.
If a juvenile is placed on probation, their travel and freedom are restricted, however, they are not held within a facility. Probation may also include mandated programs like therapy, community service, daily curfew, and counseling.
Probation lasts for an unspecified period of time. Once the juvenile probation officer notifies the court that the offender has met all of the demands placed upon them or turned 18, the Court can release them from their obligation.
One key difference between juvenile probation and adult probation is a juvenile may be placed on probation for any offense, including capital murder which carries a possible sentence of 10 years or less. Additionally, a prior felony juvenile adjudication history does not prevent a juvenile from being eligible for probation, where for an adult a prior felony conviction would prevent them from being eligible.
Diversion, an informal probation, is also a common option for juvenile courts to impose. Diversion is also known as pretrial diversion. Similar to juvenile probation, the juvenile must comply with everything the court orders. One main difference between probation and diversion is a juvenile on diversion complies with the diversion orders without having to go before the juvenile court. Once the juvenile completes the required diversion program, the charges are dismissed. It is important to note that not all jurisdictions have a juvenile diversion program, and diversion is usually only available for first-time offenders.
Detention is the most restrictive option for a juvenile court. If a court orders detention, the juvenile may be placed in a juvenile detention center, in a juvenile home, with a foster family or guardian, or the juvenile may be confined to their home. Detention for drug possession charges is not common unless the juvenile is a repeat offender, or if the drug possession occurred during the commission of a felony or violent crime.
If you or a loved one has been charged with an Austin juvenile drug charge, juvenile with possession of marijuana or possession of a controlled substance, you may be facing serious felony charges. Call an experienced juvenile criminal defense attorney. The Law Office of Rick Cofer is available to help and can review your case. Call us today at (512) 200-3801 or contact us through our online form for help and to learn more.