Teenage girl in cuffsThis is the next post in my series on the handling of juvenile offenses in Panama City, Florida. My last article discussed what parents may expect from the Juvenile Court process. It is important to understand that this process resembles the adult system in many ways. A youth will be given the opportunity to defend themselves and they will face potential incarceration if they are found to have committed the offense. Families should retain an experienced criminal defense attorney to help ensure that they mount a proper defense. In this article I will discuss a subject that, unfortunately, is too common – defending against charges which involve drugs. If your son or daughter has been arrested then contact my office to speak with an attorney.

Panama City police may have violated a juvenile’s rights and found drugs as a result

One of the most common reasons for which children are arrested is the possession of drugs. Such narcotics may include marijuana, methamphetamine, prescription pills, and more. As with all drug charges, such substances are sometimes found through law enforcement’s violation of a child’s constitutional rights. If it shown that law enforcement violated the child’s Fourth or Fifth Amendment rights, and narcotics were found as a result, then it may be possible to have the charges dismissed. Whether a dismissal can be gained would depend on whether the youth is facing other charges besides the narcotics offense.

The above concept is best explained through an example. Say a Panama City officer sees a youth simply walking through a neighborhood. There is nothing about the youth which would suggest criminal activity or gang affiliation. Now say that the officer orders the youth to stop and searches the child. Drugs are found and the youth is arrested. Under Terry v. Ohio, this would almost certainly be considered a violation of the Fourth Amendment and the drugs would be ruled inadmissible in Court. This would lead to a dismissal of any drug-based allegations against the child.

It is vital to understand that no two cases are the same. How the Court will rule in any given circumstance is always going to be dependent on the facts of the situation. It is, therefore, best to discuss your situation with an attorney as soon as possible.

Panama City juveniles may receive probation for a drug related charge

A family will still have options for drug-related cases even if there are no search and seizure issues present. First, there may be other options for defending the charge. Second, if it is necessary to enter into a plea agreement then it is common for children to receive probation for non-violent first time offenses. This is especially true in juvenile matters as the goal of the system is to put children “on the right path.” With that being said, it is important that you retain an attorney who is experienced in dealing with prosecutors.

Contact my office today to speak with a Panama City juvenile defense lawyer. I pride myself on providing quality service and my office is ready to assist you. I also serve clients in the Bay County cities of Callaway, Lynn Haven, and Panama City Beach as well as Calhoun County residents in Blountstown, Holmes County residents in Bonifay, Gulf County residents in Port St. Joe, Okaloosa County residents in Destin, Jackson County residents in Marianna, Leon County residents in Tallahassee, Walton County residents in DeFuniak Springs and Miramar Beach, Liberty County residents in Bristol, Wakulla County residents in Crawfordville, Gadsden County residents in Quincy, and Washington County residents in Chipley.