Marijuana use by individuals under the age of 21 continues to be a significant issue across the state of Pennsylvania. According to a study by the State Epidemiological Outcomes Workgroup in 2020, approximately one out of every six high school-aged juveniles in Pennsylvania reported marijuana use.

Unfortunately, their lives could change when youth are charged with or convicted of marijuana-related offenses. A guilty verdict could be devastating for your child’s future.

Pennsylvania’s Marijuana Laws

The Pennsylvania Drug Device and Cosmetic Act classifies marijuana as a schedule one drug. This means it has no accepted medical use and a high likelihood of abuse and addiction. While many other states have now legalized marijuana for recreational purposes, the same cannot be said for the commonwealth. Medical marijuana has only been legalized in Pennsylvania since 2016.

Minors who are charged with possession of marijuana could face severe penalties. Juveniles suspected of driving under the influence of marijuana, accused of using marijuana at a party, or stopped by police while out with friends could be at risk for significant legal ramifications. Some of these could include:

  • Probation including requirements that they attend school, maintain a curfew, obtain a job, or complete community service hours
  • Attend mental health counseling or group therapy
  • Attend or complete drug treatment or a rehabilitation program
  • Completion of a pretrial diversion program
  • Home confinement
  • Placement in a juvenile detention facility
  • Placement in a foster home

The Impact of An Underage Drug Use Conviction

If a juvenile is found guilty of a marijuana possession charge, their lives could be affected. Suppose your child is forced to spend time in a juvenile detention facility. In that case, you may notice considerable personality changes, and your child may be at a greater risk of being lost to the system.

If your child is released to your custody or placed in home confinement, they will still have a criminal record that will haunt them unless they seal their record or it’s expunged later. This could harm your child’s ability to qualify for federal student loans, obtain gainful employment, and secure affordable housing in the future.

Getting Your Child Out of Jail or Recovering a Vehicle

According to Pennsylvania law, juveniles should not need to go through a bail bonds process. Minors considered non-violent will often be released to their parent’s custody. Those who may threaten the public can be placed in home detention, ordered to remain in a foster home, or confined to a juvenile detention center. Alternatively, if your child is facing charges in adult court, they may need bail.

If your child was taken into police custody while driving, their vehicle would likely be impounded. You will need to reach out to the law enforcement officers in your case to determine where your vehicle was towed. You can expect to pay the tow company a fee to get your vehicle released.

What Is the Defense Process?

If your child has been detained for possession of marijuana, they will either be placed in a juvenile detention facility or released to the care of their parent or guardian according to 42 Pa.C.S.§ 6325.

As soon as you learn that your child has been detained, it is vital that you contact a juvenile defense attorney for help as quickly as possible. This way, you will be ready for their adjudicatory or disposition hearing.

At the disposition hearing, the judge will determine whether community service, deferred adjudication, probation, fines, or placement in a detention facility is appropriate. Alternatively, the judge has the authority to release your child to your custody with a stipulation that they adhere to specific requirements outlined in the judge’s sentence.

Since the consequences of a conviction are so severe, you must retain a juvenile defense attorney to work with the prosecutor in your child’s case. Working with the state to obtain a plea agreement or get your child entered into a pretrial diversion program will almost certainly be preferable to time in a detention facility.

Hire a Chester County Defense Lawyer Today

If your child is facing a marijuana charge, you must take action to clear their name and protect their future. Reach out to an experienced Chester County juvenile marijuana defense lawyer at Skinner Law Firm to discuss your potential defense strategies and options.

With our firm advocating for your child’s rights, they could avoid the harsh penalties of a marijuana conviction. Our team will work tirelessly to obtain a favorable outcome in your case. Call 610-436-1410 or complete our confidential contact form to schedule your no-cost, risk-free consultation today.

Article Author

Michael J. Skinner, the founder of Skinner Law Firm LLC, is a former prosecutor with the Chester County District Attorney’s Office.

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