There are programs in Philadelphia schools designed to keep kids off drugs. However, despite the efforts, many young people are involved with drugs. Some simply use them while others are involved in the distribution of drugs. Many of the people will get away with it and never end up being charged criminally, but many others will end up facing juvenile charges for drug possession or intent to deliver. The consequences, if convicted, can be serious, but a juvenile like an adult is innocent until proven guilty.
Two juveniles were recently charged as a part of a large drug ring targeting suburban Philadelphia high schools. The alleged drug ring leaders were adults who had graduated from the high schools, but they allegedly had people currently enrolled in the high schools helping them distribute marijuana and other drugs. It is unclear what the juveniles were charged with, but they were among eight people charged as allegedly being a part of the operation.
While it appears only people allegedly distributing the drugs were arrested, many other juveniles most likely bought marijuana and could have been charged with drug possession. If a juvenile is convicted even for possession, it can have very serious consequences for juveniles. The penalties for juveniles are a little different than for adults and the goal of the punishment is rehabilitation, but they are still serious. The juveniles will have to put the fact that they were convicted on school and job applications, which could have long-term, detrimental consequences for the juveniles.
There are defenses available for these charges though. Most defenses start with whether the police legally stopped or searched the juvenile. If the stop or search was illegal, any drugs found may be suppressed. Without evidence of drugs, a conviction would be unlikely.
Many juveniles in Philadelphia are charged with drug offenses every year. The consequences, if convicted, are serious, but there may be defenses available. Understanding these legal defenses can be very important in helping to protect a juvenile's rights.
Source: CNN, "Authorities: Drug ring targeting top suburban Philly schools busted," Greg Botelho, April 23, 2014