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Juvenile Alcohol & Drug-Related Crimes

Juvenile Alcohol & Drug-Related Crimes

Several drugs, chemicals, and medication are controlled by various federal and state laws. Any individual who is found to possess any controlled substances illegally could be charged with possession along with other drug-related crimes. Juvenile alcohol and drug crimes occur when an individual who is under the age of 21 years willfully controls or possesses regulated drugs illegally. 

Adult offenders have their cases handled in a regular criminal court. However, California also has a separate process for juvenile offenders, where cases can be handled informally or formally in the Juvenile Court System.

Common Juvenile Drug Offenses

1. Drug & Marijuana possession

Drug possession remains the most common drug offense among both adult and juvenile offenders. While California may have legalized the possession of marijuana for persons over 21 years, it still remains a crime for minors to possess any amount of marijuana. In addition, the possession of the following controlled substances remains illegal for minors and adults; Meth, Heroin, Cocaine, Ecstacy, PCP, and LCD.

Drug possession of controlled substances could mean charges for juvenile delinquency, which could lead to delinquency proceedings in a California Juvenile Court.

2. Sale or Possession for Sale of Drugs

Juveniles often find themselves associating with drug dealers with the promise of earning extra money. These drug dealers eventually go on to recruit minors who can transport their drugs for them. When minors are involved in drug trafficking operations, they may be engaging in a number of illegal activities, including transporting, selling, or administering a controlled substance. Juveniles may even face drug trafficking charges for simply offering to do any of the above. Additionally, it’s important to note that drug trafficking charges not only apply to street drugs but prescription drugs like Vicodin, Xanax, or Valium.

Common Juvenile Alcohol Offenses

California also has many underage drinking laws that generally make it illegal to possess or consume alcohol if you are under 21 years of age. These specific laws include:

1. Possession of alcohol 

Business Professions Code 25662 makes it a crime for anyone below 21 years old to possess alcohol in a public place. Based on this legal logic, it is not illegal for minors to possess alcoholic beverages in his/her home. 

A first offense is an infraction that results in a $250 fine or 32 hours of community service. Subsequent offenses may result in criminal fines of up to $500 or 48 hours of community service. Additionally, defendants will have their licenses suspended for a year. 

2. Underage DUI

California has a Zero Tolerance Policy for underage drivers who drink any amount of alcohol. The standard BAC limit for adult motorists is 0.08%, but if a minor is caught drinking and driving with a BAC of 0.01% or more, he/she can be charged for an infraction. The severity of underage drinking and driving also increases with the BAC level at the time of the arrest. 

For a BAC of 0.05% or higher, a conviction of this type can result in one year of license suspension, a fine of up to $300, and mandatory DUI classes. A BAC level of 0.08% could lead to standard DUI charges that could lead to possible jail time, among other consequences.

3. Open container laws

It is also illegal for a minor to be in possession of an open container of alcohol, except under certain conditions. For instance, if a parent or guardian accompanies the minor, or if he/she is under instructions to transport by an employer, a parent, or a guardian.

Minor in Possession

Minor in Possession (MIP) is an alcohol offense that prohibits persons under 21 years of age from possessing alcohol in public. This offense is a misdemeanor which can result in 32 hours of community service and a fine of up to $250.

Public Intoxication

Public intoxication is a crime that applies to both adults and minors. Under Penal Code 647(f), it is illegal for anyone to be intoxicated from drugs or alcohol in public, where the intoxication:

prevents the individual from exercising care of his/her safety or the safety of others

causes the individual to obstruct roads and other public ways

This offense is a misdemeanor which is punishable by a maximum of six months in county jail and up to $1,000 in criminal fines.

Fake ID Violation

California Penal Code 470 b makes it illegal to possess or display a fake ID with the intent to deceive someone. Violating PC 470(b) is a wobbler offense, where prosecutors may pursue either felony or misdemeanor charges. The maximum sentence for a fake ID violation is three years in jail or prison and up to $10,000 in criminal fines.

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