Illegal drug use in the United States is an ongoing problem, and sadly children and teens are no exception in the devastating statistics. Between 2016 and 2020, drug use went up by 61% among eighth-graders, and it is estimated that 50% of teenagers have misused drugs at least once. With such a prevalence among teens and young adults, the law in Louisiana sets penalties for producing, manufacturing, distributing, dispensing, or possessing controlled substances and illegal drugs regardless of age.
If your teen is facing drug charges in Louisiana, you may wonder if they will be charged as a drug trafficker for sharing drugs. At John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm, Attorney Eric G. Johnson understands the law and develops the best strategies to win your case. Continue reading to discover how a lawyer can help in a drug case and if teens can be charged with a crime for sharing drugs.
What Is Drug Trafficking?
Drug trafficking is a term used to describe higher-scale distributions of illegal drugs. It is different from drug dealing, which is considered a lesser offense. Drugs are categorized in schedules based on their authorized medical use, the propensity of addiction, and other risks. Penalties for drug trafficking are more severe than possession or distribution because it is a higher-scale crime where the individual is at the top, typically distributing large quantities.
If law enforcement finds drug traffickers, they are typically discovered with illegal drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, or other illicit narcotics. Many convictions are decided while examining the kind of drugs involved, their amounts, and the number of offenses and charges the individual faces. The most common drugs that minors and teens possess have been illicit narcotics, like marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, and LSD. Prescription drugs such as Adderall, Ritalin, and Xanax are also popular.
Can a Teen Be Charged as a Drug Trafficker in Louisiana?
Regardless of age, anyone who violates laws related to illegal drugs will face severe penalties and financial consequences. In Louisiana, you are considered a minor when you are under 18. A teenager facing charges for possessing or distributing drugs has many repercussions, just as adults do when faced with these convictions. These criminal charges are a felony, and you are subject to face the charges in juvenile drug court. With an experienced attorney, you can fight your charges and develop the best plan for restoring your record before reaching adulthood.
Minors undergo a different system through juvenile court; however, the determination of the convictions and penalties are viewed with the same elements as an adult court system. Minors caught with illicit drugs are typically given a chance to restore their record and avoid repeat offenses or felonies. The severity of penalties is determined by:
- The federal schedule classification of the drug involved
- The amount of drugs in the individual’s possession
- Any past criminal history
In a court of law, teenagers will face felony charges for distributing or sharing drugs. Even if they do not manufacture or deal drugs, possession and distribution are serious crimes. Teens may still be considered drug dealers, despite just distributing or giving away drugs. With strict laws in play, many teens have seen the repercussions of the charges they face. In more severe cases, homicide charges can be added in a felony drug case if a teen overdoses from a drug shared by another. Seeking an experienced legal attorney can help you face your charges right away and determine the best course of action for your case.
What Are the Penalties for Sharing Drugs?
The sharing of drugs falls under the umbrella of distribution. Although Louisiana juvenile court offers programs and treatment opportunities for minors, a criminal record is severe and can negatively affect your future. Depending on the drug’s class schedule and other factors, teens face severe penalties for this crime. Here are the penalties for possession and distribution based on federal drug classes:
Found in Statute 40:966, Marijuana offenses carry from one to ten years in prison with up to $5,000 in fines, with higher penalties for larger quantities. Other schedule I drugs like heroin and other narcotics carry up to six months in jail for first and second-time offenders. Depending on the amount, narcotic charges are also punishable by up to 10 years of jail time and an additional $5,000 in fines.
Penalties for possession and distribution of schedule II drugs vary based on the amount and kind of drug. Found in Statute 40:967, sentences range up to ten years and financial penalties from $5,000 up to $50,000 depending on the type of drug offense in this schedule. For possession or distribution of PCP, this charge can carry up to twenty years of imprisonment.
The maximum penalty for possession of schedule III drugs is up to five years imprisonment and $5,000 in fines. For distribution charges, the penalties found in Statute 40:968 can be up to ten years imprisonment and $15,000 in fines.
In the case of schedule IV drug offenses, found in Statute 40:969, penalties include $5,000 fines and up to five years prison time. However, crimes including Flunitrazepam are punishable by up to ten years in prison. Without a valid prescription from a doctor, the possession of this class of drugs and their distribution can also be punishable by up to $15,000 fines in addition to jail time.
Without a prescription and medical authorization for possession, an individual can face jail time and financial penalties for this class of drug offenses. Found in Statute 40:970, possession and distribution of schedule V drugs carry penalties of up to five years in prison and $5,000 in fines.
Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer Eric G. Johnson Fights Your Drug Charges in Louisiana
If you are a teen facing criminal charges for drug possession and distribution after sharing drugs, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you fight your charges. At John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm, our Louisiana legal team is eager to help you. Attorney Eric G. Johnson brings over 25 years of experience to your case, with the best legal support available. Reach out to us using our contact form or give us a call at (318) 377-1555 to schedule your free consultation.