Teens who engage in illegal drug use jeopardize their future. Simply warning them, however, often doesn’t do much good. What ultimately cements their understanding that drugs will lead to undesirable consequences is an arrest. If your child has been arrested for drug possession in Monroe, you can take steps to boost his or her chance of being treated favorably by the courts.
Getting Involved In Your Child’s Drug Arrest
As a parent, you are understandably upset and frustrated that your child has been arrested for criminal drug possession in Louisiana. You may be concerned about what is to become of your child now that he or she has become entangled in the justice system. Rest assured that with a competent juvenile defense lawyer on your side, you can fight for the best resolution of your child’s drug case.
Drug possession is a serious offense that can lead to a whirlwind of penalties, such as steep fines and jail time. What often hurts more than completing a criminal sentence is the permanent stain on one’s reputation. A criminal conviction is the ultimate repellent for job offers, housing opportunities, and other ways to sustain and enrich one’s life.
A parent who works with a Louisiana criminal defense lawyer takes the first step in helping his or her child make the best of an unfortunate situation.Ultimately, your attorney’s primary goal should be convincing the District Attorney to accept your child into a pre-trial diversion program.
Steps to Facilitate Participation in a Pre-Trial Diversion Program
Pre-trial diversion programs exist to help nonviolent drug offenders receive treatment and reduce the odds that they will re-offend. Generally, only first-time offenders may participate in pre-trial diversion programs. As a parent, you may take steps to help your child enter a pre-trial diversion program.
- Sign your child up for rehab without being asked to by the courts. Placing your child in a rehabilitation program voluntarily shows the court that your child is being proactive about seeking treatment. Be sure to keep all documents associated with the completion of the program.
- Have your child take drug tests before the pre-trial meeting. If the pretrial meeting is six months away, try to get three negative drug test results. Negative drug test results combined with a certificate of completion of a rehabilitation program will show the DA that your child is committed to coming clean.
Meeting the District Attorney
Your attorney will help you and your child gather all the necessary evidence that shows your child taking steps to control his drug problem. He or she will arrange an appointment with the district attorney before the pre-trial conference. If the district attorney accepts the meeting, you, your child, and your lawyer will discuss your child’s rehabilitation efforts. The point of the meeting is to show the DA your child is serious about rehabilitation and to request that he or she enter a pre-trial drug program.
Completing a pre-trial diversion program the ideal way to resolve a first-time felony or misdemeanor drug offense and long-term it will cost significantly less than going to trial. Diversion programs wrap up the process more expeditiously and allows everyone to benefit. The first-time offender will receive education and rehab to prevent a drug addiction, and allow the juvenile to be placed back on the road to a successful adult life. After the charges are dismissed, the arrest can be expunged for a clean public record.
Expunging the Arrest
Completing the pre-trial diversion program will keep the drug charge off of your child’s public criminal record; however, the arrest record will remain visible to the public. The only way to reduce the collateral consequences of a juvenile arrest is to expunge the record. Criminal expungement can be a complicated and process that may not completely undo the damage of a conviction. Still, there are many advantages of having your child’s record expunged:
- Increased employment opportunities
- Eligibility for public assistance
- Eligibility for public housing
- Restoration of civil rights
Consequences of a Juvenile Delinquency Adjudication
A juvenile delinquency adjudication may lead to several short- and long-term consequences in Louisiana:
- A juvenile adjudication can lead to expulsion, which will thwart the defendant’s education.
- A juvenile adjudication for a drug offense can cause the defendant to be expelled from school for up to two years.
- The expulsion will prevent the defendant from re-enrolling in any state school without the approval of the new school board.
- Defendants under 17 who have a driver’s license will have their licenses suspended for one year if they are suspended or expelled from school, or assigned to an alternative school for 10 or more days for illegal substances.
- Juvenile defendants who receive supplemental security income (SSI) benefits will have them withheld while they are in state custody.
Drug offenders under 17 may also face repercussions that affect their entire families:
- Juveniles adjudicated of certain drug crimes may cause their entire household to be banned from public and Section 8 housing.
- A child engaged in drug abuse can be banned from public housing for up to three years, and his or her entire family could be evicted from their current public living arrangement.
- In some cases, the entire household may be permanently banned from government housing.
- Parents receiving child support payments may also see reduced payments come in if the child lives outside of the home.
- Parents may be held responsible for the defendant’s legal financial obligations if the defendant fails to pay restitution, court costs, court-appointed attorney’s fees, costs of defense, and appeals costs. These obligations do not expire upon turning 18.
Attorney Eric G. Johnson of The John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm has helped juveniles and adults enroll in pre-trial diversion programs for over 20 years in Monroe, Shreveport, Bossier City, and Ruston, Louisiana. Entrust him to aggressively advocate for your child from start to finish. Call 318-377-1555 for a free consultation or email us a description of your child’s case.