Minors with Drug Possession Charges
For minors, drug possession charges of any kind – including marijuana possession – can cause havoc with educational and employment opportunities and could even lead time in a juvenile detention facility. What consequences a child will face upon conviction for Minor in Possession (MIP) charges will depend on the nature and amount of the illicit substance in his or her possession and whether there was an intent to sell or distribute the drugs in addition to just possessing them.
While marijuana possession is now legal in Colorado for individuals 21 years of age or older, anyone under 21 possessing pot is committing a crime. Specifically, a person under twenty-one years of age who possesses one ounce or less of marijuana or consumes marijuana anywhere in the state of Colorado commits illegal possession or consumption of marijuana by an underage person.
It’s not just the pot itself that will get a minor arrested. Even just having marijuana paraphernalia like a bong or pipe can lead to charges. A person under twenty-one years of age who possesses marijuana paraphernalia anywhere in the state of Colorado and knows or reasonably should know that the drug paraphernalia could be used in circumstances in violation of the laws of Colorado commits illegal possession of marijuana paraphernalia by an underage person.
Penalties for Marijuana Charges
A violation of either of these two laws is punishable by a fine up to $100 for a first conviction or a second conviction, and $500 for third and subsequent convictions. Additional penalties can include up to 36 hours of community service, a drug evaluation or assessment, and a drug education program or drug treatment program, the costs of which will have to be paid for by the minor and/or his or her parents.
Beyond penalties imposed by a judge, a minor convicted of possession can have their driver’s license revoked or suspended by the Colorado Department of Revenue. For the first conviction, the driver's license revocation will be for three months unless the minor completes a required drug education class. For the second conviction, the revocation will be for six months, and for any third or subsequent conviction, the license will be suspended for one year.
Longer-term consequences include having a conviction on the minor’s criminal record and could also lead to an administrative sanction imposed by the child’s school or college, including expulsion.
As with most juvenile crimes in Colorado, the laws and the juvenile justice system are more focused on education, prevention, and rehabilitation than they are on punishment. But that does not mean you should take minor in possession charges lightly, especially for charges that involve large amounts of drugs or are second or subsequent offenses. An experienced juvenile crimes defense lawyer can help guide families through the ordeal of juvenile drug possession charges and work to keep the consequences to a minimum so the child can move forward with their life.