It's a call that all parents dread – “I'm at the police station. Can you come get me?”
If your teenager faces a minor drug charge, you may be angry, scared, and disappointed. You may want to scream, but you may also want to ignore the problem or make your teen face the consequences alone. Unfortunately, your teen is now caught up in the legal system, and it's not a problem they can typically handle on their own. So, what do you do? How can you help, and how can you keep the situation from getting worse?
The most important thing you can do after the police arrest your teenager on a drug charge is to hire them an experienced criminal defense attorney. The consequences of a criminal conviction can have serious short and long-term consequences on your child.
The Rhode Island juvenile courts have several alternatives for minor offenders, including:
- Community service;
- Revocation of driving privileges;
- Substance abuse treatment; and
In 2016, the courts diverted more than 20% of juvenile cases to one of these options over a formal court hearing. The Rhode Island Family Court also administers the Juvenile Drug Court as an alternative to traditional court. The Drug Court program involves six to 12 months of intensive court supervision, drug treatment, and educational and employment services.
Even if your child is a minor, the juvenile justice system is a complex and specialized area of the law. You need an attorney who is familiar with criminal defense and the specialized rules surrounding the juvenile justice system. An experienced criminal defense attorney can explain your options and help steer the court towards rehabilitation and counseling for your teen.
While handling the legal side of your teen's drug charge is important, following up on the emotional side of your teen's drug use is just as crucial. While much of teen drug use may be experimentation and pushing parental and societal boundaries, it can also be a sign of a larger problem. To find treatment or counseling options near you, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration hotline at 1-800-662-HELP.