Being charged with possession can have a huge impact on anyone’s life. In some ways, it’s even more devastating when the accused is a minor.
In this article, we’re looking at how possession charges affect minors in the state of Georgia.
Defining “Possession Charges” and “Minors or Juveniles”
In the state of Georgia, you are treated as an adult if you are one day over the age of 17. Any persons under the age of 17 will be classified as a “juvenile” in the state of Georgia.
“Possession charges” are filed against someone found to be in possession of one or more illegal substances.
For minors, this typically means being caught in possession of alcohol as they’re under the drinking age. Or in the possession of drugs and other illegal substances.
This means anyone under the age of 17 caught in possession of illegal or controlled substances will be charged as a minor or juvenile. Minors are treated differently from adults under Georgia law, as we’ll explain in more detail in this article.
Penalties for Minors Caught in Possession in Georgia
The sad reality is that the availability and use of drugs and alcohol are high among minors.
In fact, it’s estimated that around 20% of high school students have either been given, offered, or sold drugs in the past year.
Furthermore, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states that by the age of 15, about 30% of minors will have had a drink. With this number rising to 58% by the time someone is 18 years of age.
Penalties for possession charges also called “minor in possession” (MIP) in Georgia as set out as follows:
For a first offense, a minor charged with possession faces:
- Fines of up to $300
- Up to six months in jail
- Driver’s license suspension for six months
There are potentially harsher charges depending on the specific drug and the amount a minor is caught in possession of.
For example, possession of marijuana is a criminal offense that is still heavily punished in Georgia. If a minor is caught with more than one ounce of marijuana in their possession, they face a prison sentence of between 1-10 years.
Second and Subsequent Offense
For a second offense, a minor charged with possession faces:
- Fines of up to $1,000
- Up to one year in jail
- Driver’s license suspension for one year
In addition to these penalties, a judge can order an offender to complete a drug or alcohol education program within 120 days of their conviction.
How a Possession Charge Can Change the Life of a Minor
There is often a misconception that when a juvenile turns 18, their juvenile record disappears.
This is often not the case. A criminal record, regardless of what age a person was at the time of conviction, can follow them around for life.
Long after the penalties above have been expired, having a possession charge on your record can cause you some of the following difficulties:
- It can prevent you from applying for financial aid to assist with college tuition.
- It can also affect your ability to be accepted into certain colleges and universities.
- If you’re in college at the time of your conviction, you may be suspended or expelled.
- It can impede your eligibility to enter certain professions, such as joining the military or navy forces.
There is also, somewhat unfairly, a stigma attached to having a criminal record. While we don’t see this as fair or just, it’s just a fact.
Where you’re filling out paperwork that asks you to state if you’ve ever been charged with a crime, you’ll have to list your MIP charge.
Why It’s Important To Have Proper Legal Representation
Now you understand the implications of how possession charges affect minors. You can see being charged with possession as a minor is a serious situation to find yourself in.
The criminal justice system and laws relating to minors are complex and hard to navigate. Without the aid of an attorney experienced in the juvenile legal system, you face being handed down harsher penalties than you see.
As explained above, having a possession charge on your record can follow you for life. It can make routine day-to-day tasks like applying for jobs or credit more challenging.
Arora Law, we have a team of defense attorneys experienced in representing minors facing possession charges.
We will fight for you to get your charges thrown out to avoid having a criminal record and minimize the punishment handed down to you. For legal advice, call our office at Arora Law today at (404) 609-4664 or contact us here to find out how we can help.