Can your kid go to jail for drug possession?

On Behalf of | Sep 6, 2023 | Drug Crimes

The challenge of drug abuse among teenagers is an important concern. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in Wisconsin estimates that almost 40,000 adolescents use drugs each year. If you are a parent or guardian, the fear that your teenager might become entangled in drug-related issues is palpable.

The anxiety amplifies when you think about potential legal repercussions, especially if the police arrest your teen. You may wonder if your teen will go to jail if the police arrest them for drug possession.

Drug possession charges

In Wisconsin, drug possession laws can be stringent. The penalties depend on the type and amount of the drug in possession. For instance, marijuana, though decriminalized in some states, remains illegal for recreational use in Wisconsin. If the police arrest your teen for possession of a small amount of marijuana, it is typically classified as a misdemeanor, which may lead to fines rather than jail time for first-time offenders.

Diversion programs

Wisconsin recognizes the importance of rehabilitation over punishment, especially for young individuals. For first-time offenders, there are diversion programs available that aim to educate and rehabilitate rather than incarcerate. These programs often require the teenager to attend educational sessions about drugs, perform community service and undergo regular drug testing. If your teen completes the program successfully, the courts often dismiss the charges, ensuring no criminal record.

Repeated offenses

While first-time offenses might lead to more lenient penalties, repeated drug possession arrests can result in more severe consequences. Subsequent offenses can escalate from misdemeanors to felonies, carrying heavier fines and potential jail time.

The role of age in sentencing

The age of the teenager plays an important role in the legal process. In most cases, if your teen is under 17 and the police arrest them for drug possession, the juvenile justice system will likely process them, which focuses more on rehabilitation than punishment. However, if they are 17 or older, they could face the adult court system, where penalties can be harsher.

While Wisconsin takes drug possession seriously, the state also understands the importance of guiding young individuals toward a better path. If your teenager faces arrest for drug possession, it is not an automatic ticket to jail. However, it is important to address the underlying issues that led to drug use and ensure that your teenager receives the support and guidance they need.

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