Certain kinds of questionable decisions seem to go hand-in-hand with teenage rebellion. Underage drinking, even drinking and driving, is a common way for teenagers to push back at social boundaries. Others may choose to experiment with drugs, in no small part because of the social taboo that comes from drug prohibition.
The changing laws in Illinois may soon change the culture of drug use and rebellion among teenagers. With the legalization of marijuana, the potential for a carefully regulated system could reduce teen access to marijuana, but that probably won’t stop teenage experimentation. Adult legalization does not mean that teens will get a free pass on drug possession, even if all they have is a little marijuana.
Teens often tend to experiment with more serious drugs as well, from cocaine to prescription pills. As a parent, you want to help your child understand the importance of accepting responsibility for their actions, but you shouldn’t let a youthful mistake totally derail their life either.
Defending against juvenile drug charges is usually your best choice
Illinois has a well-established juvenile justice program that can help keep teenagers out of jail provided that their offenses are not violent in nature. However, just because it’s possible to have a drug charge tried in juvenile court doesn’t mean that a conviction will have less of an impact on your child’s future.
Teenage drug charges can affect everything from their ability to gain admission into the college of their choice to their ability to secure financial aid to pay for school. Instead of encouraging your child to plead guilty in the hope that they will not have to deal with severe penalties, you should consider helping them develop a criminal defense strategy, potentially by retaining an attorney on their behalf.
Set an example of being responsible
As a parent, you could use this opportunity to let your child learn a difficult lesson or you could instead choose to support them and help them face it head-on. By taking control and teaching your child how to responsibly accept the consequences of their actions and work toward using the resources available to mitigate the consequences of their mistake, you will teach them important lessons about navigating the world as an adult.
Just because you don’t want your child to be saddled with a criminal record doesn’t mean you can’t have consequences in place for your teen. From taking away their license or access to a vehicle to reducing their social opportunities, you can institute penalties in the home that hold your child accountable. Perhaps having them get a part-time job or do work around the house to repay attorney costs could be part of that plan.
Whatever you do, you want to take the charges seriously and help your child figure out a way to address them directly.