As the U.S. fights its war on drugs, more and more states are enacting harsher penalties against those who distribute drugs throughout their communities. Since drug offenses are considered extremely serious by most jurisdictions across the country, police and prosecutors work especially hard to not only find those involved in illegal drug activity, but also bring the most severe penalties possible against them. While there are many drug offenses that are serious, one that the courts especially frown upon is using a child to commit a controlled substance offense. If you find yourself facing this charge, the legal consequences could be very severe, and could include many years in prison. Whenever faced with this situation, always hire the services of an experienced drug crimes lawyer to help you navigate the criminal justice system.
Why These Charges are So Serious
Along with the fact that illegal drugs are being sold to others, prosecutors consider any drug offenses involving children to be serious for many reasons. Due to illegal drugs being viewed as a public health hazard, officials always emphasize the physical and emotional damage that can be done to children who are involved in these matters. In addition, experts point to the possibility that putting children in these situations could set the stage for them to become involved in other criminal activity as they age. Due to these potential ramifications, prosecutors will do all they can to ensure you face the most severe consequences allowed under law. Therefore, never take these charges lightly. Instead, consult with attorneys who know the criminal justice system and the various strategies that can be used in these cases.
Who is Considered a Child in These Situations?
According to the state Penal Code of New York, any person under the age of 17 who is used to commit a controlled substance offense is considered to be a child. As stated by the Penal Code, if you are at least 18 years old, conceal a controlled substance on the child’s body to complete a sale, or in any way direct, force, or require a child to sell the drugs themselves or help an adult in doing so, you will be charged with using a child to commit a controlled substance offense. Based on New York law, this is considered a Class E felony, and is punishable by up to four years in prison and fines not exceeding $5,000.
While you will be in enough trouble with the drug charges you may be facing, there will also likely be additional charges brought against you by prosecutors. In most instances, these will be child endangerment charges, since you will have put the child used in the alleged drug transaction at risk of personal harm or death. If you are facing this situation, expect no leniency whatsoever from police, prosecutors, or the courts. To have a fighting chance of having these charges reduced or possibly dismissed, work closely with a skilled defense attorney who can negotiate on your behalf.
Prior Drug Convictions
If you have prior drug convictions in your past, expect these to have a significant impact on your current case. Due to these charges not being allowed to be expunged from your criminal record, prosecutors will use your past convictions to push the courts to levy the most severe penalties possible against you. Thus, you will have a better chance of facing lesser charges if this is your first drug offense. Nevertheless, since these cases are always complex and involve one person’s word against that of another individual, an experienced defense attorney can examine various statements and other evidence to develop a legal strategy most beneficial to your case. Even if your situation appears dire, your attorney may still be able to get the charges against you reduced or dismissed. Therefore, use good judgment along the way and say as little as possible to authorities while your attorney pursues your case.
Protecting Your Rights
If authorities believe you were using a child to commit a controlled substance offense, they will immediately vilify you as a person who is a threat to children and society in general. In doing so, they will attempt to ruin your reputation and make you nervous and scared enough to give them various details of what may have occurred. If you panic and give in to them, you will incriminate yourself and play right into their hands. Rather than let this happen and ruin your chances of having these serious charges reduced or dismissed, work with an attorney who will fight hard to protect each and every one of your legal rights.
If authorities have charged you with this serious crime, do not procrastinate. Instead, immediately schedule a consultation with an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney who specializes in drug cases.