Selling pot behind the school is undoubtedly still happening, but nowadays the drug crimes among teens often involve something seemingly much less sinister: Kids are selling their prescription medications to friends and fellow classmates. This scenario is unlikely to be the subject of an after-school special, but it is just as likely to land them in hot water with authorities.
Why Are Teens Taking Medication?
Children are no longer simply prescribed an antibiotic for an occasional infection. Today, many are being treated for chronic conditions that are interfering with their ability to go to school and successfully function in the world. Prescribed medications are often used to ease the symptoms of a mental health condition.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 6% of U.S. youth ages 12 to 19 reported taking psychotropic drugs with almost 2% taking two or more prescriptions.
Some diagnoses that lead to prescription use include:
- Eating Disorders
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
The more commonly prescribed medications are:
- Adderall (improve focus and reduce impulsivity)
- Ativan (helps with panic attacks, agitation, and restlessness)
- Concerta (like Adderall but is long-acting while Adderall is an immediate-release form)
- Focalin XR (increases concentration and decreases hyperactivity)
- Ritalin (ADHD medication that is short-lived in the body, only staying active for 2-3 hours)
- Zoloft (can reduce compulsions of repeated tasks, unwanted thoughts, and fears)
Consequences of Selling Prescription Drugs
Federal law is straightforward: It is illegal for anyone to sell or give their prescribed medications to another person.
The penalties for drug crimes range depending on the drug type. Adderall and other “study drugs” that are amphetamines are classified as Schedule B drugs in Massachusetts, right along with LSD, PCP, methamphetamines, and cocaine. Classification is based on the drug’s potential for abuse and dependence. The higher the schedule, the more dangerous the drug, and the stiffer the associated penalties.
For adults, selling drugs like Adderall and Ritalin is a felony that can get offenders up to 10 years in jail, which is elevated to a mandatory minimum 3-year sentence if you are selling to a minor, even for a first-time offense.
When the alleged offender is a juvenile, there can be substantial consequences as well. Those as young as 12 may be required to appear in juvenile court. Those between the ages of 15 and 17 can be charged and tried as adults, depending on the crime.
Any crime that exists under Massachusetts law (except for murder) can be charged as a delinquency against a child between the ages of 7 and 17.
A court officer will be assigned to the case that remains under the purview of the juvenile justice system. They will then determine whether to file charges, handle the matter off the record, or drop the case. Sentences can range from commitment to the Department of Youth Services and juvenile probation to counseling and diversion programs. Sentences are not one-size-fits-all and are tailored to the specifics of the offense.
Beyond any possible sentence, a drug charge can damage your child’s reputation among their friends, classmates, and others in the community. Youth offenses can also have a lasting impact on future educational and employment opportunities as well as housing applications.
How a Parent Can Help Their Child
George Washington has been attributed to saying, “The best offense is a good defense.” That adage holds true in these cases. If your child faces a delinquency charge related to selling prescription medications, contact one of our award-winning lawyers at Brad Bailey Law.
We will strategically defend your child and work toward protecting their future.
If your child is in legal jeopardy, we can help. Contact Brad Bailey Law at (617) 500-0252 or by using our online form.