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If your child was caught with weed, the punishment may exceed the crime

Since Colorado legalized marijuana, laws and attitudes have loosened across the country. A common mantra is that it's a harmless drug and a lesser crime-which, here in the state of Texas, is not the case. Regardless of word on the streets, marijuana is a controlled substance with its own penalty grouping under Texas law. Sentencing for marijuana possession varies widely depending on an offender's record and the amount he or she was carrying, but many first-time offenders can keep their record clean.

There are diversion programs that can help offenders avoid a charge, but it takes an expert to navigate through the legal channels. Whether a misdemeanor or felony, a conviction will be on your child's record and can affect their future employment and college plans. Plus, any drug conviction in Texas results in the 6-month suspension of your driver's license.

Talking to your teens

A lawyer can help get your child out of trouble, but it starts with a heart to heart conversation in the home.

Experts today suggest a reality-based approach that focuses on the facts of drug use, laying out scenarios, dangers and complications instead of the scare tactics of yesterday's prevention programs. Emphasizing statistics of use among teenagers can reduce the peer pressure element, and information about proper medical use can relay that, although pot is sometimes used by prescription, there are limits and special factors that make that okay. Use of non-prescribed medications is always a crime, the same as with oxycodone, Xanax or Ritalin.

Many teenagers abuse drugs as a coping mechanism for another psychological issue, such as anxiety or depression, and addressing cause factors in your child's drug use is especially important.

Legal options

Drug treatment and counseling programs are often included in diversion programs, along with community service time. Depending what was in possession, and your teen's history, it's possible to have charges wiped away by completing a rehabilitative process instead of paying fines or even serving time.

With marijuana use popularized in media and downplayed in other states, it's important to remember that each state has its own rules and punishments. While marijuana is a closely controlled drug in Texas, there are alternatives to a criminal record if your child was caught in the act.

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R. Todd Bennett, P.C.
1545 Heights Blvd. Suite 600
Houston, TX 77008

Phone: 713-752-2728 | Fax: 713-650-1602
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