Minor Marijuana Possession
Utah prohibits the possession of marijuana, which can include constructive possession (explained below) and minor marijuana possession, that is, when a juvenile possesses or uses pot.
Possession of any amount, however small, is illegal. We have seen cases come through that involved mere crumbs left over on the floor of a car or in a baggie. So long as any amount is traceable and identifiable that is enough to make it illegal.
Juvis, Cars, and Pot
The number one place kids get caught with pot is in cars. Driving around smoking weed and wasting time (or having fun as they like to say), ultimately results in traffic violations, which can result in getting pulled over by a cop. Once a kid gets pulled over, law enforcement can develop probable cause simply by smelling marijuana. If the smell is there it gives the cop the legal authority to ask the occupants of the vehicle to get out so that the cop can search the car and all of the occupants. If he finds weed, the minor can be cited and be made to appear in juvenile court.
Constructive minor marijuana possession is different from actual possession. The test for determining if a kid was in constructive possession is “whether there was a sufficient nexus between the defendant and the drugs . . . to permit a factual inference that the defendant had the power and the intent to exercise control over the drugs or paraphernalia.” “The evidence ‘must raise a reasonable inference that the defendant was engaged in a criminal enterprise and not simply a bystander.'”
Courts apply five factors to analyze whether a there is constructive possession of drugs: (1) ownership and/or occupancy of the premises where the drugs were found; (2) incriminating statements made by the accused; (3) incriminating behavior of the accused; (4) presence of drugs in a specific area over which the accused had control, such as a closet or drawer containing the accused’s clothing or other personal effects; (5) presence of drug paraphernalia in a place over which the accused has special control.
Juveniles who are found to be liable for minor marijuana possession are made to pay a fine, do substance abuse counseling, do random drug tests, community service, and other potential creative penalties as required by the court. The best way to minimize the negative consequences of a juvi weed possession count is to hire experienced juvenile court lawyers. Call us anytime at 801.618.1334.