In Pennsylvania and many other states, school officials often call police with K9 units to conduct drug inspections. A student has a right to reasonably expect privacy. For instance, his or her backpack or other personal property is protected against unlawful search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. If a minor is facing drug charges after a police search that took place on school grounds, parents of the child will want to make sure they clearly understand their child’s rights before heading to court.
Lockers are school property on loan to students
If a child brings a back pack, lunch box or other item to school, it is personal property. School lockers, however, are the property of the school, which students may use to store their belongings. In the past, there have been cases where police searched lockers and removed substances that they believe are illegal drugs. The student then wound up facing charges but claimed that he or she had no idea that the item was in the locker that he or she was using at school.
Actual possession versus constructive possession
For parents of minors facing drug charges in Pennsylvania, it is important to understand the difference between the terms “actual possession” and “constructive possession” of illegal drugs. If a police officer has searched a child’s backpack or person, resulting in the seizure of a substance investigators claim is an illegal drug, it falls under “actual possession” laws because the item was taken from the child’s clothing or body. “Constructive possession,” on the other hand, is a term referring to items seized from property over which a minor student had control, such as a desk or locker.
Management of juvenile drug crimes differs from adults
Pennsylvania parents may take comfort in knowing that criminal court judges are often much more lenient with juveniles facing drug charges than they might be with an adult facing similar charges. Juveniles in this state are often ordered to enter a diversion program, which is an informal type of probation. It is understandable that a parent whose child has been charged with a drug crime would feel stressed and worried about the possible outcomes of the situation. Asking an experienced criminal law attorney who has provided support to juveniles in similar cases to recommend a defense strategy is a good option for concerned parents.