As a juvenile criminal lawyer in Jacksonville, I have defended children and teenagers arrested for a variety of Florida drug charges. In some cases, the children were caught in possession of marijuana in Jacksonville. Some of them were not guilty of the offense. Others experimented with the drug. Others gave into peer pressure. I have also represented teenagers on Jacksonville juvenile delinquent cases for felony drug charges. While possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor in Florida, possession of 20 grams or more is a felony. It is also a felony to possess cocaine or certain controlled substances in Jacksonville. In some cases, teenagers may become addicted to these drugs, and it may lead to other criminal charges. For instance, if a child has a drug addiction, he or she may steal in order to support the addiction. This could lead to a Jacksonville grand theft arrest. I have also seen cases were teens and young adults sell drugs in order to support a drug addition. In essence, a good kid ends up with a bad Florida criminal record due to a drug problem.
Just because a child is arrested, it does not mean that he or she is a bad kid. Children, teenagers, and young adults tend to act on impulse. They are more likely to try something without thinking about the consequences. If drugs are readily available and “all of their friends are doing it,” teenagers more likely to try them. What about social media? Does this have an affect on teenagers and drug use? Perhaps. A local Jacksonville news station reported a story showing how high-school students are obtaining drugs via social media. News4jax.com reported:
“Illegal drugs, nearly any variety, are for sale on social media sites like Instagram, and they are not hard to find. And parents beware: Kids already know how to find what they want. Instagram, a photo-based social media platform, allows users to maintain a certain degree of anonymity, which appears to attract drug dealers who advertise their goods with full color photos. Certain hashtags, or search keywords, allow kids to easily find what they are looking for. ‘Marijuana, Xanax, Coke, Serequil, Serenity,’ listed off a 17-year-old former drug user, who we are not identifying. He said he got his drugs the same way a lot of young people do: With a cellphone and a social media account, he had direct access to a drug dealer…. Social media sites, especially photo-oriented Instagram, have become incredibly effective tools for advertising illegal drugs with hashtags that can change daily…. An Instagram user can display photos of what’s offered like marijuana, Xanax pills and other drugs.”
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is aware of this and is monitoring websites, but due to the nature of the Internet, it is hard to track. Indeed, “Law enforcement admits it’s happening right under our noses.” Channel 4 News showed how easy it was to find drugs in Duval County using Instagram. “We did a search on Instagram and found what appeared to be a Jacksonville man blatantly selling drugs. We then found what appeared to be a local teen trying to buy. The first post, ‘I’m in the Duval area, can you spot me a couple nugs…?’ The response, ‘Which side you live on homie’ Then the follow-up response, ‘Wes side doe.’”
While it may be hard for police to track these drug transactions, it does not make it impossible. I would not be surprised if an undercover operation was already in the works. If a person is taken into custody due to the police having a suspicion that he or she has been involved in one of these transactions, it is important for that person to know he or she has rights. You do not need to speak with the detective. If you are not under arrest, you are free to leave. If you are under arrest, you have the right to an attorney. There is nothing wrong with asking to speak to a Jacksonville criminal lawyer before you answer questions. The same is true for a child.