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During adolescence, teen years and young adulthood, the human brain is still developing. Because it has not finished forming, teenagers and even college-age adults may not have the same cognitive abilities as someone only a few years older than they are.

Young adults are notoriously bad at considering long-term risks for their decisions. That can mean engaging in dangerous or risky behavior. Most of the time, questionable decisions made in a moment of youthful frivolity will end up being nothing more than a ridiculous story your own children doubt happened when they grow up.

However, for some unfortunate individuals, poor youthful decisions result in criminal charges and consequences. Some of the most dangerous and damaging criminal charges you could face as a young adult or teenager relate to drug possession or use.

Pleading Guilty Doesn’t Always Protect You

You are probably eager to put this whole issue behind you. If the prosecutor comes to you and offers a plea bargain with no jail time, it may seem like the answer to your prayers. Before you jump on that plea bargain, however, there are many things to consider.

First of all, employers and others who look at your criminal record will have the legal right to assume you were guilty of the initial charge, even if you plead to a lesser offense. That could mean that even though you avoided jail time, you have a difficult time finding a place to live or a good job as you get older.

If your plea bargain involves a drug offense as the final charge, there are other consequences that you may not even realize at the time that you agree to the deal.

Even the Most Minor Drug Conviction Could Keep You Out of College Forever

Although marijuana isn’t legal yet in Wisconsin, it is now legal in 11 states, including the neighboring states of Illinois and Michigan. It might seem reasonable to young adults to experiment with drugs under the assumption that the consequences won’t be any more serious than what they might have if they get caught drinking alcohol.

Unfortunately, that is not the case. There is a federal rule on the books that prohibits students with any kind of drug conviction from ever getting federal student aid. That means grants, scholarships and even subsidized loans will not be accessible to you if you plead guilty or get convicted of even the most minor possession offense.

You might also lose out on private scholarships, which often have morality or behavioral clauses that allow for the removal of the scholarship in the event that you get convicted of a crime. Sometimes, the school could even expel you from classes because of a conviction, depending on where you go.

Drug offenses are serious, especially if you haven’t finished your education yet or started your career. You don’t want to wind up making another mistake that costs you even more in the future than your initial arrest already has. Sitting down to talk with an experienced Wisconsin criminal defense attorney can help you figure out if there is a strategy to protect your future from these very serious allegations.