This week in court, a 19 year old facing a felony drug case characterized the criminal allegations and the corresponding suspension from his university as a “bump in the road.” His life had been on hold for six months while the criminal case was pending. He had been kicked out of college and was back living with his family. The tuition and dorm fees secured by parental personal loans had been forfeited. A 28 day residential drug treatment, paid for by his parents and their health insurance had been completed last year but the defendant had continued to smoke marijuana. As the defendant spoke, it was apparent that he alone failed to appreciate the severity of his situation.

To all Millennials: if you find yourself facing a felony charge, here are some tips:

1. This is serious. A felony conviction will bar you from desired education, employment, immigration, licensing and additional significant opportunities. You have gone through life with your parents, teachers etc. minimizing characterizations of harsh situations. All sugar coating aside, it is time to dig deep and comprehend that there are consequences to actions.
2. Once you can appreciate that this is some serious shit, begin to work with your lawyer to formulate a strategy for your defense. The goal is to protect your future even if it means sacrifice in the present. A reduction in charges or a dismissal is worth suffering through jail, community service, rehab or counseling. Be grateful if you get this chance.
3. If you are asked questions by the judge or an attorney, THINK before you answer. A glib or thoughtless comment will reflect really badly and possibly make the judge or the prosecutor withdraw the break that was about to be bestowed upon you. This is referred to this as “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.” Don’t let it happen to you.
4. If you are put on probation, given a deferred judgment or conditional discharge, don’t blow it. If you violate the terms of probation, you will go to prison. State prison. Not television prison, not “Orange is the New Black” prison but scary real life prison where you are locked in with dangerous adult criminals. If you are given a conditional discharge or deferral, you have an OPPORTUNITY to earn a dismissal. Fulfill your obligations and don’t pick up any new charges and get that dismissal. Once dismissed, the case can be expunged and you can begin anew with an unmarred future and a lot more wisdom.