Two California teenage hikers were lost in the forest and search parties were sent out to find them. The teens, a 19-year-old male and an 18-year-old female, were found after days of searching. The young man was lost in the forest for three days, and the young woman was found after a week. The cost of the search totaled more than $160,000. When their car was searched, a small amount of drugs was found, and so the teens are now facing drug crime charges.
The state provides search services for people lost in the woods, and they do not normally charge people for any of the search expenses. However, Orange County officials are considering charging the couple for part of the $160,000 search because they believe that the teenagers went into the forest with the intention of getting high. The board supervisor reports that they are relieved that the teenagers were found alive, but they also believe that the teens should take responsibility for their actions by covering the expenses instead of leaving them to the taxpayers.
In this case, the accused are facing both criminal and civil charges. The male is charged with criminal possession of methamphetamines that were found in the car. However, they may both face civil charges as the city attempts to recoup some or all of the money that was spent on the search and rescue efforts.
Defeating the civil charges by hinge on defeating the criminal narcotics offense. If an attorney for the teens can have those charges dismissed or if the two are found not guilty of drug charges, then the civil case will be more difficult to prove. The sentence for the drug charge could range from probation to three years in jail. However, the financial implication of the civil suit could also have a powerful impact on their lives. People facing similar charges in California may find it helpful to speak with criminal defense attorneys who may explain their rights and options and recommend courses of action.
Source: Fox News, "Drug find means hikers may be charged for California search ", Associated Press, May 03, 2013