(CN) – A teenager’s rights were not violated when his grandmother sent him to rehab for marijuana dependence, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled.
F.C.’s grandmother was concerned about the boy’s running away from home, using drugs, skipping school and stealing. She had been the 14-year-old’s guardian since he was 4.
She petitioned for the boy’s involuntary commitment to a drug and alcohol abuse treatment center. The trial court granted her petition.
The boy’s lawyer challenged the commitment on constitutional grounds, claiming that the boy has been denied his 14th Amendment due process rights because he was shackled and questioned without counsel.
The Superior Court upheld the boy’s detention, ruling that he was a flight risk.
The boy’s attorney took the case to the state supreme court, challenging the constitutionality of the Drug and Alcohol Abuse and Control Act on the grounds that it does not require that minors be placed in the least restrictive environment that meets their needs.
Justice Debra McCloskey Todd ruled that the act complied with constitutional standards.
“Due process protections are to be fair, flexible, and grounded in common sense,” she wrote. “We stress that we are dealing with a process in which a parent or guardian is seeking medical treatment for their child. This stature is civil in nature and involves therapeutic treatment for a brief duration – as well as the hope of recovery and a brighter future for their child,” Todd wrote.