Are you facing drug possession charges? If so, you might feel overwhelmed or confused about the criminal justice process, how serious your charges are, and potential penalties for drug possession crimes. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about drug possession charges to help shed some light on your situation.
1. How serious is a drug possession charge?
A drug possession charge can be very serious. How severe the charge is will depend on a few factors, such as the type of drug, the quantity found in your possession, and what the police believe your intentions are with the drug. For instance, depending on your state, you could face misdemeanor charges for less than an ounce of marijuana or a felony charge for over an ounce of marijuana with intent to distribute.
2. What should I expect when facing a drug possession charge?
After you’re arrested and charged with drug possession, you’ll likely go to a District Court for an arraignment hearing. At this hearing, you’ll enter a plea, and the judge will decide on the terms of your bail. If this is a felony charge, some states require you to enter your plea at a Superior Court arraignment hearing. The following phases include a pre-trial stage. The prosecution and your defense lawyer discuss evidence and negotiate on a path to avoid a trial, or they might decide that your case will go to trial. Hiring a drug possession lawyer before your initial hearing is highly recommended.
3. Can you fight a drug possession charge?
It is possible to fight a drug possession charge. There are various circumstances that can lead to a minimized sentence or a case dismissal. For instance, sometimes law enforcement officers make mistakes in search and seizure procedures. Or, a defendant might be able to prove that the drugs in their possession belong to someone else. Either way, there are several aggressive defense strategies for fighting drug possession charges.
4. When is drug possession considered a felony?
Every state has unique classifications of felony drug possession charges, so it will depend on where you live. Generally, if you’re in possession of a significant quantity of a controlled substance with an intent to distribute or cultivate and sell, you’ll most likely face a felony charge.
5. What should I do if I’m charged with a drug crime?
Regardless if you’re facing a misdemeanor drug crime or a felony drug crime, you must contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The sooner you speak with a lawyer, the better your chances of fighting your drug possession charges.
6. Can a person receive treatment instead of conviction?
Some states out there allow you to apply to participate in a drug treatment program instead of a jail sentence. However, typically these are only allowed in instances of a first offense. It’s less likely that you’ll be able to do this if you’re a third or fourth-time offender.
7. What are the penalties for drug paraphernalia possession?
Drug paraphernalia possession charges are just as common as drug possession charges. Penalties will vary according to your state and what the prosecutors believe the defendant is likely to do with the drug paraphernalia. For instance, the penalties for paraphernalia found as personal use will be lesser than the penalties for an intent to distribute or sell the drug equipment.
8. What are the schedules of controlled substances?
The federal government classifies drugs into five distance schedules, with Schedule I being most likely to lead to abuse. According to the United States Drug Enforcement Agency, here are some examples of drugs for each classification:
- Heroin, LSD, marijuana, ecstasy, methaqualone, and peyote
- Vicodin, cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, Dilaudid, Demerol, OxyContin, fentanyl, Dexedrine, Adderall, and Ritalin
- Tylenol with codeine, ketamine, anabolic steroids, testosterone
- Xanax, Soma, Darvon, Darvocet, Valium
- Robitussin AC, Lomotil, Motofen, Lyrica, Parepectolin
9. What happens if I’m arrested for drug possession near a school?
Most states have strict drug-free zones near and around schools. Penalties will commonly increase and be more severe if a drug possession arrest occurs near a school.
10. Should I hire a criminal defense attorney for a drug possession charge?
Absolutely. It’s never advised to attempt to handle a drug possession charge alone. A criminal defense attorney that specializes in drug possession can investigate your case, find flaws in the prosecutor’s case, and guide you through every step of the criminal justice process. For the best possible outcome, contact a drug possession lawyer as soon as possible.