Drug use and addiction cost the economy billions of dollars and claim thousands of lives every year in the United States, and certain substances such as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine are banned by laws in every state and at the federal level.
Those facing drug crimes charges in the United States may be accused of possessing, manufacturing, trafficking, distributing or dealing drugs, and the penalties they face will vary greatly depending on what substance is involved and whether they were arrested under state or federal drug laws.
LawInfo covers the ins and outs of this complex legal topic below. If you’ve been charged, seek out a criminal defense attorney to discuss next steps.
Building Your Legal Defense
- How an attorney can help: “Finding a lawyer that is experienced in drug crime cases can go a long way in helping. The right attorney will advise you on your constitutional rights and legal options after an arrest. You may find out that you have a stronger case than you realize.”
- Finding the right attorney: “Before you just accept what the prosecutor tells you and end up with a criminal record, make sure you understand your legal rights with the help of an experienced defense attorney.”
Drug Crime Issues
- Avoid deportation with experienced legal aid: “Drug crimes are generally prosecuted under state law, but U.S. immigration falls under federal law. When facing possible deportation for a drug crime, you should talk to a local criminal defense lawyer who understands how a drug conviction can affect your immigration status.”
- Controlled substances under federal law: “Controlled substances can be classified by their medical use and the risk of dependency or abuse. Under state and federal drug laws, some drugs are illegal for any purpose, and others are only available with a prescription.”
- Sentencing for drug crimes: “There are severe penalties after a conviction for drug possession, drug trafficking, or selling illegal drugs. Half of all federal prisoners are serving jail time for drug crimes. The number of people doing prison time on drug charges in state prisons has increased since the 1980s.”
- Submitting to a drug test for a new employer: “A pre-employment drug test is a way to screen job applicants to ensure they have not used illegal drugs in the recent past. Many employers want to use pre-employment tests to get the best candidate pool for the job.”
- Decriminalizing marijuana at the state and federal level: “Drug decriminalization is where the laws are changed to make certain possession of small amounts of drugs for personal use no longer a crime. Possession of drugs can still be an infraction punishable by a fine but may no longer be a misdemeanor offense.”
Charging Offenses and Sentencing
- Drug trafficking: “The amount of drugs trafficked and the type of drugs involved can determine the criminal charges and penalties. You could face serious prison time if you are accused of selling, manufacturing, transporting, or distributing illegal drugs.”
- Distributing drugs: “Drug distribution involves the sale, manufacture, exchange, and transfer of illegal drugs. To be charged with drug distribution, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you had drugs in your possession, with the intent to distribute them, and knew the drugs were an unlawful controlled substance.”
- Sentencing for distributing drugs: “Drug distribution involves the sale, manufacture, exchange, and transfer of illegal drugs. To be charged with drug distribution, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you had drugs in your possession, with the intent to distribute them, and knew the drugs were an unlawful controlled substance.”
- Possessing drugs: “Drug possession is one of the most common criminal charges in the United States. Even minor drug possession for personal use can result in jail time and a drug conviction on your criminal record.”
- Sentencing for possessing drugs: “If you are carrying drugs, you can be charged with gross misdemeanor or felony drug possession. Sentencing for drug possession can range anywhere from a fine to a prison sentence for years. “
- Possessing drugs with the intent to distribute: “Understanding your rights in drug possession arrests is essential to ensure the prosecutor doesn’t make you plead guilty to something you didn’t do and to ensure that you don’t face other harmful collateral consequences that could affect other areas of your life.”
- Sentencing for possessing drugs with the intent to distribute: “Many drug charges carry mandatory minimum prison sentences. Judges generally have sentencing schedules that allow for a range of prison sentencing. Mitigating factors can lower the penalties, and aggravating factors can increase the penalties.
- Manufacturing and cultivating drugs: “When there is evidence of a drug lab, drug-making materials, or growing marijuana, the suspect can be charged with serious felony charges for drug manufacturing and cultivation.”
- Sentencing for manufacturing and cultivating drugs: “Drug cultivation and manufacturing is generally a felony offense in state and federal court. Penalties for drug manufacturing crimes in federal court carry significantly higher penalties than a conviction for drug manufacturing in state court.”
- Possessing drug paraphernalia: “Possession of drug paraphernalia is generally treated as a misdemeanor at the state level, with most penalties not exceeding 1 year. Under federal law, a drug paraphernalia charge is a felony punishable by up to 3 years in prison and a fine.”
- Sentencing for possessing drug paraphernalia: “Additionally, states can impose harsher sentences depending on the specific circumstances of a case. For example, possessing paraphernalia with the intent to sell can be a compounding offense, carrying longer jail times and fines than being caught with a pipe or baggie for personal use.”
- Possessing drugs as a juvenile: “Juvenile drug possession cases are handled differently than adult drug possession cases because of the individual’s young age. Drug possession by young people generally goes through the juvenile justice system instead of the criminal courts.”
- Sentencing for possessing drugs as a juvenile: “Penalties for drug possession by juveniles are different than for adults. Juvenile justice is often based on treatment and rehabilitation.”
Speak to an Experienced Drug Crime Attorney Today
This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified drug crime lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local drug crime attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.
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Additional Drug Crime Articles
- Can I Be Deported for a Drug Violation?
- Drug Crimes Overview
- Pre-Employment Drug Testing Laws
- Sentencing for Juvenile Drug Possession
- What Is Juvenile Drug Possession?
- Sentencing for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
- What Is Possession of Drug Paraphernalia?
- Sentencing for Drug Manufacturing and Cultivation
- What Is Drug Manufacturing and Cultivation?
- Sentencing for Drug Possession With Intent To Distribute
- What Is Drug Possession With Intent To Distribute?
- Controlled Substance Schedules
- State and Federal Drug Decriminalization
- How a Drug Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
- How To Find a Drug Criminal Defense Attorney
- Sentencing for Drug Distribution
- Sentencing for Drug Possession
- What Is Drug Distribution?
- What Is Drug Trafficking?
- What Is Drug Possession?
- Drug Crime Sentencing