Drug Violations Law

Sentencing for Drug Possession

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. In some cases, drug court or chemical or mental health-related treatment programs can help you avoid a criminal conviction.

Drug laws are different in every state. Talk to a drug possession defense attorney in your area to understand your legal options after an arrest for possession.

Drug Possession Charges

Drug possession includes having actual possession or constructive possession of a controlled substance. For example, suppose you are driving around with marijuana in your glove compartment. In that case, you can be considered to be in unlawful possession. This is because you have access to and control over what is in the compartment.

Drug charges can depend on how much of the substance is in your possession. Possession of a small amount of drugs may be considered possession of drugs for personal use. Having larger quantities of a drug can be charged as possession with the intent to distribute or drug trafficking.

Drug offenses can also depend on the specific type of drug involved. Drugs are classified under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) into five schedules. The drug schedules are based on their medical use and risk of abuse, from the most dangerous Schedule I drugs to less harmful Schedule V drugs.

The type of drug is important because it can make a difference in the level of criminal charge you will face. The criminal penalties can be different for possession of the same amount of methamphetamine, LSD, PCP, or cannabis.

Criminal Sentencing for Drug Possession

Sentencing is part of a criminal case when the judge determines the penalties. This can include fines, probation, or jail time. Many courts use sentencing guidelines to determine drug crime penalties. Other factors that can affect the sentence include:

  • An individual’s cooperation and compliance with a mental health and chemical treatment program during the pre-trial phase
  • Showing remorse
  • Prior convictions
  • First-time offense

Federal Drug Sentencing

Some drug possession offenses are prosecuted by the federal government. Federal agencies generally focus on larger-scale drug crimes, like drug trafficking and manufacturing. A conviction for drug-related crimes under federal law can result in a federal prison sentence. Many federal laws have mandatory minimum sentences, including up to life imprisonment.

Decriminalization of Marijuana Possession

Most states now have medical marijuana laws, and others have legalized recreational cannabis. A growing number of states have decriminalized marijuana possession for personal use. In these states, simple possession of a small amount of marijuana is not viewed as a crime and may only result in a fine. However, possession of large amounts of marijuana may still be a crime.

Drug Court and Drug Diversion Programs

Some drug offenders have mental and chemical health problems that are not adequately addressed through regular sentencing. Instead, eligible offenders can go through drug court to help them avoid a criminal conviction and get their life back on track.

Drug courts and other drug diversion programs are made up of judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, social workers, and substance abuse treatment professionals. The drug court model includes monitoring, supervision, treatment, and rehabilitation services. After completing the program, the offender can have their criminal charges dropped. Check with your attorney to see if your local county has a drug court program.

How Can an Attorney Help After a Drug Possession Arrest?

An experienced criminal defense attorney understands criminal law and how drug crimes are prosecuted where they practice. Your lawyer will be able to explain your rights and your legal options to fight the charges in court.

For a first offense or nonviolent drug crime, your criminal defense lawyer may be able to negotiate with the judge to avoid a drug conviction by going through drug court. Contact a drug possession defense lawyer who can look at your specific case and give you the best outcome.

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