Drug Possession Penalties

Drug possession is a potentially serious offense that may result in punishment ranging from heavy fines to jail time. Statistics show that prosecution for minor drug offenses is becoming increasingly common.

Approximately 20 to 30 percent of all criminal arrests involve drug possession or drug trafficking offenses.

If you or a loved one has been charged with drug possession, you need to ensure that your legal rights are protected. Please contact a law firm today for a FREE consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you understand your legal rights and options.

What Constitutes Drug Possession?

Drug possession is defined as the condition of having or being in control of any controlled substance (such as marijuana, cocaine, LSD, methamphetamines, etc.) or unauthorized prescription medications. Those in possession of drug paraphernalia, accessories related to drug use or distribution, or materials involved in the production of drugs may also be charged with drug possession.

Depending on the circumstances, an individual may be charged with drug possession or drug possession with the intent to distribute. Determining factors include:

  • The drug quantity
  • How the drug is stored
  • The location of the drug
  • Possession of a scale or other drug distribution paraphernalia
  • Possession of large amounts of money

Drug Possession: The Penalties

A criminal drug possession penalty may be the result of possessing any controlled substance or unauthorized prescription medication. Controlled substances can include illegal drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, hallucinogens (such as PCP, LSD, and MDMA/ecstasy), and others. A criminal drug possession penalty is often determined by the type of drug that an offender possessed. Possession of drugs that have a higher potential for abuse or those which have the potential to cause injury or death often results in a harsher drug possession penalty.

The penalties for possession with the intent to sell are generally much greater than those for simple possession. Consequences also vary depending on the type of drug, the amount of the drug, and the defendant’s past drug convictions. The penalties are greater for possession of drugs that have a higher potential to cause physical injury or death. Penalties for marijuana possession, for example, are often less than those for the possession of an equal amount of cocaine or heroin.

Drug possession of larger quantities

A drug possession penalty is also determined by the amount of the drug in possession. Drug possession of larger quantities can be charged as drug possession with the intent to distribute the drug, which can result in a much harsher drug possession penalty. Drug possession penalty rulings are much harsher in these cases and can double in cases where an offender distributes drugs to minors. Drug possession penalty convictions are also much harsher when the crime takes place in close proximity to a daycare center, school, or university. A person with previous drug offense convictions will also face a stronger drug possession penalty.

Sale to Minors

The penalties are often twice as harsh if evidence suggests that the drugs were intended for sale to minors. Drug possession or distribution near a school, university, or daycare center may also result in severe penalties. Drug possession offenders can face prison or jail time, fines, probation, and mandatory treatment programs. Several U.S. jurisdictions have mandatory minimum penalties for drug possession offenders, regardless of individual circumstances.

90% of all cases are settled

A drug possession penalty is ordered through the criminal justice system. About ninety percent of all cases are settled through guilty pleas and less than ten percent of drug possession penalty cases are determined through an actual trial. Many jurisdictions have drug possession penalty mandatory minimums. This means that a drug possession penalty is determined regardless of an offender’s background, character, role in the crime, or threat to society. In recent years, legislature and social groups nationwide have pushed for treatment drug possession penalty options rather than mandatory incarceration drug possession penalty options for offenders of non-violent drug crimes. These have been proven to be more cost-efficient and effective in lowering rates of recidivism.

Contact a Drug Possession Attorney

A drug possession penalty can include fines, jail or prison time, probation, mandatory treatment programs, and the loss of other rights. According to state drug possession penalty statistics, approximately one-third of convicts receive prison time, one-third jail time, and another one-third a probation drug possession penalty sentence. The average number of months of incarceration ordered in a drug possession penalty ranges between 30 and 40 months. The average time that is actually served ranges between six and 20 months. The loss of eligibility for federal grants and loans can also be included in a drug possession penalty.

If you or a loved one has been charged with drug possession, you should contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can help you maximize your legal rights. Please contact one today for a FREE consultation with a qualified criminal defense lawyer who can answer your questions, guide you through the legal process, and aggressively pursue your interests.

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