It can be difficult to think clearly when faced with drug possession charges. Many detainees are afraid of social stigmas, financial, and legal consequences.
Did you know that every 25 seconds in the United States someone is arrested for possession of drugs?
However, it’s important that you take the necessary steps to protect your rights.
Do the police have the right to arrest you?
Here is a summary of narcotics-related offenses and the possible consequences and sanctions.
1. Right to Have a Lawyer
Your lawyer can help you at the time of your arrest and during your criminal process.
What do you do after an arrest?
Provide your details to the police. Communicate with your lawyer as soon as possible.
Your lawyer will help you through the following:
- Police interrogations.
- Bail for hearings.
- Negotiation of sentences.
- And all aspects of your trial.
Remember, if you can’t afford a lawyer the judge will appoint a lawyer to defend you.
2. Understand the Different Types of Substances
There are various narcotic drugs banned in the US. These narcotics are referred to as “controlled substances.”
Their classification is under various schedules of the Controlled Substances Act.
They include all synthetic and natural forms of the substances.
What are the categories of prohibited substances in the US?
Class I Drugs
These drugs have high abuse potential. They’re not accepted for medical treatment in the United States.
Examples include marijuana, LSD, heroin, and peyote.
Class II Drugs
Class II drugs are for medical purposes in the US. Their abuse can cause serious physical or psychological dependence.
They include Demerol, methadone, Dilaudid, OxyContin, and, hydrocodone,
Class III Drugs
These drugs are for medical use and they are less abused.
They include Suboxone, Tylenol, ketamine, and anabolic steroids.
Class IV Drugs
Class IV substances have low abuse potential. They are currently permitted in the US for treatments.
Examples include Soma, Xanax, Valium, Halcion, Klonopin, Restoril, and Ativan.
Class V drugs
The abuse of these drugs may cause limited psychological or physical dependence.
Class V drugs are for medical purposes only. They include cough syrups that contain codeine.
Note that the Act targets a large number of narcotics and allows control of future drugs.
3. Narcotics Offenses
What are the different types of narcotics offenses?
Keep reading to find out!
It’s illegal to possess substances in Schedules 1, 2 and 3. Only authorized persons get exempted to have these substances.
Contrary to what people believe, the amount of drugs possessed doesn’t matter on the charge. However, the courts have established that it must be measurable, tangible and visible.
Thus, traces of cocaine on a bag are not enough to make you guilty of possession of drugs under Schedule 1 of the Act.
The substance Act prohibits the trafficking of substances listed in Schedules 1 to 4.
Presenting a substance as a narcotic is also trafficking. But, the act of buying a narcotic does not constitute trafficking.
The transfer of possession of a substance is enough to get you charged with trafficking.
Finally, transportation gets considered as moving a substance for selling or distribution.
4. The Proof
A certificate of an analyst is always accepted in evidence. This certificate is proof of its content. Your Attorney must provide notice of his intention to produce a certificate. He/she must also have a photocopy of it.
Exceptionally, the accused may need the analyst to testify at the trial. Also, the attorney will have to prove the chain of possession of the substances.
He/she must prove that the substances are the ones that got seized in your possession.
5. Factors that Influence Drug Possession Charges
They include the amount and type of drug and the defendant’s prior history.
The possession of cocaine has the most stringent penalties in most states. It is also important to note that some states legalized the possession of marijuana.
Depending on the sentencing rules of a state, judges have a common degree of discretion. They can impose penalties ranging from:
- Community service hours.
- Prolonged prison sentences.
Consult a drug charge lawyer experienced in drug possession cases for more information.
6. The Penalties
There’s no minimum sentence for narcotics offenses. But the drug possessions laws provided by the Act differ according to the offenses.
Possession of Schedule 1 substances may incur a penalty of 7 years in prison. If the drug is in Schedule 2, the penalty is 5 years.
However, for small amounts of cannabis, the penalty is six months imprisonment. Finally, the possession of class III substances attracts imprisonment of 3 years.
Penalty for Drug Trafficking
Trafficking of Schedules 1 and 2 drugs incurs a life imprisonment penalty. However, for cannabis, the penalty is 5 years imprisonment.
For a Schedule 3 substance, the maximum penalty is 10 years imprisonment.
Finally, for Schedule 6 substance, the maximum sentence is 3 years imprisonment.
Importation and Exportation
When found importing or exporting class 1 and 2 drugs, the penalty is life imprisonment.
For a substance included in Schedule 3, the penalty is imprisonment for up to 10 years.
For Schedules 4 and 5 drugs, the penalty is 3 years imprisonment.
The penalty for producing class 1 and 2 drugs is life imprisonment. Yet, the penalty for producing cannabis is 7 years imprisonment.
The penalty for the production of a narcotic included in Schedule 4 is a 3-year term.
7. The Defenses
Charged with drug possession? Find out how to beat a simple possession charge!
Did you know you can rely on the defense of mistake of fact about the nature of the drug possessed?
This error must thus be sincere and innocent. You must, at no time, have known that the substance you posses are illegal.
This defense is possible given the knowledge required by the definition of possession.
Drug possession charges can become complicated and stressful. However, you shouldn’t drop your guard and allow the law enforcement bodies to charge you harshly.
A qualified attorney for drug charges can help with your particular legal needs.
Take the first step now!
Contact us here to discuss your specific legal situation. Our team of qualified attorneys will attend to you and save your legal situation.