The use of controlled substances and addiction costs the U.S. economy billions of dollars. Drugs claim thousands of lives per year. Under the federal law, possession of illegal drugs is a criminal offense. The federal law considers marijuana and illegal drugs as Schedule 1 substances that are illegal to possess, use, and distribute. It is important to understand the different federal and state penalties for possession and distribution of controlled substances.
Requirements to Prove Possession of Drugs
Possession of various controlled substances violates both the federal and state laws. However, drugs possession varies widely in different states across the country. Generally, the offense elements are similar and prosecutors are required to prove that the defendant violated these laws. They are required to establish that the defendant had knowledge the drug in question was controlled substance. Also, they should show that the individual knowingly had possession of the drugs. It also includes constructive possession, meaning that the defendant accessed illegal substances even if they were not specifically on their possession at the time of arrest.
Categories of Drug Possession Laws
Drug possession laws are in two categories that include simple possession meant for personal use and possession with an aim to distribute. The second category carries stiff penalties upon conviction as they aim to punish and deter drug dealers. For prosecutors to prove possession of illegal substances, they must have evidence such as large quantities of drugs, large sums of cash in small bills, and witness testimony.
In some states, they have created laws that separate categories of different drugs. For instance, different states across the country have legalized marijuana possession for recreational and medical use. States that have these exceptions to marijuana laws require a recommendation signed by a doctor. However, under federal law, marijuana is still considered to be illegal. The laws on possession of drugs and marijuana are constantly changing. It is therefore essential for a defendant to understand the state laws in their area.
Drug Paraphernalia Included within Possession Crimes
Possession of drug laws also entails prohibit paraphernalia that includes crack pipes, syringes, and bongs. According to the Federal Drug Paraphernalia Statute, it defines the constitutes of drug paraphernalia charges to be different. The charges depend on whether they are brought under the state or federal law. Based on federal law, the law enforcement officer can determine whether a given substance is to be considered drug paraphernalia in the context of its use in the community. A defendant facing drug paraphernalia charges could have a defense that they had the authorization to possess the substances. Also, it depends on the reason law enforcement believes the substances to be illegal in those states.
Marijuana Possession Penalties and Sentencing
Possession of marijuana is punishable by up to one year jail sentence and a minimum fine of $1,000 for first offenders. For a second conviction, penalties is a 15-day minimum mandatory sentence and maximum of two years in prison with a fine of up to $2,500.A criminal defense attorney can assist the defendant to minimize the sentence by agreeing to a plea bargain with the prosecutor. Also, they can agree on a treatment program instead of a conviction.
Get Legal Help with Your Drug Possession Charges from a Criminal Defense Attorney
Recently, the laws related to drug possession are changing in different states. This leads to conflict with federals laws which are confusing to a defendant. Penalties for possession and distribution of Schedule 1 substances that are more than 50kg is not more than five years in federal prison. The fines for first offense amount up to $250,000. A criminal defense attorney will reveal the loophole in the case brought forward by the prosecutor. This can be through whether the law enforcement officers arrested you without reading your rights or if the prosecutor did not preserve incriminating evidence. Criminal offenses that involve drugs and marijuana possession lead to large fines and long jail sentences. If you are facing these charges, it is recommended for the individual to contact an attorney immediately for legal assistance.