Drug offenses encompass the possession, use, sale or furnishing of any intoxicating substance or drug that is prohibited by law.
Drug possession is a serious crime that involves the possession of drugs or controlled substances. These charges can result from the possession of marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, ecstasy, and prescription drugs for which you do not have a prescription. Most drug possession charges are considered felonies, except for the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
A drug possession charge can be elevated to the more serious charge of drug trafficking or “possession with intent to distribute” when the amount of the drug a person possesses is more than expected for personal use. The total quantity varies with each substance, but the amounts are usually smaller than one might expect.
Drug trafficking is a more serious felony offense than drug possession. It encompasses the transportation, manufacturing and delivery of a controlled substance. You may be charged with drug trafficking even if you don't actually sell the drugs and no money changes hands. Prosecutors often try to prove these charges by showing that you had scales typically used to weight drugs, have visitors coming and going from your home at all hours, and similar circumstantial evidence.
Having large quantities of drugs in your possession is referred to “possession with intent to distribute.” As with drug trafficking, a prosecutor may be able to prove someone's intent to distribute by showing possession of a large quantity of the drug without any evidence the person ever actually sold or distributed the drug.
Most drug offenses are felonies and the penalties can be severe. Criminal sentencing for drug crimes depend on a variety of factors, including:
- The type of drug.
- The quantity of the drug.
- The circumstance surrounding the possession.
- The offender's previous criminal record.
A sentence can be enhanced where certain factors or circumstances are present, including:
- The use of minors to distribute drugs.
- When drugs are delivered or sold to minors.
- When drugs are sold or distributed near schools.
- The possession of weapons.
Having a drug charge on your criminal record may create significant obstacles for you down the road. You may have difficulties finding employment, lose the ability to secure government educational loans and grants, and a criminal record tends to raise suspicion by law enforcement any time you are stopped for other reasons.
If you find yourself facing criminal drug charges it is always in your best interest to immediately seek the guidance of an experienced criminal attorney.