Penalties vary widely when you have been convicted of drug possession. It differs from state to state and can mean a fine of less than $100 and/or a few days in jail to fines of several thousand dollars and several years in state prison depending on your location. Manufacturing, cultivating drugs have heavier penalties than distribution or possession. Plea deals are sometimes offered to defendants who may be of assistance for more serious investigations. Read on to learn more.
Back in 1986, federal lawmakers enacted mandatory sentencing guidelines targeting higher level drug distributors but it also took a toll on lower end drug defendants. Most states have adopted similar procedures, primarily imposing fixed sentences based on the drug type, the drug weight and the number of previous convictions the person has had. Kentucky for example closely follows the strictest federal guidelines while California has some of the lightest sentences for drug possession.
Drug courts provide programs for defendants with felony drug charges that are overseen by a judge with the goal or drug rehabilitation as opposed to going to trial. Judges have considerable influence These programs usually last up to fifteen months and include treatment sessions, random drug screening and appearing in front of the judge regularly. Those who do not meet the stated criteria often face a short jail sentence.
Other factors that may impact sentencing include:
- The defendants past record
- The type and amount of drug involved
- Aggravating factors such as the crime taking place within 1,000 feet of a school
- Drug distribution when suffering the abuse of a partner (known as the power dynamic)
State Drug Possession Laws
The Drug Enforcement Association known as the DEA focuses on interstate and large network drug trafficking yet sentences vary widely by state from one to twenty years in prison and fines that may exceed $10,000. Depending on the state, judges may have some discretion that can use when imposing sentences such as community service hours, fines and probation as well as length of prison sentences.
State Marijuana Laws
States differ widely on this issue with some states legalizing marijuana or substantially reducing possession penalties. Even in states where it is legalized there are still restrictions and regulations. Colorado allows you up to one ounce. Have more than two ounces in Colorado and it is a misdemeanor, more than twelve ounces and it is considered a felony.
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*This information is not intended to be legal advice. Please contact Canterbury Law Group today to learn more about your personal legal needs.