Federal and state laws in the United States outline drug use, possession, and distribution restrictions. In general, the federal government issues regulatory laws for drug use. State governments follow these regulatory laws.
These laws go over every drug category, including scheduled drugs. But there are exceptions, the most notable being cannabis. As of today, cannabis remains decriminalized under many state laws.
Still, drug-related crimes remain a prevalent issue in the United States. According to findings, as much as 80% of prison inmates abuse drugs or alcohol. Likewise, 28% of all arrests in America resulted from drug-related offenses. This translates to about 244 thousand Americans sent to prison every year.
On that note, people must stop participating in events that may likely land them on the wrong side of the law. Still, when it comes to drug-related crimes, one can only do much with sparse knowledge of the law. That includes the types of drug crimes, knowing the drug case laws, and hiring drug charge lawyers.
This blog post puts everything into perspective. You should note that this post is not about crimes committed under the influence. Rather, it provides crucial insight into drug-related offenses and how to get yourself out of lawsuits. But let us take a detour before we dive into it!
Can Drug Charges Be Expunged?
Some states may drop drug charge cases. Still, expungement laws differ across states. So, you must determine your eligibility before proceeding.
On that note, seeking out a knowledgeable drug charge lawyer becomes important. That is because they know all about the local drug possession laws.
A drug crime lawyer will help one understand the laws better. They also know the best strategies in how to pursue expungement. With the right drug charge lawyer, individuals may soon discover that there still may be hope, even after facing drug charges.
Types of Drug-related Crimes
Here are the 4 types of drug-related crimes and their place under the law.
First on this list is drug manufacturing. This involves the steps taken to produce illegal drugs. The severity of the charge depends on the drugs one produces and the amount found.
The most common version of this crime is marijuana farming. While marijuana remains legal under several state laws, regulation of it is still in the works. The legality of the cannabis industry varies across states due to the Medical Marijuana Program.
Still, in states where it is illegal, a conviction may lead to a felony, prison time, and a harsh fine. Also, the court may double the sentence if said drug manufacturing is near a school or playground.
Another crime under this umbrella is methamphetamine production. Methamphetamine (also known as meth) production is an illegal business across states.
One reason for its illegality is the chemicals used in the production process. Not only are these chemicals dangerous, but they are also highly inflammable. One will face lengthy prison time if convicted of running a meth lab.
Today, the most basic drug charge is the possession of illegal drugs. This charge punishes anyone found in possession of illicit substances. Yes, having cocaine, heroin, LSD, and other controlled substances on you is a crime according to federal and state laws.
You should note that the availability of proof of ownership is unnecessary for the charges to stick. Simply holding any illicit substance may have you facing criminal charges. While it is the least serious case, it can escalate depending on the drugs in your possession.
There are 3 classes of drugs: class A, B, and C. Possession of class-A drugs may land you up to 7 years in prison, a fine, or both. Possession of class-B drugs may land you up to 5 years in prison, a fine, or both. Lastly, possessing class-C drugs may land you up to 2 years in prison, a fine, or both.
Moreso, the severity of the charges faced depends on the amount of drugs in the person’s possession. The reason for this diversity is the difference in laws across states. Still, they risk misdemeanor charges, fines, and jail time if caught with these drugs.
Possession of illegal drugs may have them face one of two charges.
- Simple drug possession: This involves possessing illegal substances in small amounts.
- Possession with intent to distribute: This involves spreading drugs across any community. It comes with harsher penalties.
For the most part, prosecutors can determine the intent based on the weight. The larger the quantity of drugs in one’s possession, the more likely the prosecutor deems them a distributor. That is because a larger quantity goes past what one might own for personal use.
People with prescription drugs may also face drug possession charges. That is because drug misuse is a public health violation. Some states go as far as banning the possession of prescription drugs outside their original pharmacy packaging.
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
Drug paraphernalia is another crime punishable under the law. It refers to items used in preparing, injecting, or inhaling illicit substances. It also refers to items used in producing, packaging, and concealing illegal drugs.
The National Drug Intelligence Center says selling, importing, or exporting these items is illegal. Certain states even charge possession of paraphernalia as a misdemeanor. One may also face stiffer penalties in cases that point to selling or transferring these items to minors.
Some examples of drug paraphernalia include
- Rolling papers
- Cutting agents
- Syringes and injection kits
Some items in this list serve legal purposes. For example, pipes, bongs, and rolling paper serve as tobacco equipment. These items typically come with a label stating their use. Still, in a case where the evidence points to illegal drugs, one might face a possession charge.
Drug Dealing or Drug Trafficking
Drug dealing or trafficking refers to the trade, sale, or exchange of scheduled drugs. It is an illegal practice. But certain states tend to set apart selling from sharing drugs.
Nonetheless, a dealer stands to face felony charges if caught trafficking. As such, they face probation or even jail time. Still, the severity of a drug trafficking case may increase depending on other factors.
For starters, the charges may become more serious if they are in possession of a large amount. Furthermore, the dealer faces stiffer penalties if they use a firearm while trafficking. What is more, they even face stiffer penalties if a person should die due to their trafficked drugs.
The minimum sentence for selling 100g of heroin is 5 years in prison. This is in line with Drug Enforcement Administration directives.
Hopefully, this article has helped you understand the different types of drug-related crimes. If you know someone showing drug addiction signs, it is best to help them.
Checking them into a drug addiction rehabilitation center would go a long way. That way, they get proper drug addiction treatment and turn their lives around.
Likewise, getting a professional drug crime lawyer is your best chance if you are facing a lawsuit. Nonetheless, staying out of trouble works best!
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