The news of marijuana legalization across various states was music to the ears of many US citizens. However, the issue of illegal drugs remains very prominent in American society.
The law is selectively strict on drug possession, and numerous factors can impact what the person will be charged with and even the extent of the final punishment. If you use these substances, even recreationally, it’s important to understand how one slip-up can affect your life.
What Is the Charge?
If the police catch you with an illegal drug on you, they will charge you with possession as they have physical evidence of ownership. Because the substances are illegal, that’s enough for a conviction if:
- They can prove you were aware of having a controlled substance;
- They can show you have control over the drug.
If they fail to prove that, then your Queens drug attorney can move to dismiss the possession charge. For instance, if the police searched your home and found heroin, you can have the charges dismissed if you argue the drug belonged to the roommate. So while the drug was in your home, you were unaware it was a controlled substance and had no control over it.
But, if they can prove you knew of and controlled an illegal substance, then the authorities will analyze a variety of other factors to determine the charge. These factors can also impact the final sentence, whether it’s a fine or years served.
Factors Impacting Charges and Sentences
1. State or Federal
A big factor that may impact your drug punishment is who arrested in the first place. If it’s a federal law enforcement body, the charge may be more severe, because they usually don’t arrest people carrying a few grams of cocaine.
2. State Law
The charges brought against you depend on the state where you were arrested. Some are rather lenient, while others have a strict 0-tolerance policy. Moreover, if the police determine that you’ve also crossed state lines, then your case is judged based on federal law, not the state-law where you were arrested.
3. Previous Offenses
If you already have a criminal record, you may get a harsher sentence, even if the other crimes aren’t related to drugs.
4. Added Offenses
If the police stop your car, determine you are under the effects of drugs and find the illegal substance on you, then you can face multiple charges at the same time (possession and driving under the influence, in this case).
5. The Place of the Arrest
It may seem like a strange factor to determine a charge, but some areas influence the drug-related punishment. For instance, in many states, if you are found with illegal drugs in your possession in a school zone, that may warrant a harsher sentence.
6. The Type of Drug
In a way, some drugs are considered “more illegal” than others, by law. The type of drug found in your possession warrant different sentences, depending on the state.
7. The Amount of Drug
If the police find small quantities of drugs on you, then they’ll most likely charge you with possession. However, larger amounts of illegal drugs may indicate the substance is not just for personal use, and authorities can add ‘:intent to distribute” to the charge.
In the end, it’s extremely difficult to anticipate what the drug charge will be. The police and prosecutors may push for a particular charge after analyzing the particularities of the case, but a lawyer may also have a lot to say in what the final sentence will be.
That is why it’s crucial not to dismiss any drug charge, no matter how small, and hire an attorney to represent you in a drug-related legal problem. They will conduct their analysis of the evidence on hand and argue on your behalf to lower or even dismiss the charge altogether.