If the police say you committed a drug-related crime, that’s potentially pretty serious. Several factors will come into play.
You should certainly hire a good lawyer who can help you as you fight these charges. We’ll discuss drug charges more thoroughly right now.
Understanding drug crime penalties and consequences becomes more critical when you consider how this situation can change your entire life from this point forward.
Know About Drug Charges and Fighting Them
Hiring an experienced criminal defence attorney to fight these charges legally and protect your rights is important.
#1. What You Have Matters
First, it’s worth mentioning that what you have matters, assuming the police caught you and you have some drugs on you. For instance, say you have a single joint.
Overall, even if the cops catch you and you’re in a state that doesn’t allow legal recreational marijuana, the system won’t usually throw the book at you. For the most part, judges don’t think marijuana offenses matter like they did in the past.
We’re mostly past the Reefer Madness era when society thought marijuana would drive you insane or make you commit murder.
If the police catch you and you have something like meth, crack, or heroin, the criminal court system might judge that more harshly. For one thing, those substances have a higher addiction risk.
The court system also feels that some people might use marijuana occasionally, and that’s relatively acceptable. Using a harder or more addictive drug indicates you’re more deviant or dangerous. The sentencing guidelines often reflect that belief.
#2. How Much You Have Matters
It would be best if you also understood how much you have on your matters. If you have that single joint again, the police can’t possibly say you have intent to distribute. If you have a couple of pounds, they might feel differently.
If the police and the court system believe you’re selling drugs, you face a tougher sentence and potentially some long jail time.
You might argue you have those drugs for personal use, but if the police also find a scale, baggies, and other paraphernalia, they can argue you’re a drug dealer. As you might imagine, that’s potentially a much more serious offense.
#3. Your Prior Offenses Matter
If you have a clean record up to this point, you might argue that you never did this before and you made a mistake. If you have prior criminal offenses, though, the prosecution will say you’re a repeat offender.
If you have past drug offenses, you might claim you have a drug problem, but you’re not a violent or dangerous person. If you have prior offenses like manslaughter or armed robbery, a minor drug offense might get you some serious jail time.
You broke the law again, so the court system might claim you haven’t received the necessary rehabilitation.
#4. Whether You Seem Contrite Matters
Your attitude in the courtroom matters. If you seem contrite during sentencing, the judge might show leniency. If you address the court and say that you’ve made mistakes but you’ll turn your life around going forward, that might help your case.
If you act defiant and say you did this once and will do it again the first chance you get, expect the longest possible sentence. The judge won’t like that behavior and will feel they should punish you as much as the law allows.
#5. Your Lawyer Can Help You
Before the trial, your lawyer can meet with you and talk about your strategy. They will mention whether there’s a plea deal on the table.
Most times, the prosecution will offer one. They know that trials take time and energy, and they won’t want that if the police caught you with a small amount and they feel you had it for personal use.
Your lawyer might suggest you take the plea deal, but you’ll go through the trial process if you refuse. You might use whatever means possible when fighting the charges.
If the police caught you with drugs, and there’s no denying you bought them and planned on using them, you broke the law, and a conviction seems likely. The judge won’t like that you didn’t take a plea deal, so if a jury convicts you, you can expect a harsh sentence.
Usually, you should take your lawyer’s advice. You might fight the charges, but you’ll probably lose unless you have irrefutable evidence that those weren’t your drugs.
If that happens, you might face jail time, and you’ll have that on your record even when you get out. That can make finding work difficult.