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If Charged With Drug Possession, What Do You Need to Know?

Drug Possession and Intention to Distribute

If one has been charged with possession or intent to distribute, this is what they need to know about the charges:

Being charged with possession of drugs or intent to distribute is a serious criminal charge that can impact on your civil liberties in a major way. Besides an un-erasable criminal record, your livelihood is affected by the use of drugs. There is a difference between possession charges and possession with intent to deliver. A charge for possession denotes one is potentially using drugs. These charges can be treated with one of the many rehabilitative services, including addiction treatment or counseling, among others. The more serious charge that tends to garner more intention from law enforcement is the possession with the intent to deliver.

One faces a stiffer penalty, more strict scrutiny by law enforcement and more potential chance of losing liberty in comparison to possession charges. The type of narcotics does not make significant difference on the types of charges meted on a person. For example, Methamphetamine possession attracts a high penalty but this does not reduce the impact that cocaine, heroin or any other illegal drug has on your life. The same applies for possession with intent to deliver. When one is charged with possession with the intent to deliver, and more so, when the amounts are of larger quantities, it creates a risk or a factor of potentially losing one’s liberty as opposed to a more rehabilitative type of consequence of probation with some sort of rehabilitation. The law enforcement tends to swing for the fences with regard to possession with the intent to deliver especially in large amounts

The Dividing Line

It is not possible to know that they are potentially going to be charged and if the charges will be on intent to deliver. The charges depend upon the circumstances of each individual case. Firstly, determination will be based on whether one is struggling with narcotic addiction, and in such case then one needs to seek help and treatment. Also, one should be aware of irrespective of maybe changing societal morals, marijuana possession and any possession of illegal substances is still illegal and one should not engage in that type of behavior or exercise that type of bad judgment. The dividing line is on a case by case and is typically in the weight and the way that the narcotic presents itself or the facts of how it’s packaged and what amounts. If one has a small amount of narcotic that appears to be for recreational use form, then that will lead to a straight possession case.

If one has the possession case where narcotic found is in larger amounts or in amounts that are packaged separately or there’s packaging devices that are associated with a large amount or if there’s collateral evidence that denotes some sort of delivery or distribution type of factors like scales, large amounts of money, packaging devices, or the segregation of the narcotic itself then that is what law enforcement will use to enforce a much higher charge of possession with the intent to deliver. It is rare for an individual with more than four grams of a particular narcotic get a straight possession charge. Amounts that are more than four grams will be considered a delivery amount irrespective of the real circumstances. If the narcotics are lower than four grams then it is considered a straight possession type of circumstance

Denial of Possession

It is common when one is arrested to deny possession of drugs. Being in the proximity of a narcotic doesn’t make you in possession. There are factors that can bring about this conclusion, but the general rule is that one has to have intentional or knowing care, custody and control over the object in order to equate possession of the object. However, that is not a license for one to go out and exercise bad judgment thus putting oneself in situations where you are in the proximity of narcotics and assume that one is safe from any trouble. One needs to exercise good judgment avoid illegal activity. Nonetheless, being for example, in a car with a person that is possessing narcotics or if one is at a party with the person possessing narcotics does not make one equally as guilty of possession of narcotics unless one has prior knowledge and contributes to the care, custody and control of those illegal objects.

What to do when one is charged either with possession or with intent to distribute

The best protective measure is to stay away from drugs in the first place as well as avoid bad situations and refrain from exercising bad judgment. But, if one does find themselves being investigated for a possession crime, the best thing to do is to hire a lawyer in the shortest time possible. That will allow one to deflect, immediate questions, and be able to contact and have their lawyer present during any questioning. That may lead to an arrest but it will make one’s defense of their position much more tenable later as the case progresses. Unfortunately, a lot of people that face these circumstances that think they can talk themselves out of the circumstance but create more problems by their own statements or admissions than do them good.

Certainly, if the truth is that one did not possess the item and have a strong convictions about that then there are those that may feel that expressing that to law enforcement would be a positive thing, but there are a lot of different ways how those circumstances can quickly work against one especially when one start talking about for example, if one did control the car, if one’s control of the car led to participation in the possession, and any other incriminating questions.  The notion of responsibility for the actions of another through some kind of conspiracy or party theory can get one into trouble that they did not anticipate. The best thing to do, generally, is if one finds oneself under these circumstances is to request a lawyer and exercise one’s 5th Amendment. That will be the best place to start.

After that, if law enforcement persist in investigating and proceed to make an arrest, one can then contact a lawyer that is qualified in drug possession offenses and allow them to take over the process which will typically involve getting the discovery, getting video evidence, lab reports and then finding out best solutions on how to face these circumstances.

The 5th Amendment Rights

The 5th Amendment rights give one the opportunity not to incriminate them. Equally as important is one’s 4th Amendment right, not to have a person or places searched or not to be detained unreasonably. There may be circumstances or situations that arise where one has been searched or is having their property searched or as an individual, one is searched or is being detained under circumstances that are unwarranted by law enforcement, one can use those circumstances of violations of those rights in one’s favor. Those circumstances need to be explored. The bottom line is that when one hires an attorney, they are hiring someone who is going to protect their rights.

Any time a person faces a drug possession charge, three things that a lawyer needs to do, first, talking with the accused to determine if the person has a drug problem or not; whether the problem puts the person or their loved ones in jeopardy; if there is need to seek help, the person ought to be courageous enough and accept their drug addiction and proceed to check into rehabilitation Center. Secondly, if one is in detention, check if the arrest was a violation of some fundamental right such as the 4th Amendment, 5th Amendment or any other right that may have been violated. Finally, the circumstances of how or one’s theory of why one is engaged in intentional or knowing possession of a controlled substance, which is the factual basis of the case, it is an issue that needs to be explored. These three cover what a person and their lawyer need to be talking about when one faces these circumstances.

Punishment Ranges

The punishment for selling drugs is based on the laws in individual States or Federal laws and therefore can differ. Sales of illegal drugs are generally considered felony offenses, while drug possession without the intention to distribute is considered to be a misdemeanor, or an infraction similar to a minor traffic ticket in those States that have legalized the sale and use of marijuana.

In Texas, there are different levels of treating drug dealing, the law assigns penalties based on the weight of specific drug types. Different drugs are classified as “penalty groups” for the determination of the felony type as well as the range of punishment that is applicable. For heroin, cocaine, as well as other group 1 drugs, the penalties ranges are:

  • 400 grams or more: a 1st degree enhanced felony punishable by life in prison or 15-99 years and a fine of up to $250,000
  • 200-400 grams: a 1st degree enhanced felony punishable by 10-99 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000
  • 4-200 grams: a 1st degree felony with a possible punishment of 5-99 years and up to a $10,000 fine
  • 1-4 grams: a 2nd degree felony with possible punishment of 2-20 years and fine of up to $10,000
  • Less than 1 gram: a state jail felony with possible punishment of up to 2 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000