Facing charges for possession of a drug might seem like a minor charge when it comes to drug crimes, however, this charge could result in a defendant facing serious consequences if convicted. Depending on the type of controlled substance the accused is found in possession of and the quantity of the drug they currently possess, one could face a minor possession charge or they could face a possession charge with the intent to distribute. Both carry very different charges and penalties.
What are the penalties for drug possession? At sentencing, defendants convicted of drug possession could face a wide range of penalties. This is not only because these charges range from state to state but also because consequences range based on type of possession charges. For example, the penalties for simple possession can range from a fine of less than $100 and a few days in jail to thousands of dollars in fines and several years in prison. While simple possession charges tend to be the lightest penalties, this is dependent on the type of drug the accused is in possession of.
On the other hand, if a defendant is found in possession of a large quantity of a controlled substance, then it is likely presumed that he or she is currently in possession of that drug in order to distribute or sell it. Thus, this could result in a possession with intent to distribute charge. These charges carry much heavier penalties.
When faced with a possession with intent to distribute charge, prosecutors are likely to offer a deal to defendants. Because their help with a high-priority investigation could be very useful, the state might be willing to reduce the charges or the sentence for the charges in exchange for helping with the arrest of an organized crime boss. Another way to avoid harsh penalties for these charges is to go through a special drug court. This could result in a defendant avoiding jail by entering a drug program. The idea is that the accused would be rehabilitated through treatment.
No matter the severity of the drug charge, those accused of a drug crime will seek to defend him or herself. Understanding what criminal defense options are available could help the accused take timely action, helping them avoid harsh penalties.
Source: Findlaw.com, "Drug Possession Penalties and Sentencing" accessed Oct. 30, 2017