Drug use is a major issue currently facing society. Continued use of controlled substances can lead to mental and physical health issues. Aside from the personal ramifications, drug use and abuse can often lead to crime. Acquiring and selling illegal drugs have their own sets of laws and punishments, often referred to as drug crimes.
Drug crimes, enforced on both federal and state levels, vary in type and severity. The most severe type of drug crimes are charged on a federal level and can sometimes result in life-long sentences. Charges for drug crimes on the state level are normally less severe, sometimes only resulting in probation. Whatever the case is, drug crimes almost always come with lasting ramifications on your life. This guide will provide a briefing on many popular drug crimes.
Paraphernalia, in regards to drug crimes, refers to the equipment used to consume, cultivate, or hide controlled substances. Paraphernalia charges can occur when a person is found in possession of paraphernalia or proved to own or live on property where paraphernalia is found.
Common forms of paraphernalia include smoking devices, containers with drug residue, used and unused syringes, and smoking papers. Many smoking devices, such as water pipes and dry pipes, are sold legally. Sellers get around paraphernalia laws by labeling the devices with claims of tobacco use only. However, even if you legally bought the device, you can still be charged with a paraphernalia crime if the device has signs of use.
Possession is the most commonly charged drug crime. Possession crimes occur when a person is found possessing any form of an illegal controlled substance. However, possession charges can also occur if a person is in possession of a legal substance without proof of prescription.
Charges for possession crimes range in severity. The severity of the charge depends on the amount possessed. For small amounts, simple possession charges are often given that result in little more than a misdemeanor. If a person is in possession of large quantities, the penalties are more severe. In these cases, charges can be combined with intent to sell or distribute, resulting in extended jail time.
Manufacturing crimes occur when someone is involved with the cultivation or creation of a controlled substance. Manufacturing can refer to both natural cultivation and chemical production. For example, growing marijuana would be considered manufacturing just as chemically engineering methamphetamines in a lab would be.
Manufacturing crimes come with charges that result in jail time and hefty fines. They are usually paired with other charges, such as possession or distribution.
Dealing crimes refer to the act of selling controlled substances. As opposed to more serious crimes like trafficking, dealing crimes refers to the act of selling small amounts. For example, on a federal level, the DEA punishes a person dealing with less than 50 grams of cannabis with sentences of no more than 5 years. When the amount increases and moves to trafficking, a sentence as harsh as life in prison can be charged.
Trafficking crimes are committed when a person attempts to sell or distribute a controlled substance. Trafficking crimes are a serious conviction, as they are normally charged when dealing with large amounts.
A person does not need to be caught in the act of selling a drug to be charged with trafficking. Simply possessing large amounts of a controlled substance can be enough to garner a trafficking charge if intent can be proven. Charges can range anywhere from a few years to a lifetime sentence.
What to Do If Charged with a Drug Crime
Drug crimes can come with serious ramifications. While some carry more severe penalties, all drug crimes will have negative effects on your personal and professional life. If you are accused of a drug crime, seeking professional legal advice is highly recommended.
Since the scale of drug punishments vary, having sound legal advice can be the difference in receiving a small misdemeanor or jail time. With the right counsel, plea deals can often be reached. Sometimes these deals can result in your crime being removed from your criminal record.
Drug abuse is a serious plague on society. For good reason, drug crimes are taken seriously on local, federal and state levels. Drug crimes range from paraphernalia and possession to dealing and trafficking. Depending on the severity, punishment can result in something as little as probation or as severe as a life sentence. For this reason, it is highly advised to seek professional advice and become educated on the different types of drug crimes.