What is considered a drug offense?

drug exchange

Drug use and offenses

Drug use can have a huge impact on the life of the user, their family, and their friends.  When drug charges stem from that drug use, the impact is greater, more severe, changing the user’s life, and family and friends lives too. Over time, a drug user will begin having financial problems that will lead to more problems emotionally and socially. 

If a person is convicted of drug charges, they will have a criminal record the rest of their lives. That criminal record will follow them every step of the way from being employed, buying a house, losing the right to vote or own a handgun, even getting a credit card. 

What is the most commonly used drug?

Because marijuana has been referred to as a gateway drug and is the easiest to get, most experts consider it to be the most commonly used drug.  Marijuana being legalized in many states for medical and recreational use has caused a definite increase in the number of users. However, it is still illegal for most of the country and on a federal level and many are still serving time for drug charges.

Other drugs are becoming more common though, such as psychotherapeutics, or opioids. What makes this not a more commonly used drug is the need to have a prescription to get them. Cocaine is a drug that users will inject, smoke or snort and while its popularity has dropped, it is still a popular drug in many circles. In some parts of the country, methamphetamine is the drug of choice, and like opioids, it too is legal if got with a prescription. There is a wide channel of illegally produced and distributed use of this drug, resulting in many users and sellers facing drug charges today.

Is a drug charge a felony or misdemeanor?

Drug charges are crimes that can be a felony or a misdemeanor. There are factors that determine drug charges by amount and type of drug. Those two things may be coupled with other factors that can swing the drug charges either way. 

The Decisive Factors

Law enforcement may charge a person facing drug charges for a drugless dangerous or with a misdemeanor. However, if the person facing drug charges is shown to have the intention to sell the drug, they could face felony drug charges. Other factors that could aggravate the drug charges into felony drug charge include:

  • Possession of drugs at, near, or on school grounds
  • Possession of drugs in government housing, in public parks, pools, or other public places
  • Possession of drugs in or near any drug treatment facility
  • Possession of drugs in the presence of a child younger than 18 years old
  • Possession of drugs while committing a robbery
  • Has prior drug charges

What drugs are felony charges?

Drug charges are when a person has possession of any drug, drug paraphernalia or other legally prohibited intoxicating substance. Whether they intend to furnish it, sell it, or use it. The most common defense for those facing drug charges is to disprove the search and seizure process that stemmed from the drugs being found by law enforcement. 

What is the sentence for possession of drugs?

Drug charges and penalties vary by the states with a wide range of penalties when sentenced. In 1986, guidelines were enacted by Federal lawmakers for mandatory minimum sentencing. The guidelines were aimed at high-level distributors and have an effect on lower-level drug defendants too.  

A similar approach has been adopted by many states for drug sentencing. It bases the factors that determine which of the fixed sentences is handed down to a defendant on three factors:

  • Drug type
  • Drug weight
  • Prior convictions

Many states have instituted programs known as drug courts, customized for previous drug defendants facing more drug charges. A judge oversees these courts with a goal of rehabilitating the defendant, most are repeat offenders. This circumvents a trial process and the defendant that agrees to this court will spend twelve to fifteen months in treatment sessions and subjected to random drug tests. It requires them to appear before the judge regularly. 

The penalties for drug charges in several states are doubled if the incident occurred within a thousand feet of a school, making it an aggravating factor. If the drug charges are stemmed from an individual assisting an abusive partner with distribution operation, it may reduce their drug charges.   

police with lights

What is the mandatory minimum sentence for drugs?

Typically, prison time of five to ten years is the minimum sentence mandated for certain crimes. However, with drug charges that are sentenced, it is the drug, amount of drug, and prior convictions that determine the minimum.

Can a person face drug charges without possession? Yes, a person can have drug charges for possession of a controlled substance without having tangible possession of the drug. The “Constructive Possession” is a doctrine that provides law enforcement to charge you if the drugs are readily accessible by you. A person will not be arrested or face drug charges without physical evidence unless a law enforcement person has observed a crime because the evidence does need to be collected and submitted. If you are charged with drug offenses, you may be in need of drug charge bail in St. Petersburg, FL. Call Al Estes Bail Bonds today for help at 727-571-9999!