Drug possession is the criminal offense of owning, holding, or having any amount of a controlled substance. The consequences for drug possession depend largely on the amount and type of drug in possession and the jurisdiction where the offense took place. The crime of drug possession with intent to sell or distribute in considered a much more serious crime than the offense of drug possession for personal use. It is also a crime to be in possession of any drug related paraphernalia.
Federal drug possession laws (which provide a template for many state laws) are often extremely unforgiving. Drug possession laws exist to reduce consumption and drug abuse, decrease the prevalence of drug related crimes, and severely punish repeat offenders and big time drug dealers. Many argue that drug possession laws are unjustly stringent. The so-called "war on drugs" has failed to reduce substance abuse and has functioned to prevent otherwise law-abiding and harmless citizens from leading productive lives.
Statistics indicate that only three percent of all drug offenders are considered violent. An overwhelming percentage of drug possession offenders are incarcerated for exorbitant periods of time though they arguably pose no threat to society. The FBI reports that more than 600,000 people were arrested for marijuana drug possession in 1997 alone. This number has only grown in recent years. Twenty five percent of all drug offenders are incarcerated for the simple possession of drugs for personal use.
Federal and state governments have established schedules for controlled substances, which provide the classification of drugs and drug possession penalties. These schedules are subject to the whim of a small handful of law enforcement officials. These schedules dictate mandatory minimums for certain drug possession and other offenses. Most minimum sentences for drug possession are between one to three years of incarceration for first time offenders, and three to 12 years for repeat drug possession offenders. Drug possession offenders are required to serve at least 85 percent of their sentence, whereas violent and dangerous criminals serve and average of half of their sentence.
A drug possession offence can be charged as a disorderly conduct offense (in more minor cases) or may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. In the latter cases, a defendant may face jail or prison time for their drug possession offence. In addition to incarceration, a drug possession defendant can also face heavy fines, probation, community service, mandatory drug counseling programs, and more.
When a person has been convicted of drug possession, no matter how minor, it can haunt them for years to come. Drug possession offenders may have a difficult time gaining or maintaining employment because of their criminal record or may suffer in other ways. If you or a loved one has been charged with a drug possession offence, it is crucial to retain the services of a qualified and experienced criminal defense attorney who will work diligently to protect and maximize your legal interests. Please contact us to speak to a legal professional in your area about drug possession legal issues.
Feb 28, 2008 - New Hampshire Legislators Take Up Drug Law
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Dec 4, 2007 - Nonviolent Felons Must Submit DNA
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