There are various types of drug crimes under state and federal laws. The state may have narrower laws, but they cannot conflict with federal drug laws. One difference between these two types of drug laws is the sentencing. Federal drug charges usually carry longer sentences, while a state-handled charge is typically short-term and often includes probation.
Common Types of Drug Crimes
Possession of drug laws vary from state to state and depend a lot on the type of drug found as well as how much of the drug is present. Being found guilty of drug possession can fall under either a federal or state crime. Illicit controlled substances such as heroin, cocaine, and marijuana are illegal drugs, and possession or possession with the intent to distribute are serious charges.
Drug paraphernalia covers the equipment used to inhale, inject, prepare, or conceal illegal drugs. Paraphernalia also covers equipment to produce drugs. It is unlawful for anyone to export, import, or sell any form of drug paraphernalia. This equipment includes bongs, syringes, rolling papers, and a wide variety of pipes.
Distribution or trafficking of drugs is illegal. Trafficking covers selling, importing, transporting, or exporting illegal controlled substances. If charged as a felony, this drug crime carries harsh sentencing. If arrested for possessing large amounts of drugs, it can be assumed you intended to distribute it.
Dealing drugs is the selling of illegal drugs on a smaller scale. Trafficking and dealing are defined differently under the law. Dealing generally refers to one person selling a small amount of illicit drugs and the punishment is less severe than trafficking. The DEA sets federal penalties for drug dealing and trafficking less than 50 grams of marijuana can result in a sentence of up to five years and more than $250,000 in fines.
Defending Drug Crimes
If you have been charged with any of these drug crimes, you need a strong legal defence as these charges can lead to serious punishments along with steep fines. A knowledgeable defence attorney or drug attorney can argue facts presented against you, challenge testimony and evidence, and find other procedural errors that were introduced by the prosecution. There are several defence measures your attorney can make against your charges.
Drugs Did Not Belong to You
One common defence to any drug crime is simply that you did not own the substances. If the material is found in your home or vehicle, a good defence attorney can challenge that they did not belong to you. If the drugs were not physically found on your body, it can be assumed they belonged to another party.
There are cases for drug crimes where the prosecution is not able to present the evidence or drugs that were allegedly found on you. If the prosecution cannot show proof or evidence of the drug possession you are charged with, it is likely your case will be dismissed.
Unlawful Seizure and Search
You are protected under the Fourth Amendment with the right of due process of law. This law states it is necessary for authorities to have a warrant in order to search for drugs or to seize illegal products. If the authorities found drugs in plain view, such as sitting out on a table, they can be captured as they were found legally without an improper search. If, for example, they break down a door or pry open a trunk to locate the drugs without a warrant, the drugs they find cannot be evidence against you. If they violate your Fourth Amendment during your arrest, charges are typically dismissed.
Incorrect Crime Lab Analysis
Just because a substance looks like an illegal drug, doesn’t mean it is an illegal substance. The burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove the seized material is, in fact, an illicit drug. This evidence would be the results from the crime lab analysis where they should have sent it for testing. The analyst at the crime lab would be required to testify how the test was conducted, and explain the results at your trial.
Drugs were Planted on You or Entrapment
It may difficult to prove these defences as your attorney would be questioning an officer of the law. Police testimony has a lot of credibility in the courtroom, but your attorney can challenge the reputation of the officer by looking at their complaint files. Having drugs planted on a person, or having drugs set up in sting operations are common and a strong legal defence can determine if these defences can help you get your charges dismissed.
A federal drug crime charge cannot be defended as being used for medical reasons but may be used as a defence in states where marijuana has been legalized. Medical marijuana can only be used as a defence if you have a doctor’s written statement prescribing it as part of your medical treatments. If you are using marijuana as medical treatment, your attorney can help you get a drug crime dismissed.
Legal Representation for Drug Crimes
If facing any form of drug crime charges, you need legal representation. You want experienced legal representation to help you fight these charges by going through the evidence the authorities have against you. Having strong legal counsel will make sure your future and rights are protected. These are serious charges with significant impacts on your future, and it’s in your best interest to find the best possible defence as soon as possible.
And there you have it. Are you facing drug-related charges? If yes, we’re hopeful that the above information will help you get the best defence as you prepare to stand against the judge and the jury.