What You Need To Know About Drug Charges
Just like other states in the US, has a set of laws and regulations that govern the use and possession of drugs. Drugs, or Controlled Dangerous Substances (CDS) as the law calls them, attract penalties in the forms of fines and incarceration. CDS according to the law includes well-known drugs, like Heroine and substances and compounds used in the manufacture of drugs.
Possession of CDS for personal use and possession with the intention to distribute are crimes that can be charged in courts. Penalties for drug charges depend on the classification of the drugs in question. If you are charged with possession of the drugs you should contact your drug charges lawyer who will recommend the best action that you should take.
Taking a look at drug charges penalties
The law focuses on correction rather than punishment of first-time offenders charged with possession of the drugs for personal use. However, minimum charges apply for guilty offenders in some CDS crimes. Once convicted, the judge is required to give you nothing less than the minimum sentence.
When you are charged with possession of drugs there are many factors that determine the length of the sentences for drug-related crimes. These factors include:
The quantity of drugs: If you are charged with possession of large quantities of drugs with intent to distribute, the maximum sentence is five years for Schedule I-III and 20 years for the last two Schedules.
A crime committed: A charge of possession carries a smaller sentence compared to distributing and manufacture drugs.
Drug schedule: The drug schedule also determines the length of the sentence. Schedule IV and V attract large sentences.
Criminal history: A first-time offender might simply get away with a mandatory visit to a correction facility. If you are a subsequent offender, your sentence will be stiffer.
Location: Distributing and abuse of drugs in a school or within 1,000 feet of a school is a separate crime. First-time offenders face a maximum punishment of 20 years in Prison while subsequent offenders face minimum sentences of 5years and fines of up to $40,000. These sentences are served consecutively with the underlying sentence of the drug charge.
Drug charges can attract heavy fines and sentences, especially the distribution and manufacture of CDS. When charged, you should hire a criminal defense lawyer who is experienced in CDS defense law.
Understanding Your Options When You Are Facing Criminal Charges
When you are charged with a criminal offense you are highly recommended that you hire a criminal defense lawyer and also offer you advice. Regardless of whether you hire a lawyer or not, you have four options when you are facing a criminal charge: pleading guilty, pursuing alternative resolution, filing a motion, or going to trial.
Pleading guilty to the charges
To plead guilty is to agree that you were on the wrong side. You can plead guilty if there is evidence against you and there is no value in fighting the case as you will end up losing. You can also plead guilty if the consequences of the actions aren’t grave. Lawyers also recommend that you plead guilty if the prosecutor offers a lesser crime whose consequences are less severe than the original crime.
One of the ways of pleading guilty is using the “Alford” plea. This is where you state that you don’t believe that you are guilty, but you are going to plead guilty in order to take advantage of the recommendations given by the prosecutor. Use an Alford plea if you are convinced that the judge or jury will find you guilty if the case goes to trial.
Pursing alternative resolution to the case
This option is common when you are charged with a misdemeanor such as third-degree theft such as shoplifting. You and the defendant can settle the matter and drop the court case. If you had been charged with shoplifting, you can agree with the shop owner to pay back the stolen products and he/she to drop the charges. Defense lawyers recommend alternative resolutions as they save time that you would have spent in court.
Filing a motion in court
You file a motion when you want some issues cleared up by the judge. These can be test results, statements and other physical items. If there are some controversial documents that can incriminate you in court, you should file for a motion. The outcome of the motion can see your charges being dismissed or have no impact on your case.
Going to trial
Lawyers recommend that you allow a case to go to trial only if you have high chances of winning the case or have no other way out. When you go to trial, you can either win or lose the case. Your success or loss depends on the prowess of your criminal defense attorney to give arguments that show that you are innocent. To increase your chances of winning, work with an experienced professional.