The U.S. war on drugs has been going on for decades. However, with the constant creation of new designer drugs, the popular urge to legalize some drugs, and the lure of “moneymaking opportunities” from drug trafficking, the “war” is turning into a never-ending game of Risk. Sometimes the enforcers gain ground, and sometimes they’re pushed back. Police and prosecutors, frustrated by slow and uncertain gains, sometimes abuse their powers to unfairly arrest and prosecute people for drug law violations.
This is why it is important to know exactly what offenses police and prosecutors can legally charge you with when it comes to illicit, recreational, and prescription drugs.
Most Common Drug Charges
Although in the grand scheme of things, proper drug enforcement is essential to help prevent drug-related crimes, the need to show progress can cause laws to be stretched and innocent people to suffer the consequences. To put things into perspective, you merely have to look at state and federal drug conviction statistics.
Between 2001 and 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, more than half of federal prisoners serving more than a year of incarceration had been imprisoned for drug offenses. This means, that by the end of 2013, an estimated 98,200 federal prison inmates were incarcerated for drug crimes. In addition, state prison drug convictions made up approximately 16% of the prison population, or an estimated 210,000 inmates accused and convicted of possession, trafficking, or other drug crimes.
Crimes these inmates were charged with include:
- Possession. The most common drug charge, possession refers to having an illegal substance “within your control.” This doesn’t necessarily mean that it is on your person. Therefore, you could be convicted of possession if someone else hid the substance in your car, dropped it in your house, or left it in your bathroom. If you own the house, or can legitimately gain access to the substance—whether you knew it was there or not—you can be charged. Depending on the type and quantity of drugs in question, the charge could be a misdemeanor or felony.
- Distribution and Trafficking. This category includes selling, delivering or providing controlled substances illegally. Distribution is generally charged for dealing smaller amounts of a controlled substance, while trafficking is charged for larger quantities. The consequences for this charge depend on the type and amount of drug in question and where the defendant was arrested for the offense. School zones and international borders carry heavier penalties.
- Maunufacturing. The cultivation of marijuana or the manufacture through a chemical process of drugs such as LSD, cocaine, or meth, can result in a charge of manufacturing a controlled substance. Possession of substances used in the cultivation or manufacture of controlled substances, such as cannabis seeds or the ingredients or paraphernalia needed to produce meth, could also result in a charge of manufacturing.
When You’re Accused, Know Where to Turn
You cannot expect the police to listen to your side of the story and agree to release you. That’s not how it works. Talking to the police without your attorney present is absolutely the best way to make sure you’re convicted of a crime.
For trustworthy information on drug offenses, your rights, and how to build a proper defense against drug charges, contact Van Hardenbergh today! Don’t allow yourself to become a prisoner of someone else’s war. Call us at (804) 835-5127 to get the representation you deserve to combat misguided charges.