If you have been charged with a drug crime, the penalties can be severe. Both state and federal laws criminalize the manufacture, distribution, or possession of illegal drugs such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana, ecstasy, certain prescription pills, and even certain types of paraphernalia (such as bongs). Penalties can range from fines to prison time depending on the type of drug involved and the amount possessed or distributed. In addition, a conviction for drug crimes can cause serious immigration consequences.
The specific penalty depends on the type of drug involved in the case and its classification under state and federal law. For example, Schedule I drugs, which have the highest potential for abuse and dependency, carry the harshest penalties. State and federal drug laws also differentiate between simple possession of illegal drugs and possession with intent to distribute.
Possession with intent to distribute is usually a more serious offense because prosecutors have to prove that you intended to sell or otherwise distribute the drugs in question. This can be difficult to do, especially if you were just going to use the drugs yourself. In some cases, simple possession can be converted to a drug dealing charge if the prosecution can establish certain aggravating factors. These can include the fact that the drugs were found in a school zone or that you were selling to minors.
In many states, if you are convicted of possessing certain amounts of drugs, the prosecution can also charge you with drug possession with intent to distribute. This is a more serious offense because it can involve several different levels of possession and the potential for large scale distribution.
A conviction for drug dealing can result in prison time and/or heavy fines. It may also result in losing your child custody rights, your professional licenses (such as a doctor or CPA), and other important privileges that you have. Furthermore, if your case involves the sale of drugs over state lines or a substantial amount of money, you may be facing federal charges and therefore face even harsher punishments.
Lastly, if you are convicted of drug dealing or possession with intent to distribute, the government may be entitled to forfeit any property that was used in connection with your conviction. This can include your house, car, and other personal belongings.
A conviction for a drug crime can seriously affect your life, both financially and personally. It is important to take the charges against you seriously and hire a skilled attorney as soon as possible.