Getting convicted of drug possession can have serious consequences for the offender. For example, in Texas, simple possession of drugs can land you in jail for six months to two years. In Florida, however, the penalties can be much harsher. In some cases, first-time offenders can receive probation or a light sentence.
Even worse, drug convictions can prevent someone from getting employment or housing. They may also be banned from jury duty or the voting booth. In addition, they may face deportation if they are not a citizen of the United States. In addition, they may suffer the stigma of “felon” or “drug offender,” which is highly discriminatory.
Because of the prevalence of drug possession charges, the right to a jury trial is rendered meaningless for many people. For example, in Louisiana, Corey Ladd was sentenced to 17 years in prison for possession of a half ounce of marijuana, despite previous convictions for a small amount of LSD and hydrocodone. Another person, Matthew Russell, waited 21 months before he was able to file for a jury trial.
Often, drug possession convictions come with crippling court costs. In addition to court costs, defendants must also pay public defender application fees and fines. The criminal record can have long-term effects on an individual’s financial situation, so many defendants choose to plead guilty to avoid this unpleasant experience.
People convicted of drug possession face an extensive prison sentence and criminal justice debt. In addition to this, they may have to miss out on employment opportunities and housing because of their convictions. Furthermore, repeat offenders face stiffer penalties. For these reasons, it’s necessary to understand the consequences of drug convictions.
These consequences can impact the life of an addict. Often, drug possession convictions prevent people from obtaining jobs, housing, or welfare benefits. They can also limit their access to social services such as medical and mental health care. It’s important to understand that drug use is a serious problem that requires a multifaceted approach.
Some drug users are convicted of felony drug possession without a prescription. Others have prescriptions but let them lapse. Still others had their partner’s or friend’s prescription pills. These individuals are considered criminals but don’t feel they should be.
At the end of 2014, over 48,000 people in the United States were serving drug possession sentences. This was a substantial increase compared to the previous year. It also showed a significant racial disparity: Black people were six times more likely to be incarcerated for drug possession than whites.
The most severe consequences of drug possession are jail time. Many people end up pleading guilty to their charges. However, it is possible to fight them with the help of an attorney. Prosecutors can offer reduced sentences if they believe that the offender is at fault. In some cases, probation sentences can be imposed without a trial.