Being Accused of a Drug Crime: Everything You Need to Know

Being arrested for a drug related crime can be a worrying experience, especially if you know the charge you are hit with is inaccurate. Learning everything there is to know about drug crimes, ranging from what they are to the different types, can help you begin to mount your legal defense and determine which criminal defense attorney you should reach out to. 

What is a Drug Crime?

Defined broadly, a drug crime is any crime that involves using, possessing, manufacturing, or distributing drugs that are classified by the government as having a potential for abuse. Drug crimes can also be charged for crimes that occurred as a result of drugs being in a person’s system. 

5 Most Common Drug Crimes

On average, over 1.5 million people are arrested on drug charges in a given year, but there are multiple different types of charges a person could face. Learning these types can help a person better understand what they are being charged with:

  1. Possession of marijuana

Perhaps the most common of all drug crimes is being arrested on possession of marijuana. While marijuana has been decriminalized in a large number of places, possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor. Even if it hasn’t been decriminalized in your state yet, the charge will most likely just be a fine. 

  1. Possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute

A more serious common felony drug crime is possession of a controlled substance, along with an intent to distribute. This refers to drugs listed on the federal schedule of controlled substances, and having circumstances align in a way that intent to distribute can be proved. In most states, there is no minimum weight requirement for this crime.

  1. Illegal manufacture of a controlled substance

Another common drug crime is being charged with the illegal manufacture of a controlled substance listed on the federal schedule of controlled substances. This crime can get tricky as, for an example, marijuana can be grown in some states legally but illegally transported to other states. Other drugs typically have ingredients that are found overseas which makes their manufacturing illegal.

  1. Possession of drug paraphernalia

As opposed to having drugs on your person, another common charge is possession of drug paraphernalia. This refers to having items that are used to carry, intake, or produce a controlled substance. Examples include clear plastic baggies, pill bottles, razor blades, pipes, rolling paper, spoons, and more. 

  1. Drug trafficking

Finally, the most serious charge associated with drug crimes is for drug trafficking. This involves the delivery of a controlled substance while meeting a large enough weight requirement for the drugs. This requirement will vary depending on what the drug is. Depending on the state a person is in, the charge may be divided into different categories such as Drug Trafficking 1st Degree or Drug Trafficking 2nd Degree. 

Is a Drug Crime a Misdemeanor or Felony?

Drug crimes can be both misdemeanors and felony’s, depending on the specific drug crime, along with the drug that was involved. Misdemeanors carry a lighter sentence, but if you are found with a large amount of the drug on your person or distributing a large amount to others, you may be charged with a felony that carries a harsher sentence. 

Steps to Take When Accused of a Drug Crime

Whenever you are accused, regardless of innocence, you should take the following steps to build the strongest possible defense against a drug crime charge:

  1. Do not resist an initial arrest 
  2. Do not react strongly with emotion or have an outburst
  3. Reach out to a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible
  4. Do not submit DNA samples or any other tests without an attorney present
  5. Do not speak without your attorney present
  6. Do not destroy any potential evidence that may be used in the case

Trust your legal counsel to handle all aspects of your drug crime case rather than trying to prove your own innocence, even if you think your case is a surefire win. 

Seek out legal defense right away

When accused of a drug crime, regardless of your guilt or innocence, securing effective legal counsel should always be a top priority. Drug crimes can have a huge variability in terms of punishment, which is why learning about the crime is so important. Reach out to a criminal defense attorney in your area to see how they can help with your case.