Drug offenses refer to the use, furnishing, sale, or possession of illegal substance or paraphernalia that goes with it. The majority of drug crimes are classified as felonies. A common defense lodged in the face of a drug charge is that related to illegal search and seizure of the contraband. When law enforcement officers conduct a search or seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, any evidence so obtained will be thrown out.
Drug crime penalties can be extremely onerous and are based on the amount of illegal drugs possessed, whether there was an intent to sell or traffic the drugs, whether there is evidence of distribution, or if weapons were involved in any of the above activities.
Penalties from drug offenses are also impacted by the type of drug at issue and whether possession was pursuant to personal use or broader distribution. There are diversionary programs in courts these days that are designed to help drug offenders address existing substance abuse issues, receive job training, counseling, and more so that they do not re-offend. These types of options are generally made available to first-time offenders or those accused of committing less serious crimes. Because there are different laws at the state and federal levels, it is important to become familiar with the specific statutes applicable in your locality.
For example, a federal drug offense could be defined as the manufacture, distribution, sale, possession, or a conspiracy to do the same in relation to any substance that is declared illegal by the Controlled Substance Act. Another offense could consist of an individual’s operation of a vehicle while under the intoxicating influence of a substance covered by the Act.
Common to all drug charges, however, is the need for the accused to secure a strong legal defense team. By exploring the facts of each case, a drug crimes attorney can work to attack the prosecution’s evidence and build the strongest possible arguments for acquittal or at least a reduction in the penalties assessed.