Possession Misconceptions: Dispelling Drug Charge Myths
Although the public opinion surrounding how we classify and criminalize drug use is starting to show signs of change, that doesn't mean the law is quick to catch up. Our nation's rampant drug use may be considered a social crisis, but it's typically still treated as a criminal one. As a result, jails and prisons all across the country are still being filled with citizens who have addiction issues or who made the choice to use illegal drugs. In fact, 84.7% of all arrests made for drug law violations in the United States during 2016 were for possession of a controlled substance -- which could be anything from marijuana and prescription medications to cocaine or methamphetamine.
We may know this to be true, and yet many of us still believe that drug cases don't need to be taken seriously. Those facing drug charges often find out too late that these accusations can have long-lasting effects on their lives. In today's post, we'll take a closer look at some of the common misconceptions surrounding drug possession charges and why it's so important to be proactive if you're being accused of these kinds of crimes.
MISCONCEPTION: Drug Possession Charges Are Always Misdemeanors.
Reality: You may assume you'll get a mere slap on the wrist, but you could be charged with a felony instead. Contrary to what you might believe, you don't have to be a big-time dealer or a manufacturer to have felony drug charges added to your rap sheet. If you're caught with substantial amounts of drugs classified as schedule I or schedule II (categories which include heroin, marijuana, oxycodone, Adderall, and Ritalin, among many others), your sentence could include several thousands of dollars in fines and a few years in jail. And if you're charged with a felony, that can severely impact your ability to find a job and housing, among other issues. Don't simply assume that your drug possession charges will be considered a misdemeanor -- and even if they are, you still need to take action to protect yourself.
MISCONCEPTION: First-Time Drug Offenders Have Nothing to Worry About.
Reality: Public perception may be shifting to prioritize treatment over jail time, but that doesn't mean you won't have to serve time in jail or pay steep fines. Keep in mind that there are plenty of current inmates who are serving lengthy sentences for a first, non-violent drug offense. And if your lawyer helps you to avoid jail time, that doesn't mean you're home free. Being convicted on a drug charge -- or even just being arrested on drug possession charges -- can make your life substantially more difficult. Because this information is so readily available online, your future employer, romantic partner, landlord, or school administrator can easily access this information and jump to conclusions. Unfortunately, you may not have a second chance to prove yourself; you may be judged on this one mistake and have to struggle as a result.
MISCONCEPTION: If Law Enforcement Finds Drugs During a Search, You'll Be Found Guilty.
Reality: It's entirely possible that law enforcement could have bent the rules to score a win. While this isn't always the case, it's been known to happen. And without legal representation to help you build a defense against drug charges, you might end up pleading guilty to a crime that utilized legally inadmissible evidence to "prove" guilt. There are specific rules police have to follow when conducting searches and seizures. If your lawyer can prove the evidence they found was obtained illegally, the case against you could fall apart. But in order to argue that, you'll need help from an experienced attorney.
Armed with this information, we hope you can see why one important misconception -- that drug possession charges don't require legal assistance -- is completely false. Because this realm of law is so complex, you should invest in your future by obtaining help from an experienced legal team. To schedule a consultation, please contact us today.