Why Is It Important to Hire a Lawyer After Being Charged With Drug Offenses?
In this day and age, being charged with a drug offense may not seem to be as serious as it once did to some. The reality is that many people may be charged with minor drug offenses over the years, particularly in states where drug laws may be evolving and therefore more difficult to understand. Additionally, the number of people charged with drug offenses is surprisingly high, with the FBI estimating that there were 1,572,579 arrests for drug law violations in the United States in 2016 alone. But the consequences for those charged with drug offenses remain steep.
Although the consequences for drug offenses vary depending on the state and other factors, it is important that those charged with drug offenses seek legal counsel as quickly as possible. Below are some of the issues that should be considered when seeking legal services for drug offenses, and additionally what can affect the severity of penalties.
What Factors Affect The Severity of Drug Offenses?
It is important that individuals attempting to find an attorney to defend them against drug charges understand the severity of their charges. This can affect the individual's ultimate decision regarding their choice of criminal defense attorney. Again, charges can be determined in part depending on which state the offense occurs within.
The type of drug involved can greatly affect the severity of the offense and its penalties. For example, if an individual offends with cannabis in a state that has legalized the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes, they may not face penalties as strong as they would if they offended in a state that has not legalized the medicinal use of the drug. In contrast, the possession or sale of a drug like heroin could result in a much more severe penalty.
The amount of the substance that is found in an individual's possession can also affect the severity of the penalty imposed. A very small amount of a substance in an individual's possession may not result in charges as severe as those would be imposed if the individual possessed a larger amount. This is in part because larger amounts of a substance could suggest an intent to distribute the substance which is a more serious crime than general individual possession.
This leads into the other issue, which is the purpose of the possession. If an individual possesses a drug with the intent to sell the drug, they will likely face much harsher penalties than they would if they possessed the drug with the intent to use it personally. There also various, more individualized aggravating factors that can affect the severity of penalties for those charged with drug offenses. For example, if the individual in possession of the drugs is in the presence of a minor when they are arrested, this could aggravate the severity of their charge.
What Are The Long Term Consequences for a Drug Conviction?
There are long term consequences when those charged with drug offenses are convicted of their charges. The reality is that these, again, can be dependent on the states in which the individual is charged and then later resides. For example, in a state like Florida, a conviction on an individual's record could prevent them from obtaining meaningful employment or establishing residence in certain communities.
Those with drug offenses on their records are often forced to be at the mercy of employers. Employers can decide whether or not to employ people with drug offenses on their records, and there is a stigma associated with drug charges. Individuals interested in working in fields like education or perhaps medical fields may be much less likely to be able to fully pursue their careers.
The long term consequences of drug charges, aside from fines and jail time associated with convictions immediately, can affect the rest of an individual's life. Therefore, it is important that those facing these offenses have the ability to work with qualified attorneys. Individuals should not be left to defend themselves, whether they are legally able to or not; nor should they settle for public defenders. They should work with lawyers who specialize in defending individuals charged with drug offenses.