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Individuals that are convicted with any of the varied drug possession charges understand that they are facing a whole range of sentences and penalties which can vary from every state. The sentences for possession charges can vary from a $100 fine within a few days of prison time to hundred of thousands of dollars with several years of jail time.

The penalties for the simplest drug possession charges are the lightest in terms of other sentences. Charges involving the distribution of prescribed medicine or manufacturing illegal drugs would often carry a harsher sentence. There are times when the prosecutor will offer a plea deal to the defendant who might be able to aid them during a higher-priority case or investigation. If a defendant is in a position to assist the prosecution in arresting a drug ring leader, a plea deal is going to be offered to the defense.

The penalties for drug possession charges may differ based on the factors and state where the case was filed or where the defendant was arrested. Defendants are urged to have an experienced defense attorney to help the case and have a much better chance of getting it dropped. If dropping the charge is impossible, the goal is to urge for a lenient conviction.

Drug Possession Charges State vs Federal Penalties

Federal legislators enacted the minimum sentencing guidelines that overrule drug offenses since 1986. The enactment was created as an attempt by lawmakers to give law enforces to focus on going after drug ring leaders and high-level distributors. The cases of crime leaders may have an impression on the cases of the lower-level drug defendants.

Most states have their own law interpretation of federal law regarding any drug sentences. The sentences that are fixed are often hooked into the drug type, the quantity of the drugs, and the defendant’s previous convictions. The difference is how strict or lenient are the minimum sentencing guidelines being enforced by a certain state. An example is with the state of Kentucky which follows the minimum sentencing guidelines, yet it's one of the states with the strictest provisions when it involves drug possession charges.

In Kentucky, first-time drug offenders are punished with two to 10 years of jail time and pay a fine of up to $20,000. Meanwhile, California also follows the minimum sentencing guidelines by the federal legislation but the state is among the foremost lenient jurisdictions when it involves drug possession sentences. The jail time for first-time offenders is often 15 to 180 days in prison and a fine of $100 to $500.

PWID Convictions

Convictions and penalties related to possession with intent to deliver charge often varies on the substance type involved within the case. The PWID conviction on marijuana or LSD drugs may lead to five years of prison time with up to a $15,000 maximum fine. Cocaine, meth, and PCP possession can lead to a maximum sentence of 10 years and a fine of $100,000.

Specialized Drug Courts

Multiple states have established drug courts that have systems that are only focused on felony drug defendants which are often overseen by the judge. The goal of the court is to rehabilitate the defendant rather than filing drug possession charges which can require a court trial. Judges have substantial control over the operations and mandates of the drug courts. If a defendant agrees to get on a drug court, the individual would sign up for up to one year. The time that is spent in designating rehabilitation activities, random drug tests, and treatment sessions.

The defendant has to appear to court summons before a judge. Defendants who have agreed to be admitted to the “drug court procedures” but didn't appear within the scheduled proceedings or tested positive for drugs while checked within the program are going to be arrested and can face some jail time.

Aside from the minimum sentencing guidelines, there are other factors that have an impact on the sentences and penalties that a defendant may face. When the court is preparing the sentence, the judge would inspect if there are aggravating or mitigating instances associated with the case. These instances may involve the defendant’s past records, which incorporates the substance type involved in the case.

Many jurisdictions would pass on a harsher sentence for convictions if the case happened somewhere near school grounds. This may be considered as an aggravating instance. The sentences are often lighter if the defendant is just aiding an abusive partner with regards to the drug trade operation. The defendant might be given a lesser charge with the abuse as this is a mitigating instance for the court.

State Drug Possession Laws

The federal law over drug laws has the power to enforce drug laws in the country. However, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is targeting interstate operations and bigger drug traffic crimes. Drug possession charges are often dealt with by the local and state laws governing the jurisdiction where the case happened.


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