Utah enforces tough criminal penalties for crimes involving narcotics and controlled substances. The possession of a controlled substance, or even the possession of drug paraphernalia, can lead to incarceration, heavy fines, and a lengthy period of driver’s license suspension.
In addition to facing these court-ordered penalties, a convicted defendant will also face the collateral consequences that come from having a prior history of drug-related offenses, which can be absolutely devastating for your employment prospects. This is especially true of teachers, truckers, pilots, and government workers, for whom a drug conviction can mean the end of a career.
If you or one of your family members was charged with drug possession or other drug crimes in Salt Lake City or other areas of Utah, you need to get experienced legal help fast. Call the law offices of Overson & Sheen at (801) 895-3143 right away for a free and confidential legal consultation.
What to Do If You Have Been Arrested for Drug Possession in Utah
If you have been arrested for a drug offense, or even suspect that you are the target of an investigation, you should contact the law offices of Overson & Sheen immediately for your free legal consultation. Darwin Overson is an aggressive and highly experienced criminal defense attorney who has represented thousands of defendants charged with drug distribution and other narcotics crimes in Utah.
Our law offices handle a wide array of felony and misdemeanor drug crimes on behalf of adult and juvenile defendants, including:
- Drug Manufacturing
- Drug Possession
- Actual Possession
- Constructive Possession
- Possession with Intent to Distribute
- Simple Possession
- Drug Trafficking
- DUI by Metabolite (DUI with Drugs)
- Marijuana Cultivation
We have experience handling charges related to Schedule V, Schedule IV, Schedule III, Schedule II, Schedule I, and various opioids and prescription drugs, including:
- Bath Salts
- Crack Cocaine
- Drug Paraphernalia (Bongs, Pipes, Needles, Syringes, Vials)
- LSD (Acid)
- Marijuana (Cannabis, Pot, Weed)
- OxyContin (Oxycodone)
- Psilocybin Mushrooms
Our knowledgeable legal team can challenge the circumstances surrounding your arrest, your search and seizure, and the evidence being used against you. We will protect your rights, guide you through the court system, and fight vigorously to obtain a favorable outcome to your case. Depending on the circumstances, Darwin may be able to have you charged with a lesser offense, have your charges dropped, or have your case dismissed.
Penalties for Felony and Misdemeanor Drug Possession in Utah
Drug offenses are governed by the Utah Controlled Substances Act, particularly Utah Code § 58-37-8, which establishes penalties for narcotics convictions in Utah. The possession of meth, heroin, cocaine, and most other controlled substances is treated as a felony. Marijuana charges are generally misdemeanors, but can be felonies if the defendant was allegedly in possession of a large quantity of marijuana, or engaged in selling, growing, or transporting the drug.
There are three different classes of felony: third degree felonies, second degree felonies, and first degree felonies, which are the most serious. The same is true of misdemeanors, which are separated into Class C misdemeanors, Class B misdemeanors, and Class A misdemeanors.
As a result, the criminal penalties for many drug offenses can vary depending on factors like the type and quantity of substance involved in the alleged crime. For example, manufacture or possession with intent to distribute can be charged as second or first degree felonies. Criminal penalties are listed below.
- First Degree Felony
- Fine — Up to $10,000
- Sentence — Up to life in prison
- Second Degree Felony
- Fine — Up to $10,000
- Sentence — Up to 15 years in prison
- Third Degree Felony
- Fine — Up to $5,000
- Sentence — Up to 5 years in prison
- Class A Misdemeanor
- Fine — Up to $2,500
- Sentence — Up to 1 year in jail
- Class B Misdemeanor
- Fine — Up to $1,000
- Sentence — Up to 6 months in jail
- Class C Misdemeanor
- Fine — Up to $750
- Sentence — Up to 3 months in jail
A defendant who is convicted may also face other consequences, such as driver’s license suspension, probation, and mandatory community service.
Is it Illegal to Possess Marijuana in Utah?
Over the past decade, many states have begun to relax legislation surrounding recreational, non-medical marijuana (pot, weed, cannabis). Some have decriminalized recreational use, reducing the penalty to a light fine, while several have legalized possession outright.
Despite this general shift, the possession of marijuana remains illegal in the state of Utah. This is true even for small amounts intended strictly for personal use, which is called simple possession. Possession with intent to distribute, which refers to dealing or selling marijuana, is an even more serious offense.
While marijuana possession is usually a class B misdemeanor, subject to a sentence of up to six months in jail, it is also an enhanced offense. The third conviction is a third degree felony, subject to a maximum of five years in prison.
Narcotics, DUI (Driving Under the Influence), and Interstate Commerce
If drug transactions are sufficiently related to interstate commerce, they can be prosecuted in federal court and all the penalties there are fairly described as devastating. The Tenth Circuit just recently held that selling drugs out of your home had a sufficient nexus with interstate commerce to give the court federal jurisdiction.
Additionally, DUI can be charged if the driver has any controlled substance in their system. DUI by metabolite is a major issue right now. The pertinent statute makes it a DUI to operate a vehicle with any measurable amount of a controlled substance metabolite in the driver’s system.
This has resulted in thousands of cases being charged where the driver has THC-metabolite in their system even though THC-metabolite has no impairing activity and can stay in the system for weeks — essentially making it illegal for anyone who smokes marijuana to ever drive a car.
Contact a Utah Criminal Defense Attorney Right Away
Drug charges can have a negative impact on your entire life, from your career to your finances to your personal relationships. It is vitally important that you seek immediate help from an experienced marijuana lawyer in Utah if you have been arrested for narcotics crimes.
To arrange a free legal consultation, call the law offices of Overson & Sheen right away at (801) 895-3143. Darwin is able to make county jail and holding center visits. Though based in Salt Lake City, our law offices serve clients throughout the state of Utah.