How Do Charges Differ for Repeat Drug Possession Offenders in Utah?
Drug possession is a serious crime in Utah. Being convicted for this offense could mean incarceration accompanied by hundreds to thousands of dollars in fines. In addition to spending time in jail or prison, your conviction will remain on your criminal record. This could make things like finding a new job extremely difficult. If you or a loved one was charged with drug possession in Utah, you need to make sure you get aggressive and strategic legal representation. Salt Lake City drug possession lawyer Darwin Overson of Overson Law invites you to keep reading as we discuss how charges differ for repeat drug possession offenders.
What Types of Drug Possession Are There in Utah?
Drug possession is a serious crime. According to the law in the state of Utah, it is illegal to possess, manufacture, sell, or distribute controlled substances. As stated in Utah Code § 58-37-8, no person is allowed to knowingly or intentionally “produce, manufacture, or dispense” controlled substances within the state’s borders. If you get caught with an illegal substance, you will likely face harsh penalties for drug distribution or trafficking offenses.
Utah divides drugs into categories called “Schedules.” The lower the number of the schedule, the more dangerous the substance is considered. For instance, Schedule V controlled substances have a low risk of abuse when compared to other drugs. Cough medicine is an example of a Schedule V controlled substance.
On the other end of the spectrum, Schedule I controlled substances are considered to have a high potential for abuse among the general population. Some of the most common examples of Schedule I drugs include marijuana, LSD, heroin, and ecstasy.
There are two types of possession that can lead to charges in Utah: actual and constructive possession. Actual possession refers to possession of controlled substances anywhere on the body, including in a wallet, purse or bag. On the other hand, if the defendant has an illegal substance stashed in or on property they own and they have the knowledge it is there and the ability to access it, that would be considered constructive possession. In other words, the defendant has no actual physical control of the drug but has the means to get control over it.
What Are the Penalties for Drug Possession in Utah?
Utah divides crimes into misdemeanors and felonies. Generally, misdemeanors carry more lenient penalties compared to felony offenses. In the case of possession, sanctions will change depending on the specific circumstances of your case (e.g., a marijuana DUI may have higher penalties than simple possession), the type of controlled substance you were accused of possessing, and the quantity. For instance, possession of a small amount of marijuana is classified as a class B misdemeanor, which is punishable with up to 6 months in jail and hefty fines. However, the possession of a large amount is classified as a second degree felony.
To make matters worse, if you are caught with more than 100 pounds of cannabis, your charges will be elevated to a second degree felony which carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines.
In addition to the possible drug possession charges, you could also face additional charges if the officer finds any drug-related paraphernalia, such as pipes, bongs or syringes. Drug paraphernalia charges are classified as Class B misdemeanors.
The situation for repeat drug possession offenders can be dire. If you are caught in possession of a Schedule I controlled substance, you will typically be charged with a third degree felony. However, a second or subsequent Schedule I drug possession is classified as a second degree felony. Penalties for a second degree felony in Utah can lead up to 20 years in prison and a maximum of $10,000 in fines.
Other repeat offenses have similar increases in penalties. Marijuana charges are typically Class B misdemeanors for small amount charges, but a third conviction is upgraded to a Class A misdemeanor and a fourth or subsequent conviction is a third degree felony.
Criminal Defense Attorney Representing Defendants in Salt Lake City, Utah
The criminal and personal consequences of a drug possession conviction can be devastating. Spending time behind bars, far from your friends and family, can be tough. However, there may be ways to reduce the charges you face. Taking action is crucial to obtain the best possible outcome of your case. Do not wait another second if you were charged with drug possession in Utah.
For more than 16 years, Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer Darwin Overson has handled countless drug possession cases. If you or a loved one is facing drug possession charges in Salt Lake City, or anywhere else in Utah, call us today. To schedule a free, confidential consultation with an experienced defense lawyer, call Overson Law at (801) 733-1308.