Park City Drug Possession Lawyer
From simple Tylenol which can be purchased over the counter, to highly advanced medications which target serious illnesses, the pharmaceutical industry spends billions of dollars every year on research, development, testing, and manufacturing. However, in addition to the cornucopia of drugs which are perfectly legal to purchase and possess, there is also a lengthy list of scheduled substances which are illegal to purchase, possess, distribute, or cultivate.
In addition to the “traditional” illegal drugs many people typically think of, prescription medication fraud is a growing issue in Utah and across the United States. There are many drugs which, while legal under normal circumstances, become illegal to possess and to use when obtained fraudulently through a false or illicit prescription.
At Overson Law, LCC, our drug possession defense attorneys have represented numerous clients during our years serving Park City and communities throughout Utah. We have the in-trial, courtroom experience you need when you are facing serious drug possession charges and their consequences. If you have been accused of committing a drug possession crime, you need a seasoned Park City, Utah drug possession lawyer to defend your rights in court.
How Drug Scheduling in Utah Works
You may have heard drugs alternately referred to as “scheduled substances.” When substances are “scheduled,” it means they are assigned a numeric value, which is used by the federal government in evaluating how addictive and dangerous a drug is considered be. Under the Controlled Substance Act of 1970, there are five schedules which are still used today to classify various drugs.
As the number assigned to a substance decreases, the substance increases in terms of how severely that substance is treated by the government in terms of criminal law. For example, a Schedule I drug is typically “worse” than a Schedule II drug in terms of fines and sentencing.
- Schedule V: Cough Syrup, preparations with less than 200 mg of codeine
- Schedule IV: Xanax, Valium, Rohypnol (date rape drugs)
- Schedule III: Vicodin, Ketamine, Anabolic Steroids
- Schedule II: Cocaine, Methamphetamine, OxyContin, Adderall, Ritalin, Dilaudid
- Schedule I: Marijuana, LSD, Heroin, Ecstasy, Peyote
The website of the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) also issues the following warning regarding unscheduled drugs which mimic the effects of scheduled substances:
“Please note that a substance need not be listed as a controlled substance to be treated as a Schedule I substance for criminal prosecution. A controlled substance analogue is a substance which is intended for human consumption and is structurally or pharmacologically substantially similar to or is represented as being similar to a Schedule I or Schedule II substance and is not an approved medication in the United States.”
Additionally, it should be noted that Utah State Legislature 58-37-4 contains an extremely long list of substances which are scheduled. The handful of examples above, while common, do not represent every possible drug which may be prosecuted.
Utah Drug Possession Charges: Misdemeanors VS. Felonies
In the eyes of the law, not all drug possession cases are equal. Some amount to misdemeanors, while others can incur more serious felony charges. What makes the difference? There are several variables which are taken into consideration by the courts.
As drugs are differentiated by their schedule classification, the penalties associated with different types of drugs vary in turn.
- Schedule V, IV, and III: Misdemeanor (Class A or B)
- Schedule II and I: Felony (3rd Degree)
It should be noted that where marijuana in particular is concerned, while marijuana is a Schedule I substance, the regulations are slightly different.
- Marijuana, less than one ounce: Class B Misdemeanor
- Marijuana, less than one pound: Class A Misdemeanor
- Marijuana, one pound or more: 3rd Degree Felony
There are two basic types of drug possession: simple possession (personal use only), and possession with the intent to distribute. In the interest of deterring organized crime and preventing drug-related decline of neighborhoods and communities, possession with intent to distribute is typically treated as a more serious offense than simple possession. Generally speaking, simple possession is treated as a misdemeanor, while possession with the intent to distribute is more likely to be classified as a felony. The “intent to distribute” is determined based on factors such as:
- Does the individual have any baggies or scales that imply a sales operation?
- Does the individual have an amount of the drug too large for personal consumption?
Aggravating Factors in Utah Drug Charges
As with many types of criminal offenses, drug possession offenses are subject to aggravating factors. As the term suggests, an aggravating factor is a factor which, when present, has the potential to make sentencing harsher for a defendant. Common aggravating factors where drug possession offenses are concerned include:
- Presence of a child. If a child is present where drug possession occurs, an additional charge of child endangerment may be added to the original possession charge.
- School zone proximity. If the possession occurs within 1,000 feet of a school zone, the penalty for drug possession can increase from a 3rd Degree Felony to a 1st Degree Felony.
- Prior drug convictions. Having prior drug convictions can increase penalties for subsequent offenses.
If you or a loved one is facing allegations of simple possession or possession with the intent to distribute, the consequences of a conviction can be very serious. If you need a Park City, Utah drug possession attorney to defend your case, contact our law offices or call us today at (410) 431-0911. Our phone lines are staffed 24/7, our attorneys can make emergency jail cell or holding center visits, and your initial consultation is free.