Penalties for First Time Drug Possession Charges in Utah
Possession of a controlled substance is a serious crime that can result in a defendant facing severe penalties if convicted. However, if a defendant is a first-time offender, the penalties for a conviction can be considerably reduced. If you or a family member was arrested for drug possession, you should consult with an experienced Salt Lake City drug crime defense lawyer. At Overson Law, PLLC, we are dedicated to providing you with the legal defense that you deserve for your case. Criminal defense lawyer Darwin Overson is here to explain the penalties for first-time drug possession in Utah.
Utah Drug Possession Laws
Generally, it is illegal to possess a controlled substance. Controlled substances are divided into schedules, depending on their utility. For example, possessing a Schedule I drug like heroin or lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) could result in serious penalties. However, while marijuana is a Schedule I drug, the penalties for this drug are slowly being reduced due to a number of regulations.
Other drugs that are considered controlled substances include:
- Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
- Anabolic steroids
This is not an exhaustive list.
The laws for drug possession in Utah vary depending on the type and quantity of drugs found in a defendant’s possession. For example, having less than a hundred pounds of marijuana can result in being charged with a misdemeanor. Alternatively, having even a few pounds of heroin will ensure that you receive stiff penalties.
It is also important to note that the offenses a defendant is charged with can be increased depending on what they intended to do with the drugs. For example, if a defendant possessed drugs with the intent to distribute them to buyers, they are more likely to be charged with a felony. A defendant is typically charged with simple possession when they only have a small amount of drugs that were likely intended for personal use.
Law enforcement may infer whether drugs were for personal use or distribution, depending on how the drugs are found. For example, if the drugs found are packaged into various small containers that would make them easy to sell, the defendant is more likely to be charged with intent to distribute.
Additionally, there are two forms of possession: actual possession and constructive possession. Actual possession means that the drugs were found on a person directly either in their pockets or concealed in their items. Constructive possession means that the drugs were in a nearby area that the defendant could easily reach. For example, placing drugs in the center console of a vehicle could lead law enforcement to infer that they belong to the driver or a passenger.
To learn more about the criminal penalties for drug possession, continue reading and speak with an experienced Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer.
Penalties for Drug Possession
The penalties for drug possession depend largely on the amount and type of drugs found in a defendant’s possession. As mentioned, having a large amount of marijuana is different than having a large amount of heroin in your possession. Specifically, if a defendant is arrested with marijuana that equals 100 pounds or more, this is considered a second degree felony, even for a first-time offense. Second degree felonies carry a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
However, if a first time offender is carrying a small amount of marijuana or another substance, they are more likely to be charged with a class B misdemeanor. In Utah, class B misdemeanors carry a moderate punishment of six months in jail or $1,000 in fines. It is important to note that possessing a small amount of a controlled substance like heroin can also result in a Class B misdemeanor under certain circumstances.
If a defendant has a second conviction for drug possession, the grade of the offense will increase to a class A misdemeanor. Class A misdemeanors can result in a maximum jail sentence of 364 days and $2,500 in fines. Three-time offenders are typically charged with a third degree felony. This type of felony can result in five years in prison and $5,000 in fines.
In some cases, it may be possible for a defendant to perform compensatory service to avoid paying a fine. However, this only is permitted for class B and class C misdemeanors.
If you are concerned about a first-time drug possession offense, do not delay looking for an experienced attorney to help you.
Work with a Trusted Salt Lake City Drug Defense Lawyer Today
If you or a family member is facing criminal charges for drug possession, contact an experienced Utah drug defense attorney today. Criminal defense attorney Darwin Overson possesses nearly 20 years of litigation experience handling a number of criminal cases, and he would be proud to fight for you. The possession of drugs is a crime that should be taken seriously, and our firm can help you explore your legal options. To schedule a free case evaluation, contact Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287, or contact us online.