Penalties for Cocaine Possession Utah

The penalties for cocaine possession in Utah can be life-shattering. The state takes the possession and distribution of the drug extremely seriously.

Even possessing small amounts of cocaine can result in stiff consequences. You could be looking at years in prison and the loss of thousands of dollars in fines and court costs. However, having a dedicated defense firm on your side could help mitigate the worst effects. In many cases, we can negotiate with the prosecution, offering them additional facts that provide context and could help secure an alternative solution. Depending on your circumstances, you might qualify for a rehabilitation program rather than facing punishment.

Reach out to our Salt Lake City drug possession defense lawyers at Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 for a free case assessment today.

What Penalties Can I Be Subjected to for Cocaine Possession in Utah?

Utah classifies cocaine as a Schedule II drug. This means that it is one of the more regulated substances in Utah. The penalties for possession of cocaine are typically determined by several factors, including the quantity of cocaine, the offender’s criminal history, and whether the possession was with the intent to distribute. Our Ogden drug defense attorneys have years of experience defending these cases and can help you determine what to do next in yours. The following are escalating penalties for cocaine possession convictions:

First-Degree Felony Offenses

Under Utah Code § 58-37-8(1), individuals found in possession of cocaine under circumstances that suggest distribution or trafficking can face first-degree felony charges. According to Utah Code § 58-37-8(1)(d), a conviction under this subsection is notably severe, with penalties including imprisonment for a term of not less than five years but can be up to 15 years.

Second-Degree Felony Offenses

Cocaine possession can escalate to a second-degree felony under certain conditions, such as possession of large quantities that imply intent to distribute but lack sufficient evidence for a first-degree felony charge. Second-degree felonies in Utah are punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine of $19,950, reflecting the seriousness with which Utah views drug distribution activities, even in cases where actual distribution cannot be conclusively proven.

Third-Degree Felony Offenses

Possession of cocaine without clear evidence of intent to distribute typically results in third-degree felony charges in Utah. A conviction for a third-degree felony drug offense can result in up to five years in prison, along with fines up to $5,000. These penalties, fortunately, offer some degree of leniency compared to more severe distribution-related offenses.

Repeat Offenses and Enhancements

The law also has provisions for increasing the severity of penalties for individuals who have been previously convicted of cocaine possession or other drug-related offenses. For instance, if a person is found guilty of possessing cocaine for the third time, the charge is elevated to a higher level.

This type of offense is punishable by up to 364 days of incarceration in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. These enhancements in penalties are meant to deter individuals from engaging in drug-related offenses but end up being a further form of punishment for a pattern of behavior.

The presence of a firearm during a cocaine possession offense can also lead to enhanced penalties, reflecting the increased danger posed in these situations. In cases involving cocaine possession with a firearm, Utah courts have the discretion to enhance penalties based on the perceived threat level and your criminal history. This discretion typically allows for increased prison terms, higher fines, and more stringent probation conditions. You could also face prosecution from the federal government, as well.


Probation is an alternative to incarceration, offering offenders the opportunity to live in their community under court-imposed conditions. Depending on the severity of their offense and their criminal history, individuals convicted of cocaine possession might be eligible for probation. The court’s decision to grant probation involves assessing the individual’s risk to the community and potential for rehabilitation.

Conditions of probation can vary significantly but often include mandatory drug testing, participation in drug education or treatment programs, community service, and regular check-ins with a probation officer. The goal is to monitor the defendant’s behavior closely and ensure compliance with the court’s conditions while attempting to provide rehabilitation and prevent recidivism.

Ordered Rehabilitation

Ordered rehabilitation is another alternative penalty to cocaine possession offenses. Recognizing the importance of addressing substance abuse issues directly, Utah courts might mandate participation in specific rehabilitation programs as part of sentencing. These programs are designed to provide the necessary support and resources to help individuals overcome addiction, including counseling, therapy, and education on substance abuse.

Rehabilitation orders can be part of both probationary sentences and post-incarceration reentry plans. The focus on rehabilitation recognizes that individuals should not only be penalized for drug offenses but also should be provided with environments conducive to recovery and change. This approach aligns with the broader trend toward drug treatment courts and alternative sentencing programs that prioritize rehabilitation over punishment for non-violent drug offenders.

Drug Court

Utah’s drug courts serve as a specialized court docket program that targets criminal defendants charged with non-violent drug offenses like cocaine possession. Unlike traditional court proceedings that focus solely on the legal aspects of an offense, drug courts operate under a model that combines judicial supervision with comprehensive substance abuse treatment, mandatory drug testing, sanctions, and incentives.

Participation in Utah’s drug court program is not automatic. Individuals charged with cocaine possession might be eligible based on several factors, including the nature of the offense, their criminal history, and an assessment of their drug dependency needs. Typically, violent offenders or those with significant criminal backgrounds will not qualify. Once deemed eligible, participants are required to plead guilty to their charges, which is held in abeyance while they complete the program.

It is important to remember that the drug court process is rigorous and demands high levels of personal accountability. Participants are subject to frequent drug testing, must attend regular court appearances, and participate in treatment sessions. They are also required to maintain or seek employment and avoid any criminal activity. The program is divided into phases, each with specific goals and milestones, and participants receive continuous monitoring and support from a multidisciplinary team, including judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys.

For individuals facing cocaine possession charges, the benefits of successfully completing a drug court program can be substantial. Upon completion, participants might see their charges reduced or dismissed altogether. Moreover, the focus on rehabilitation offers them a chance to address their substance abuse issues in a structured environment, which can lead to long-term recovery and reduce the chances of going back to jail.

Our Utah Cocaine Possession Defense Lawyers Can Help

Contact Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 for your free case evaluation with our Park City drug defense attorneys.