Being convicted of a marijuana crime like sales or possession can negatively impact your life for years to come. Not only are you subject to long prison sentences, thousands of dollars in fines, the loss of your driver’s license, and the potential for mandatory community service — you will also receive a criminal record.
Any bank, landlord, or employer can view your record by performing a simple background check, and a prior drug crime conviction could stop you from being hired for jobs, approved for loans, and able to earn professional licenses and certifications. If you are convicted of a felony, you will also lose your gun rights and even your right to vote.
When the consequences are this severe, you can’t afford to face the prosecution on your own. Criminal defense attorney Darwin Overson has more than 15 years of experience representing Salt Lake City residents charged with a wide variety of narcotics crimes, including both adults and juvenile offenders, and offers free consultations for all new clients.
To set up your free, confidential case evaluation, call Darwin today at (801) 758-2287.
Salt Lake City Drug Crimes Lawyers Handling Marijuana Cases
States across the nation have radically revised their marijuana policies over the past several years. Many states have elected to decriminalize medical and even recreational use, making simple possession a fined violation rather than a serious criminal offense. A few states, such as nearby Colorado and Washington, have even legalized cannabis altogether. But while many jurisdictions are gradually relaxing their laws — and the penalties for violating those laws — Utah is not yet among them.
House Bill 105, which took effect on July 1, 2014, allows universities and other organizations approved by the Department of Agriculture to grow hemp for agricultural, educational, and industrial purposes. However, as of early 2015, the possession, use, distribution, cultivation, transportation, and sale of marijuana remain illegal in the state of Utah, as well as at the federal level. Charges range from misdemeanor to felony depending on factors like the quantity of drug, the nature of the offense, and the defendant’s criminal history.
Utah Drug Crimes Penalties: Sales and Possession
Utah’s laws recognize numerous marijuana-related crimes, though the offense most commonly charged tends to be simple possession. Simple possession, or possession for personal use only, is generally prosecuted less aggressively than possession with intent to distribute (i.e. sales). Simple possession is graded as a misdemeanor offense.
However, if a defendant is found in possession of an exceptionally large amount of the drug, sheer volume may indicate intent to distribute rather than possession for personal use. Similarly, the possession of baggies, weighing scales, or other items associated with measurement and sales may be taken as evidence as intent to distribute.
As a general rule, as the quantity increases, so does the offense grading and associated penalties for a conviction. Utah imposes the following penalties:
- Simple Possession, less than 1 oz
- Grading — Class B Misdemeanor
- Fine — Up to $1,000
- Sentence — Up to 6 months
- Simple Possession, 1 oz to 1 lb
- Grading — Class A Misdemeanor
- Fine — Up to $2,500
- Sentence — Up to 1 year
- Possession, 1 lb to 100 lbs
- Grading — Third Degree Felony
- Fine — Up to $5,000
- Sentence — Up to 5 years
- Possession, more than 100 lbs
- Grading — Second Degree Felony
- Fine — Up to $10,000
- Sentence — Up to 15 years
The penalties for crimes involving sales and cultivation are even harsher, with most offenses classified as felonies. Under the Utah Controlled Substances Act, sale of any amount of marijuana is a Second Degree Felony, punishable by up to $10,000 in restitution and one to 15 years in prison. If the alleged sale took place in a designated school zone, meaning within 1,000 feet of a school or school grounds, the penalties increase further still.
It’s also important to note that no money need ever change hands in order for a person to be charged. You can also be arrested and prosecuted for giving cannabis away as a gift, or for exchanging narcotics with others.
Is Owning Drug Paraphernalia Illegal in Salt Lake City?
The short answer to this question is yes. Possession of drug paraphernalia is considered a crime, even in the absence of actual narcotics. In fact, an entire act, known as the Utah Drug Paraphernalia Act, is dedicated to the prosecution and penalization of paraphernalia possession in Salt Lake City and throughout the state.
The Utah Drug Paraphernalia Act criminalizes possession of the following objects:
- “Grow kits” and tools for cultivation.
- Bongs, pipes, and chillums.
- Sifters used to remove stems and seeds.
- Roach clips.
- Scales, balances, and testing equipment.
Depending on the paraphernalia in question, the owner could be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor or Class B Misdemeanor.
If you’ve been arrested in Salt Lake City, marijuana lawyer Darwin Overson can help you fight the charges and explore your legal options. To schedule a free and private legal consultation with Darwin, call Overson Law, LLC at (801) 758-2287 today.