Drug crimes are taken very seriously in Utah. However, some drugs are considered more dangerous than others. You may get a much harsher sentence for being convicted of selling fentanyl than you would for selling marijuana or even prescription drugs. That is because something like fentanyl is much more likely to cause serious damage than something like marijuana.
Drugs are broken up under Utah law into “schedules,” which denote their dangerousness and how seriously they are criminalized under the law. Many drugs in Schedule V will not be criminalized at all. In contrast, Schedule I drugs are incredibly dangerous, and possession or distribution of them will almost always be met with harsh sentences.
To get a free review of your case, call Overson Law at the number (801) 758-2287 to talk with our Salt Lake City drug crime defense attorneys.
How Are Drugs Classified Under Utah Law
Utah classifies drugs in Schedules by level of seriousness. Utah’s drug Schedule is found in Utah Code § 58-37-4. More dangerous drugs with fewer or no approved uses are placed on lower-numbered schedules, while drugs with approved medical use that are less dangerous are on higher-numbered schedules.
Schedule I Drugs in Utah
Schedule I drugs are the most dangerous criminalized substances. They are considered to have no approved medical use and are said to be highly addictive and destructive. Examples of Schedule I drugs include heroin, fentanyl, some forms of morphine, and quaaludes, which are all considered Schedule I drugs.
Schedule II Drugs in Utah
Schedule II drugs are a step down from Schedule I. While they are all still considered highly addictive and dangerous, they have some uses other than self-destructive behavior. Make no mistake, though, there are hefty penalties for possessing or distributing Schedule II substances. Examples of Schedule II substances include cocaine, various kinds of opiates, and oxycodone.
Schedule III Drugs in Utah
Schedule III drugs are yet another step removed. They have some tendency to have people develop dependency, but they are not as dangerous as Schedule II drugs and are frequently used with supervision in medical settings. Examples of Schedule III drugs in Utah include ketamine, testosterone, and a number of steroids.
Schedule IV Drugs in Utah
Schedule IV drugs do not have a high risk of creating chemical dependence, and you may even be able to get a prescription for them or purchase it over the counter. Schedule IV drugs include Xanax and Valium.
Schedule V Drugs in Utah
Schedule V drugs have a very low risk for abuse. This category also contains very small quantities of some substances that are much higher in the drug schedule.
Marijuana as a Schedule I Drug
It should be noted that marijuana is considered a Schedule I drug under Utah Law. Accordingly, one would expect it to have very serious sentences and penalties attached to it. However, the penalties for marijuana possession and distribution are less than the penalties for distributing, say, fentanyl. This is because attitudes towards marijuana have changed dramatically since the schedules were written. Marijuana is now much more accepted in society, and some states, like Colorado, have even legalized its recreational use. However, Utah law still criminalizes the recreational use of marijuana. For that reason, there are special carve-outs for Marijuana despite it being a Schedule I drug.
Make no mistake, possession and distribution are still a crime; it is just not as serious as heroin or morphine possession, despite being on the same schedule as those substances.
How Are Drug Crimes Penalized by Schedule or Type in Utah?
The statute criminalizing the possession, distribution, and manufacture of drugs in Utah is Utah Code § 58-37-8. Section 1(a) of this statute criminalizes possessing, making, distributing, and manufacturing drugs or attempting to do the same. The penalties for these crimes are found under Utah Code § 58-37-8(1)(b). Simple possession is treated differently from possession with intent to distribute and is criminalized in Utah Code § 58-37-8(2)(a). Penalties for simple possession are found in section 2(b) and the following sections of the same statute.
Because drugs on different schedules are more or less addictive, harmful, and useful in medicine, the law treats drugs on different schedules differently. Illegal possession of drugs on more dangerous schedules will have more severe penalties than possession of drugs on lower schedules.
Penalties for Schedule I and Schedule II Drugs
The penalties for Schedule I and II drugs are the most serious.
For crimes of possession with the intent to distribute, actual distribution, or drug manufacturing, Schedule I and II drugs can lead to first degree felony charges under § 58-37-8(1)(b)(i). These charges are penalized by up to 15 years in prison, plus fines.
For simple possession, § 58-37-8(2)(b)(ii), charges are for a class A misdemeanor. That means up to 364 days in jail, plus fines.
Penalties for Schedule III and IV Drugs
Possession with the intent to distribute, actual distribution, or drug manufacturing for Schedule III or IV drugs is a third degree felony for a first conviction. This means up to 5 years in jail.
For simple possession, the crime is a class B misdemeanor with up to 6 months in jail.
Penalties for Schedule V Drugs
Sale, distribution, or possession with intent to deliver for a Schedule V drug is a class A misdemeanor with up to 364 days in jail.
Simple possession for Schedule V drugs is a class B misdemeanor like with Schedule II and IV drugs.
Penalties for Marijuana
For sale, possession with intent to distribute, and manufacturing crimes, marijuana leads to third degree felony charges, the same as for Scheule III and IV drugs.
Simple possession charges for marijuana are a class B misdemeanor with up to 6 months in jail if it is under 100lbs. However, if the marijuana is 100lbs or more, it is a second degree felony with 1-15 years in prison.
What Should You Do if Accused of a Drug Crime in Utah?
If you are accused of a drug-related crime in Utah, you need to get in touch with a lawyer quickly. Even if the drug you are accused of possessing or distributing is of a less serious nature, a criminal conviction can seriously hamper your life, so the prospect of having one on your record should not be taken lightly.
Speak to Our Utah Drug Crime Defense Attorneys Today
For a free, totally confidential review of your situation, call Overson Law at (801) 758-2287 and speak with our Utah drug crime defense attorneys.