As part of Utah, West Valley City takes a tough stance on prosecuting suspected drug offenders. The penalties for a conviction are harsh, and include enormously expensive fines, long prison sentences, and the suspension of your driver’s license. People who are convicted of felonies also lose other important legal privileges, like the right to own a firearm or to vote in elections.
Each of these individual penalties can be devastating in their own right — and that doesn’t even begin to address the consequences that arise from having a criminal record. Your record will be visible every time a potential employer, landlord, or lending agency screens you with a background check, and having a narcotics conviction in your past can result in being passed over for jobs, denied loans, and even obstacles to where you can live.
If you’ve been arrested on drug charges, it’s a serious situation that demands immediate attention from an experienced legal representative. West Valley City criminal defense lawyer Darwin Overson has more than 15 years of experience handling thousands of felony and misdemeanor cases on behalf of juveniles and adults, and offers free initial consultations to clients who are calling for the first time.
Call Darwin today at (801) 758-2287 to schedule your free and private legal consultation.
What’s the Legal Status of Marijuana in Utah?
Utah shares a border with the neighboring state of Colorado, which recently legalized the recreational use of personal quantities of marijuana, or technically the active chemical ingredient of THC. But while Colorado has adopted some of the nation’s most relaxed and lenient marijuana legislature, all activities relating to cannabis remain firmly illegal under Utah’s state laws. More specifically, Utah law makes all of the following criminal offenses:
- Marijuana DUI (Driving Under the Influence)
- Possession of Paraphernalia
- Possession with Intent to Distribute
- Sales and Distribution
- Simple Possession (Personal Possession)
Marijuana criminal charges can range in severity from low-level misdemeanors to top-tier felonies. The way cannabis offenses are graded in Utah depends on factors like:
- How much marijuana the alleged offense involved.
- Whether there are signs indicating the suspect intended to sell or distribute, such as possession of weighing scales or baggies.
- Whether the alleged offense took place in a school zone or involved minor children.
- Whether the suspect has a history of prior offenses.
DEA Drug Scheduling
While other factors can come into play, the criminal classification of Utah narcotics crimes is primarily based upon the quantity of the drug, whether aggravated factors are present, and the associated drug “scheduling.”
Drugs assigned lower schedule numbers are considered more dangerous and addictive than those with higher schedule numbers, and are therefore typically prosecuted more aggressively. Drug scheduling is determined not by Utah, but on a federal basis by the DEA or Drug Enforcement Administration, which currently classifies various substances as follows:
- Schedule IV
- Schedule III
- Anabolic Steroids
- Schedule II
- Oxycodone (OxyContin)
- Schedule I
- LSD (Acid)
- Marijuana (Cannabis)
Criminal Penalties for Sales and Possession of Narcotics in Utah
Most drug offenses fall into one of two categories: sales and distribution, or personal or “simple” possession. As a general rule, offenses involving the intent to sell, transport, distribute, or otherwise spread a substance are often categorized more severely than offenses involving personal possession, where the substance is meant for individual use only. As mentioned above, federal scheduling also plays a significant role in categorizing criminal charges.
Defendants should also be aware that in some situations, you can legally be charged with possession even if no narcotics or paraphernalia items were actually discovered on your person. This is known as “constructive possession,” as opposed to “actual possession.” However, due to the ambiguous nature of constructive possession, these charges are often difficult for prosecutors to firmly prove in court.
Utah imposes the following maximum fines and sentences for misdemeanor and felony convictions:
- Class B Misdemeanor
- Jail — 6 months
- Restitution — $1,000
- Class A Misdemeanor
- Jail — 1 year
- Restitution — $2,500
All crimes graded “above” Class A Misdemeanors are considered to be felonies.
- Third Degree Felony
- Prison — 5 years
- Restitution — $5,000
- Second Degree Felony
- Prison — 15 years
- Restitution — $10,000
- First Degree Felony
- Prison — Life
- Restitution — $10,000
Contact Our West Valley Drug Crimes Defense Attorneys
If you or a loved one has been arrested for possession, narcotics sales, or other related offenses in the West Valley City area, it is extremely important that you contact an attorney for legal help immediately. Drug defense lawyer Darwin Overson will vigorously fight the charges against you, question and examine the evidence, protect your legal rights, and guide you through court hearings and other aspects of the criminal justice system.
To schedule a completely free and confidential legal consultation with Darwin, call the law offices of Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 today. Our phone lines are open around the clock, and Darwin is available to make jail and holding center visits.