When Is Drug Possession a Misdemeanor or a Felony?

When Is Drug Possession a Misdemeanor or a Felony?

Drug Possession Charges

Compared to a felony, a misdemeanor drug possession does not come along with as severe penalties. While each state has its own set of laws for drug possession, the consequences for a misdemeanor often include a minor fine, court-ordered drug counseling, probation, and community service.

Those who are caught in possession of a substantial amount of drugs near schools or daycares may be at-risk for a felony conviction. What may have normally been a misdemeanor can quickly increase to a felony depending on the type of drug, how much was in possession, and the location in which the crime occurred.

Felony Drug Possession

When someone faces a felony drug possession conviction, it means that they probably not only had the drug on their person, but also had an intent to distribute because of the large quantity. The repercussions for felony drug possession can entail a long-term prison sentence, a large fine, community service, probation, and completing a drug counseling program.

Anyone who is a repeat offender is likely to endure a longer sentence behind bars and even bigger fines. In general, a felony drug possession may include 1-3 years behind bars, with that length of time doubling or tripling for second or third-time offenders.

Those who are worried that their drug possession will turn into a felony conviction must speak with a drug lawyer, like a drug lawyer in Rockville, MD, immediately for protection. The court system doesn’t treat drug possession offenders kindly, so it will be in your best interest to have someone advocate for your behalf.

How Drugs Are Classified

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of the United States categorizes controlled substances by considering its potential for abuse, medical usage, dependence liability, and more. It is worth noting that not all drugs on this list are illegal, as there are exceptions for substances such as nicotine, alcohol, and caffeine. The classification of illegal drugs includes the following factors:

  • Deviation of the drug from valid usage and channels
  • Use of drug which strays from its original medical intention that is significant enough to constitute as a hazard
  • The potential of a drug being abused
  • Use of drug which strays from doctor’s advice

State and Federal Penalties

Being charged with a misdemeanor or felony drug possession charge can result in severe penalties on both the federal and state level. The type of penalties enforced by the court varies based on the drug, quantity, intent of use, offender’s age, crime location, and criminal background. Due to a drug conviction having a negative impact on a person’s life and future, obtaining legal representation is crucial.

To put this in a real-world example, imagine you are arrested for simple possession of marijuana that was found in the glove compartment of your vehicle. You will likely not endure the same consequences as someone who had a pound of cocaine in their backpack while walking near a college. The penalties range greatly as they tend to be proportionate to the gravity and circumstances of the crime.

Thanks to the Law Office of Daniel J. Wright for their insight into how drug possession charges are classified.

Greenberg Law Offices