Drug Charges in the Criminal Justice System

Drug offenses are some of the most common criminal charges filed within the criminal justice system. The Federal and State drug possession laws make it a crime to willfully possess illegal controlled substances such as marijuana (with exception to certain states), methamphetamine, cocaine, LSD, heroin and other controlled substances. These laws also criminalize the possession of chemicals used in drug cultivation and manufacturing, as well as certain accessories related to drug use. Drug possession laws vary according to drug type, amount, and geographic area of the offense. Possession of small quantities may be deemed “simple” possession and may be charged as a misdemeanor depending on the drug, while possession of large amounts may result in a charge of possession with intent to distribute.

Possession of certain illicit drugs violates federal and state laws. While drug possession laws vary widely from state to state, the elements of the offense are generally the same. Prosecutors must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knew the drug in question was a controlled substance, and that he or she knowingly had possession of the drug. Such charges may be filed against one or more individuals who were mere accomplices or just simply around the controlled substances in question.

Drug possession laws generally fall into one of two main categories: simple possession for personal use and possession with intent to distribute. The latter category typically carries much stiffer penalties upon a conviction, and are usually serious felony charges. A simple possession charge is not as serious, and one first time offenses, are often times amended down to a misdemeanor. To prove possession with intent to sell, prosecutors may present evidence such as digital scales, baggies, large quantities of the drug, large amounts of cash in small bills or testimony from witnesses.

Drug possession laws also prohibit paraphernalia such as syringes, crack pipes or bongs. The Federal Drug Paraphernalia Statute defines what constitutes drug paraphernalia but usually hinges on a determination of primary use. For example, a newly purchased water pipe may not be considered a marijuana bong unless it has drug residue or is sold explicitly as a marijuana bong. Laws also exist to restrict the possession of certain chemicals or materials commonly used in the cultivation or manufacturing of drugs, such as the laboratory equipment used to make methamphetamine.

While some states have legalized possession of marijuana for medical use, and both Colorado and Washington have legalized its recreational use, it is still considered illegal in all cases under federal law.

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a criminal charge, immediately contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney. A Criminal lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle Criminal Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle Criminal Lawyer.

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