If you’re arrested for a drug crime, your whole life can be turned upside down. Even a minor offense can lead to jail, fines, loss of licensure, and an embarrassing criminal record. Understanding how a drug crime charge works after an arrest is critical to knowing what to do next. A criminal defense lawyer can help you defend against charges of drug possession, drug trafficking, or the distribution of drugs. If you are arrested for a drug offense in Jefferson City, MO, the drug crime defense lawyers at Kirsch & Kirsch can help you get your charges dismissed or reduced. Contact Kirsch & Kirsch now to speak with an attorney today.
Overview of Drug Crimes
Criminal offenses can result in more than just embarrassment and long-term stigma: a conviction comes with major penalties like fines and even jail time. Here is more information on Missouri penalties for drug crimes.
Why Drug Crimes Are Serious
Drug possession offenses can range from misdemeanors to felonies. Different factors, such as the weight and type of drug, can affect the penalties that you’re facing. Oftentimes, the accused is an addict. Defense attorneys may be able to divert their clients into drug programs instead of jail or prison. If the defendant ends up with a criminal record for repeat drug convictions, however, it can not only ruin their reputation, but they can also face enhanced charges. Having a criminal record can adversely impact the defendant’s ability to find employment and can affect voting and gun rights.
How Drug Crime Lawyers Can Help
A criminal defense lawyer knows what to look for in these cases. Was there a Fourth Amendment violation? Was there a Fifth Amendment violation? Is there an appropriate chain of custody? Just because someone is arrested does not mean they are guilty of the crime charged; there are many defenses to these types of charges that drug crime lawyers can identify and pursue.
Other than helping you avoid jail time, a criminal defense lawyer can push for alternative sentences if it appears that an acquittal is unlikely. For example, they may be able to get the courts to agree to a treatment program, probation in lieu of jail time, or to move the case to drug court. This all can be to your benefit, allowing you a second chance while circumventing a criminal record.
How The Process Works
A drug crime case usually begins with an arrest. Once the defendant is found in possession of illicit drugs, distributing drugs, or involved in some other drug-related activity, they are charged with the appropriate drug crime. The severity of the arrest can be escalated by aggravating circumstances, which include:
- Whether there have been prior convictions
- Whether the incident occurred near a school or public facility or school bus
- Whether the incident occurred near a drug treatment facility
- If the incident was done in the presence of a minor
- The type and amount of the drugs involved
Other aggravating factors can include whether or not violence occurred or whether the suspect was carrying a firearm. Working with a drug crimes attorney can help improve your chances of beating a drug charge with aggravating circumstances.
The Federal Controlled Substances Act has a scheduling system that determines under which circumstances drugs can be used and distributed. The system uses two major criteria: utility for the user and potential for abuse. Heroin is considered a Schedule I drug due to its high potential for abuse and no medicinal value. Cocaine, on the other hand, is a Schedule II drug because medical-grade cocaine is still used as a local anesthetic in some types of surgeries. Missouri, like most states, has followed the federal system with five schedules.
Types of Felonies and Misdemeanors
Depending on the type of drug activity you’re accused of, you may be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. In the case of a misdemeanor, there is typically less jail time as well as smaller fines. The penalties are less severe for misdemeanors than felonies. For most drugs, you’ll be charged with a felony. A Class A felony can carry up to 30 years in prison. Class B felonies may result in up to 15 years in prison. A class C felony carries up to 10 years in prison for the possession of certain drugs, a class D felony carries up to 7 years, and a Class E felony up to 4 years in prison. There are Missouri drug crimes that fall into each category.
Additional Advice From Professionals
If you are at risk of a felony or misdemeanor conviction and need further guidance on the judicial process, a local drug crime lawyer in Jefferson City, Missouri can help provide advice and representation in court. Reach out to Kirsch & Kirsch today for a consultation to review your specific case and unique needs.