What Is the Possession of Narcotics?
If you have a small quantity of drugs that were for your personal use, not for sale to someone else, you are generally considered to have simple possession of those drugs. You can be proven to have possession through either actual possession (having the drug in your pocket) or constructive possession (knowing about the drug and it is found in an area within your control). If you are facing a possession of narcotics criminal charge, then it is critical to have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side.
What Are Considered Narcotics?
A narcotic is a substance that is listed in The Controlled Substance Act (CSA). The CSA is a law that specifies and regulates drugs. The government separates different types of drugs into five schedules, based on how likely they are to be abused, how helpful they are for medical purposes, and how safe they are.
Schedule I drugs are those with a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical value in the U.S. These drugs are considered dangerous, but the federal government still includes marijuana as a Schedule I drug, alongside heroin, LSD, Ecstasy, and Bath Salts.
Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse but also a currently accepted medical value in the U.S. These include drugs such as methamphetamines, codeine, fentanyl, morphine, OxyContin, and Percocet
Schedule III drugs are substances that have a currently accepted medical use in the U.S. but still have a potential for abuse or safety concerns that are lower than Schedule I or II drugs. These include some appetite suppressants, depressants like ketamine, and anabolic steroids.
Schedule IV drugs are substances that have a low potential for abuse or dependence, including commonly prescribed drugs like Xanax, Valium, Ambien, and Ativan.
Schedule V drugs are substances that have an even lower potential for abuse than Schedule IV drugs and may have a lower quantity of certain narcotics, such as prescription cough medicine.
The unauthorized possession, manufacture, or use of any substance that is listed within the CSA can lead to both state and federal criminal charges. Convictions can lead to mandatory incarceration and fines.
What Are the Potential Penalties for the Possession of Narcotics?
Under federal law, the possession of drugs is regulated under 21 USC § 844. If you are convicted under this law, then you can face up to one year in jail and a fine of at least $1,000. If you are convicted for a second time, then there is a mandatory minimum of at least 15 days in jail, a maximum of two years in prison, and a fine of at least $2,500. Any further convictions can result in imprisonment for a mandatory minimum of 90 days in jail but a maximum of three years in prison and a fine of at least $5,000.
A possession of narcotics conviction can also lead to the property alleged to be involved in the crime being seized by the government. Federal drug convictions also have collateral effects such as losing gun rights or losing the ability to obtain federal benefits such as student loans and scholarships.
What Are Some Common Defenses to a Possession of Narcotics Charge?
There are several defenses that can be used if you are accused of possession of narcotics. Important questions that must be answered include:
- If the police violated your constitutional rights?
- If the police had probable cause to search you or your property?
- Did someone threaten or coerce you into committing a crime?
- Do you have an alibi?
- Were you entrapped by the government?
The answers to these and other questions will help you determine what your best defenses are. Some defenses must be made by motion and are decided by the judge, while other defenses can only be made at a trial and can factor in a jury's decision of guilt or innocence.
In What Court Will Your Case Be Heard?
Federal criminal cases are processed in federal District Courts across the country. In Pennsylvania, there are three federal Districts. They are the Central, Middle, and Eastern Districts. All federal criminal cases that arise in Pennsylvania are processed in these districts based on location. If your case arises in central or eastern Pennsylvania, then your criminal case will be heard in the Middle District or Eastern Districts, respectively.
If you disagree with a decision or verdict, then you can file an appeal. Appeals from the Middle and Eastern Districts must go to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The remaining appellate court is the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court chooses the cases it hears and decides. There is no right to be heard in the United States Supreme Court. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you understand your situation and what must be done to prepare your defense.
How Hiring an Experienced Attorney Can Help
If you are facing a federal charge, then make sure that you have counsel with federal defense experience. Your attorney can help you understand the charges you are facing and how strong the case is against you. You will need to evaluate your case to properly determine your defense path and whether you should make a deal. Contact us if you have questions.
Why Hiring Lento Law is the Right Choice
If you are being investigated or prosecuted for the possession of narcotics, then it is important to speak to an experienced federal criminal defense attorney right away. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped people defend countless criminal charges in several jurisdictions. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to learn why hiring Lento Law is the right choice to help defend your federal case.