What You Need to Know About Drug Crimes.
Drug offenses are one of the major causes of arrests not only in the United States, but all over the world. According to the FBI, in 2014 an exact 1,561,231 people were arrested in the US due to drug law violations. This means that drug offenses, alone, corresponded to 13.9% of all the arrests in the country!
If you or anyone you know is struggling with drug offenses, it’s important to understand the types of drug crimes, the corresponding charges and, what to do when you’re under a drug-related criminal charge.
1. Types of controlled substances
You need to understand how the US Law Enforcement defines each type drug. The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) has a Drug Schedule, which is a scheme that splits different types of drugs into five different categories.
These categories depend upon the (1) drug’s “acceptable medical use” and the (2) drug’s “abuse or dependency potential”. The Schedule 1 drugs are considered the most dangerous, and as the drug schedules increase, the drugs are considered less harmful, thus leading to more lenient penalties – especially if you have a good Wyoming Criminal Lawyer on your side.
– Schedule I: heroin, lysergic, LSD, marijuana (cannabis), ecstasy, methaqualone and peyote;
- Schedule II: cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, fentanyl, products with less than 15 milligrams of hydrocodone per dosage unit (like Vicodin), meperidine (Demerol), hydromorphone (Dilaudid) and oxycodone (OxyContin);
– Schedule III: testosterone, ketamine, anabolic steroids and products containing less than 90 milligrams of codeine per dosage unit (like Tylenol with codeine);
– Schedule IV: Xanax, Soma, Darvon, Darvocet, Valium, Ativan, Talwin, Ambien, Tramadol;
– Schedule V: cough preparations with less than 200 milligrams of codeine or per 100 milliliters (Robitussin AC), Lomotil, Motofen, Lyrica, Parepectolin.
You will notice that some of the substances of those Schedules aren’t only the “street” drugs like marijuana and cannabis. In fact, most of the controlled substances that can land you a criminal charge are also pharmaceutical drugs. This way, while it is technically illegal to possess any of the substances above listed, you may be exempt from prosecution if you have a prescription and have lawfully purchased it.
2. Types of drug crimes
There are three common types of drug crimes: possession, dealing and trafficking.
– Drug possession is the least serious drug offense, although it still can be issued on both state and federal levels. Basically, there are two types of drug possession: simple possession and possession with the intent to distribute.
– Drug dealing is the crime of selling drugs, but on a smaller scale than drug trafficking. It’s important to highlight that the definition of “dealing” may change, depending of the State, but, usually, this crime yields more lenient sentences than trafficking.
– Drug trafficking is like dealing drugs, but on a much larger scale. It’s the most serious drug crime: it is considered a felony, and we’re sure you’ll consider looking for the best Criminal Lawyer in Wyoming if you have been charged with drug trafficking.
These are the main types of drug crimes, although the CSA also stipulates others drug-related crimes, like manufacturing, distributing, conspiring and storing. Conspiracy to distribute is another commonly known charge, and, if you do not have adequate legal representation, you may be wrongfully accused.
3. What to do if you get arrested for drug possession
If you get arrested, the first thing to consider doing is to consult with a criminal defense attorney. However, a lot of things can happen before the Police arrest you, and there are some key conducts that can help you minimize the legal penalties – or, at least, will not harm your defense.
Understanding your rights (and the limits of the Police’s rights) is crucial, and here are the #4 most important things you should know when in an arrest situation:
1. Searching: according to the Fourth Amendment, a police search is only lawful if (i) you have consented; (ii) the Police officer has a warrant; (iii) the Police officer has a valid reason to search you, your car or your house (the “probable cause”). In the case of a policeman stopping your vehicle or coming to your door without a probable cause to search it, the officer needs your consent, and it is your right to deny it – obviously, in a respectful manner. Being disrespectful to an officer of the law will never help your case.
2. Arresting: you can only be arrested if (i) a Police officer personally saw you committing a crime; (ii) if they have probable cause, based on facts and circumstances, that you have committed or were about to commit a crime.
3. The Miranda rights: you have probably seen and heard this in movies. The Police can only detain you if they read the Miranda rights, whose content is: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?” If police officers detain and start questioning you without reading these rights beforehand, they’ve made a big mistake, and be sure to make your defense attorney aware of it.
4. Talking: the Fifth Amendment protects your right to remain silent. If the Police detain you, the most prudent thing to do is to demand the presence of a criminal attorney; preferably, a nearby criminal lawyer that can legally practice in Wyoming. Remember that the Police can use everything you say against you in court, so it is better for you to not say anything if your defense attorney isn’t with you.
After all of the Police procedures, you need to relax and trust in your criminal defense attorney. Keep in mind that they spent a long time in college studying criminal law, and they have an immense amount of related experience that they will apply towards creating the best defense for your case.
Disclaimer:As of this date, 12/19/15, all information within this article is accurate and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Readers should not rely on this information as it is possible for laws to change.