What Are Common Drug Crime Defenses?
If you are facing drug charges in Utah, a strong defense is important to achieve the best outcome in your case. While your charge is unique to your own circumstances, there are several common categories of defense strategies that are likely to apply. At Conyers & Nix, our drug crime defense lawyers are guided by our commitment to skillfully defend the rights of clients like you – in pursuit of advantageous results.
Utah’s legal relationship with marijuana is complicated. For instance, marijuana is classified in the most serious drug schedule (Schedule I), which includes heroin and Oxycontin. Nevertheless, charges related to marijuana are handled much differently than are those of other Schedule I drugs.
The State of Utah also has what is known as constructive possession charges, which typically relates to someone possessing controlled substances, including marijuana, in a vehicle or home where they have both the means and intent to control them. In other words, you could find yourself facing a drug possession charge even if you do not physically have the drugs on your person or in your bag or purse at the time of the arrest.
Marijuana Charges and Penalties
Marijuana drug possession charges in the state of Utah and their penalties include:
- The possession of marijuana under 100 pounds is a Class B misdemeanor for either a first or second offense which includes a $1,000 fine and/or 6 months in jail.
- The possession of marijuana under 100 pounds is a Class A misdemeanor for a third offense which includes a $2,500 fine and/or 364 days in jail.
- The possession of marijuana under 100 pounds is a third-degree felony which includes a $5,000 fine and/or 1 to 5 years in prison.
- The possession of marijuana over 100 pounds is considered trafficking and a second-degree felony which includes a $10,000 fine and/or 1 to 15 years in prison.
Having a prior conviction; engaging in distribution, sale, or trafficking; and other aggravating factors can all elevate the drug charge and sentencing consequences.
How Do You Defend Against Marijuana Charges?
If you’ve received a marijuana charge, the best defense strategy often involves one or more of the following asserting your rights were violated, the marijuana does not belong to you, you were in unwitting possession, and the police abused their power:
- Asserting that Your Rights Were Violated – If the arresting officer did not have probable cause for the search of your person, vehicle, or home, the officer may have violated your Fourth Amendment rights against unlawful search and seizure.
- The Marijuana Does Not Belong to You – Just because you are in the vicinity of a drug does not mean it belongs to you. You must have intended to possess the marijuana or know it was in your possession.
- You Were in Unwitting Possession of the Marijuana – If you are unaware that you possessed marijuana, such as if a guest leaves it in your home (unbeknownst to you), this is an important factor to your defense.
- The Police Abused Their Power – Police sometimes abuse the power bestowed upon them. If the police who stopped you or arrested you planted evidence, entrapped you, illegally surveilled you, or pressured and/or threatened witnesses to make statements against you, it makes for a strong defense.
Our drug crime defense lawyers at Conyers & Nix will use every defense mechanism available in its tireless efforts to have your charges dropped, to have your charges reduced, or to decrease your sentencing consequences.
Party Drug Charges and Penalties
So-called “party drugs” like MDMA, Ecstasy, Molly, Ketamine are Schedule I substances that often lead to serious criminal charges. Because party drugs are frequently used in social gatherings, it tends to get passed around, which can lead to unwitting drug possession and drug distribution charges. You do not need to have any kind of a history of drug abuse to receive these types of charges.
Possession of MDMA, Ecstasy, Molly, and Ketamine are classified as Class A Misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to one year in jail and with up to $2,500 in fines. A prior conviction for distributing or manufacturing, however, can bump your possession charge up to a felony that is punishable by up to 5-15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
Distribution charges, which are classified as second-degree felony charges, are even more severe and carry sentencing parameters of up to 15 years in prison.
Your Party Drug Defense
If you are facing a charge related to party drugs, your defense strategy will likely be similar to a marijuana defense strategy, but there are some notable additions that apply, including:
- MDMA, Ecstasy, Molly, and Ketamine, and other such drugs come in pill or powder form, which means that they require no drug paraphernalia (that can serve as probable cause during a search). These types of party drugs are more difficult for the police to find in general. In other words, the police need to dig deeper in order to come up with probable cause to search for these drugs.
- MDMA, Ecstasy, Molly, and Ketamine have no tell-tale smell (like marijuana flower), which also lessens the likelihood that the police have an initial probable cause to search.
Simply being at a party does not rise to the level of probable cause that is necessary for the police to search for party drugs like MDMA, Ecstasy, Molly, or Ketamine.
Possession vs. Distribution
Laws regarding the distribution of illegal drugs are more severe than possession charges. The heftier sentencing requirements are intended to punish drug dealers and repeat offenders – not those who are simply in possession of the drug for their own personal use.
The prosecution, however, has lots of discretion in the matter. If you are deemed to have a quantity of drugs that exceeds or is close to the distribution threshold, you could find yourself facing distribution and possession charges. The experienced attorneys at Conyers & Nix will do everything to fight distribution charges.
It Is Time to Consult with an Experienced Utah Drug Crime Defense Lawyer
If you are facing drug charges, the experienced Utah drug crime defense lawyers at Conyers & Nix are well-positioned to defend your rights in pursuit of your case’s best possible conclusion.
Our founding attorneys work as a team and they share a background as public defenders, where they honed their well-earned reputations as formidable drug defense attorneys. To learn more about how we can help you, please do not wait to contact or call us today.