So You’re Facing Drug Charges: Here’s What You Need To Know…
The U.S. legal system is vast and complex. At the most fundamental level, there’s the constitution, which grants every American citizen certain inalienable rights. As per the legal framework codified by our founding fathers, Congress creates federal laws, the executive branch oversees the military and enforces the law, and the federal judiciary interprets and applies the law.
In addition, all 50 U.S. states have their own laws and regulations. This includes criminal law, such as laws against the sale of drugs or violent acts, and civil law, which concerns relationships between people and the community at large. Drug cases are some of the most common violations of criminal law, while civil law involves issues such as personal injury or divorce.
When you aren’t familiar with the basics of the U.S. legal system, you are at serious risk if you end up on the wrong side of the law. Using drug charges as an example, let’s explore the criminal justice system here in the United States.
1. Drug Charges: The Difference Between State and Federal Law
Because there are strict federal laws about illegal drug use, drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and heroin are illegal in all 50 states. Some states have recently started to legalize recreational marijuana use. However, because federal law still prohibits growing, selling, and consuming marijuana, technically, it is still illegal in these states.
So what separates state and federal drug charges? First, federal drug charges are tried in federal courts. Federal drug charges are based on the Controlled Substances Act, which separates drugs into five separate classes, or schedules. Schedule I drugs include marijuana, heroin, ecstasy, and other drugs with no federally recognized medical use and a known potential for abuse. Schedule II drugs include many drugs with legitimate medical uses, such as amphetamines and painkillers. Most states have based their own drug laws on the Controlled Substances Act. As a result, most drug charges are tried at the state level, while federal drug charges tend to involve the distribution of drugs across state lines.
2. Understanding Drug Cases
There are many types of drug charges, from possessing small amounts of marijuana to the sale of huge quantities of cocaine. Drug laws and penalties can vary from state to state. While some states no longer invest resources in prosecuting people for possessing marijuana, other states continue to take these drug charges very seriously. As a result, if you are involved in any type of drug case, it is important to work with drug case attorneys who understand the relevant state and federal laws.
3. What Kind Of Penalties Come With Drug Charges?
If you are facing drug charges, the potential penalties you face depend on the precise nature of the alleged crime, the drug(s) in question, and many other related factors. For instance, possession of heroin could attract anything from 2 to 10 years in jail, and a fine of $20,000 or more. In a state such as California, for instance, you’ll find some of the lightest drug possession sentences. Some drug charges could only be $30 to $500 in fines or as little as 15 to 180 days imprisonment. With the help of criminal defense attorneys, many defendants spend no time in jail whatsoever. Not only can criminal defense attorneys help some clients be found not guilty of drug charges, but first-time offenders may be allowed to enter a diversion program involving drug classes and probation instead of jail time.
All criminal charges should be taken very seriously, and drug charges are no exception. Because drug laws vary from state to state, the average American will need legal counsel after being arrested for possession or distribution of illegal drugs.
If you have been arrested for drug charges, don’t hesitate to contact criminal defense attorneys who can help stand up for your rights.