What Is a Drug Lawyer?
Those facing drug crime charges will need a criminal defense attorney to represent them in court. Drug lawyers are criminal defense attorneys who specialize in drug defense. These attorneys will:
- Investigate the charges against their client;
- Attempt to negotiate deals with the prosecutor;
- Interview witnesses;
- Formulate a plea;
- Analyze the prosecutor’s case and how they may defend their client from those claims;
- Review search and seizure procedures; and
- Gather evidence.
Criminal defense attorneys are especially important because every American citizen is guaranteed the right to a trial. Drug lawyers ensure that their clients get a fair shot at defending themselves.
What Are Common Types of Drug Crimes?
- Drug Possession: This is the most common drug charge. Drug possession requires that the individual knowingly and intentionally possesses a drug without a valid prescription, and in an amount that would be for sale or personal use.
- Although it is not necessarily a crime to be in possession of a drug that is regulated by the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), it becomes illegal when you knowingly use or possess a dangerous substance without the legal authorization to do so;
- Manufacturing or Creating: This involves creating a synthetic chemical substance as well as extracting a natural drug, and packaging a drug. State laws do vary in terms of what qualifies as manufacturing or creating a drug.
- As there are generally several people involved in the manufacturing process, anyone who is found to be involved but was not physically manufacturing the drugs at the time that they were arrested, could be charged with drug conspiracy;
- Drug Use: This is simply defined as consuming or taking an illegal drug. A drug is generally considered to be illegal if there is no prescription from a doctor directing a person to consume or take the drug; and
- Distribution or Trafficking: This includes the sale or delivery of an illegal substance. This also covers drug smuggling, which is the act of transporting drugs from one area to another for distribution, possession, use, or sale.
- This can include inter-country, inter-region, or inter-state. Drug smuggling and drug trafficking are the same thing.
What Do Drug Laws Cover?
As previously mentioned, drug crimes are those in which illicit drugs are involved. Illicit drugs are substances that have been declared illegal to:
- Use; and/or
- Distribute without authorization under federal and/or state laws.
These drugs are typically classified under schedules that exist to rank the drugs in terms of how dangerous they are to individuals, as well as society. Illicit drugs are subject to intensive control and monitoring by the government, in order to ensure that the general public is protected from the dangers of these drugs.
Creating, controlling, or distributing certain drugs may be illegal. This is dependent upon the type of drug, the amount of contraband possessed, and the defendant’s intentions. It is important to note that the difference between a legal drug and an illegal drug often comes down to the way in which the drug is used. An example of this would be how some states have legalized the use of medicinal cannabis, but have not legalized it for recreational use.
Federal offenses for breaking drug laws are generally more severe than those for state charges. Additionally, each state has its own rules about drug crimes and how they are punished. Generally speaking, punishments are based on:
- The Type of Drug Involved: The more “dangerous” the drug, the more severe the punishment. An example of this would be how possessing heroin may result in a more severe punishment than cannabis;
- The Amount of Drug: Larger quantities of drugs may indicate that the drug was intended for distribution, whereas a small quantity of drugs likely indicates that the drug was intended for personal use;
- Purpose of Possession: This takes into consideration whether the drug was intended for personal use or for sale and distribution;
- Prior Convictions: An offender’s prior convictions can be factored into the decision regarding sentencing; and
- Probation or Parole Status: If an offender is on probation when they are convicted of a drug crime, they could face having their probation revoked.
Punishments for drug crimes can vary widely from state to state. However, general consequences for breaking drug laws can involve:
- Court-ordered counseling;
- Community service; and/or
- Loss of child custody.
How Can a Drug Lawyer Help with a Drug Case?
Drug attorneys are invaluable when it comes to defending yourself in a drug case. If you are being accused of committing a drug crime, you should immediately consult with a skilled and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney.
An experienced and local criminal defense attorney will inform you of any laws that could impact your case, and help formulate the best legal defense appropriate for your case. Additionally, a drug lawyer will also be able to represent you in court and ensure that your rights are protected.