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Drug Crimes and Drug Laws

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What Is a Drug Crime?

A drug crime is a violation of state or federal drug laws. The difference between a legal and illegal drug is the way it is used. For example, some states have legalized the use of marijuana for recreational purposes, but others still require a prescription for medicinal use.

Drug crimes typically include:

  • PossessionDrug possession is the most common drug charge and requires the individual to knowingly and intentionally possess a drug without a valid prescription, and in an amount that would be for sale or personal use.
  • Manufacture: Drug manufacturing involves creating a synthetic chemical substance or extracting a natural drug. Manufacturing also includes the packaging of a drug.
  • Use: This means a person consumed or took an illegal drug. A drug is usually illegal if there is no prescription from a doctor.
  • Distribution: This includes the sale, smuggling, or delivery of an illegal substance.

Different Types of Illegal Drugs

Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the United States. A recent survey reveals that nearly 15 million people abuse marijuana. Marijuana laws vary greatly between the states. A number of states have recently allowed for the medical or even recreational use of marijuana. Other commonly abused drugs include:

  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • Methamphetamine
  • Ecstasy
  • PCP

Drug Crime Convictions and Punishments

Federal drug charges are typically more severe in punishment than state charges. Punishment varies and is based on:

  • Drug type
  • Quantity
  • Purpose of the possession (e.g. personal use or distribution purposes)
  • Prior convictions
  • Probation or parole status

If an individual is convicted for a drug crime, then the consequences may be:

  • Imprisonment
  • Probation or parole
  • Loss of custody of children
  • Court ordered counseling
  • Significant fines
  • Community service
  • Loss of residency
  • Deportation

Should I Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney?

Yes. If you are accused of a drug crime, you should speak to an experienced criminal defense lawyer to learn more about your rights, your defenses and the complicated legal system.

Photo of page author Jessica Tran

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 11-09-2016 04:25 PM PST

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