Is drug possession a felony or misdemeanor?
Misdemeanors and felonies are different punishments given to someone who has committed a crime. The classifications are based on the seriousness of the crime. The penalties that follow misdemeanors are usually small fines, probation, and jail time that is less than a year. Penalties that follow felonies are much more serious, usually it will entail at least one year of incarceration and serious fines.
The determination that a person receives a misdemeanor charge versus a felony comes down to the amount of drug that they have and whether they are a first time offender. Most of the time first time offenders with minimal amounts of drugs will receive a misdemeanor charge for their crimes. However, if the first time offender has a certain amount of drugs specified by the state, usually a large amount of the drug, then they will be charged with a felony.
Felony charges comes into play as discussed above with a large amount of drugs in possession. It does not matter whether you are a first time offender or not. The other time that it comes into play is when the offender is a repeat offender. It may be their third or fourth time being caught with drugs which will lead to a felony charge.
Is drug possession a federal crime?
Many times whether a drug possession is a federal crime comes down to jurisdiction. This jurisdiction can come in certain situations. The most common is that the crime occurred while crossing state lines. It can also be a federal crime if it takes place on federal land such as an Indian Reservation or national park. Another way that it can become a federal crime is determined by who the arresting officer is. If the officer is a federal officer, then the likelihood that the crime will be federal is higher.
The last way that drug possession is a federal crime hinges on the seriousness of the crime. The more serious the crime the more likely it will be a federal crime. For example, a large drug operation that is bringing in a lot of revenue will be charged as a federal crime. Federal charges will open you up to different crimes due to the fact you are in the federal realm. When the crime is a federal crime, it will usually carry with it heavier penalties than state crimes. This can be shown in the number of months that a person is incarcerated and the large fines imposed.
Federal Crimes can be present in any of the above specified categories. However, depending on the situation the federal government can step in at anytime making the crime a federal crime.
How to fight drug possession charges?
Many people are arrested every year on drug possession charges. They are concerned about their future and how it will be affected. At times, the small drug offenses can be handled by paying small fines and taking rehabilitation courses. Essentially paying the fines and taking the course is a way out that the court has prescribed for individuals who are caught with small amounts of drugs to receive a second chance. The person must be clean from drug use and complete the courses. The jurisdictions that allow such action will drop the charges and it will not appear on their record.
Another, more difficult, way to challenge a drug possession charge is on the merits. This is usually done by seeking to make the seized evidence, usually drugs, inadmissible in court. There are times that arguments can be made concerning the manner in which the police obtained the drugs. If you can show that the officers did not have probable cause before obtaining the evidence, then the drugs may not be used as substantive evidence. Lack of probable cause can be shown to invalidate a search of a vehicle or to show that a search warrant is invalid. It is not impossible to make these arguments, but at times it will be difficult to reach the level of proof needed to show that there was a lack of probable cause.