If a person is found possessing a substance such as cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, or any other narcotics, without a prescription, he or she may be charged with illegal possession of a controlled substance. It carries serious penalties resulting in substantial fines and imprisonment. All states (and the federal government) control and regulate the drug distribution and possession of controlled substances, though each offense differs in definition and penalties. It is important to consult a credible Goshen criminal defense attorney to learn more about the drug laws and justice system in Indiana.
This article will explain how Indiana categorizes and punishes drug possession crimes by answering the following questions:
- What is a Controlled Substance?
- What are the Classifications of Controlled Substances?
- What are the Penalties for Controlled Substances Possession Crimes in Indiana?
- What is Possession of Drug Paraphernalia?
- What is the Role of a Crime Defense Attorney?
What is a Controlled Substance?
A “controlled substance” is a term used for drugs that are only legal to have in your possession if a medical professional has written you a prescription for them. There are many kinds of controlled substances. Recognizing the potential that certain medications have for abuse and dependence, there are state laws that are being implemented to prevent the illegal possession and use of controlled substances.
What are the Classifications of Controlled Substances?
Indiana law classifies the controlled substances into five “schedules”. The schedule the drug is placed under depends on its medical use, its potential for abuse, and its safety or how easily people become dependent on it. Controlled substances are categorized into:
- Schedule I are narcotics with a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. This list includes marijuana, mescaline, peyote, LSD, heroin, and other substances.
- Schedule II are drugs that have a high potential for abuse, restricted medical use, and a potential for severe dependence. The list includes opium, cocaine, and methadone.
- Schedule III are substances that have less potential for abuse, an accepted medical use, and a moderate to high dependence. It includes amphetamines and lysergic acid.
- Schedule IV drugs have a low potential for abuse, an accepted medical use, and have the potential for limited dependence. It includes barbital and other compounds that have a depressant effect on the central nervous system.
- Schedule V includes narcotics that have a low potential for abuse, an accepted medical use, and the lowest potential for dependence. It includes certain amounts of codeine and other substances.
What are the Penalties for Controlled Substances Possession Crimes in Indiana?
If you are caught in possession of illegal drugs, your penalties will be based on the amount and type of drug that you possessed, along with any enhancing circumstances. It can be charged as a misdemeanor offense or a felony offense. The factors that determine the level of the crime include:
- The type of controlled substance in your possession
- The quantity of the controlled substance you possess
- The location of the crime (some locations such as schools enhance the level of the crime)
- Whether you own a handgun, firearm, or other weapons
- Your past criminal history
The penalties of possession of a controlled substance depend upon whether or not you have previously been convicted of having possession of a controlled substance. A reliable Goshen criminal defense lawyer with extensive experience in dealing with drug crimes can help you understand the penalties that you might face depending on your drug possession charges.
Indiana law provides a minimum and maximum incarceration period for felonies, as well as an advisory (or recommended) sentence between these permitted terms. All felonies carry a potential fine of up to $10,000, in addition to incarceration time. Misdemeanors carry a maximum of up to one year in jail.
- Possession crimes range from a Class B misdemeanor to a Level 3 felony. Schedule I controlled substances carry the harshest penalties while Schedule V controlled substances carry the lowest penalties.
- Possession of Schedule I and II drugs can lead to a Level 6 felony charge. Aggravating circumstances can lead to a more serious felony charge.
- Possession of Schedule III, IV, & V drugs could result in a misdemeanor charge, but the charge might be aggravated up to a felony under certain circumstances.
- Possession of marijuana can lead to a Class B misdemeanor charge if you have 30 grams or less in your possession and no prior drug arrests. The charge bumps up to a Class A misdemeanor if you have a previous drug conviction. Having more than 30 grams of marijuana in your possession results in a Level 6 felony.
What is Possession of Drug Paraphernalia?
The term drug paraphernalia refers to any equipment, device, instrument, that is used to produce, conceal, and consume illicit drugs. You may not have been found with the drug itself, but with the pipe, for example. Illegal possession of paraphernalia has separate charges from the controlled substance charges. You can be sentenced with a Class C misdemeanor for a first offense and a Class A misdemeanor for a subsequent offense.
What is the Role of a Criminal Defense Attorney?
Even simple possession of a small amount of a controlled substance can carry serious penalties and indirect consequences that can last a lifetime. You are likely to be scared of what a drug conviction can mean for your future. In addition to jail time and fines, some convictions make it harder to gain employment and you will be stuck with a permanent criminal record. It may also lead to license suspension.
If you are arrested for possession of drugs or any drug-related crimes, especially if you have been charged with a drug crime before, it is time to get legal help as quickly as possible. This is the best step that you can take while facing criminal charges under the possession of uncontrolled substances. Since this kind of offense carries strict penalties in a criminal court, you should have a strong defense. For legal representation, do not hesitate to consult our qualified Goshen criminal defense attorneys at Wilson & Kinsman LLC. We will help you understand the charges you face, devise defense strategies, explore available legal options, explain the possible outcomes of your case, and represent you in court. Call us now!