If you are facing arrest for drug charges, you are probably wondering what the charges are likely to be. The basic charge for any drug is possession. There are also various factors that can lead to increased charges.
Amounts and intent to sell
One common aggravating factor is simply the amount of drug found. The greater the amount, the more serious the potential sentence. Each type of drug has specific amounts tied to it that define the offense of possessing it. Possession with intent to sell is one kind of aggravated drug charge. Intent to sell is often based on having an amount larger than considered normal for one person to have for his or her personal use; the federal mandatory sentencing minimum list specific amounts for each type of drug. In other cases, intent to sell allegations may be based on the testimony of people who will say they had arranged to buy from you. If law enforcement agents suspect you of selling, they may approach you undercover and try to buy from you.
A further aggravating factor can be caused by very large amounts that give rise to the inference that the drug sales operate on a large scale. These cases are often pursued by federal agencies and may form part of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) prosecutions. These cases are extremely serious, as involvement in even a fringe part of an organization caught up in such an investigation can result in legal responsibility for activities you may have never been aware of.
A common scenario for drug prosecution is a DUI stop, where a motorist is stopped on suspicion of impaired driving and discovered to possess drugs. At times, the driver of the vehicle can be subject to drug charges even if the drugs were actually in the possession of one of the passengers.
Even fairly minor drug charges can have wide-ranging ramifications in addition to legal penalties like fines and prison sentences. A conviction for drug use or possession can disqualify you from a range of professions and may result in suspension or even permanent banning from your job. Even if a particular type of drug use is legal in your state, be aware that it is still illegal on a federal level. This means you can get dismissed or suspended from your federal job. If your profession requires federal agency licensing, you may lose that licensing. For example, medical professionals who must have a DEA license to prescribe medications. If you are not a U.S. citizen, a conviction or plea on drug charges can also affect your immigration status. For these reasons, even if you believe the charges to be minimal, you should speak with a qualified defense attorney as soon as possible.