Attorney Lou Bertrand and Associates have handled many criminal and drug offenses. In fact, Lou Bertrand is on of the few Lawyers in Portage County that has tried a Capital Murder charge. If you or your family or friend has been charged with a criminal and/or drug offense, you should seek legal counsel immediately and you can rely on the experience of Lou Bertrand and Associates for their reprsentation of you and your charges.
How Are Drugs Classified?
Almost all states divide drugs into categories called “Schedules.” These groups are usually based on, or adopted in whole from, the Federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA); which categorizes drugs by their recognized medical value balanced against the drug’s potential for addiction and abuse. Like the CSA, most states’ laws recognize five schedules, with Schedule I including the most dangerous drugs (such as heroin), and Schedule V the least. Many drugs, such as morphine, have genuine medical value, but are very addictive, so they fall in between.
Drug possession charges are subject to an incredibly broad range of penalties, depending on the state in which the crime occurs or if federal charges are involved. The severity of the penalty depends upon a number of factors, such as the specific type of drug involved, the circumstances surrounding the possession, and the criminal history of the person possessing the drugs. Penalties for possession of Schedule I drugs are the most severe and Schedule V the least severe.
- Fines. Many drug possession convictions result in fines. These can range from very minor fines of $100 or less to significant fines of $100,000 or more.
- Incarceration. Jail or prison time is also possible when a person is convicted of possession of a controlled substance. Jail sentences range widely depending on the crime charged, the type of drugs involved, and the state's laws, but can range from a few days or weeks to 10 years or more in prison.
- Probation. Probation sentences are often given in drug possession cases, and may be included with other punishments such as jail time, fines, or rehabilitation (such as drug treatment). A sentence of probation requires the convicted person to regularly check in with a probation officer and to comply with specific terms, such as not using any more drugs. If the offender fails to comply with the probation terms, a court can revoke probation and order the defendant to serve the jail or prison sentence.
- Diversion. Diversion programs are similar to probation and often used in first-offender drug possession cases. With diversion, a prosecutor allows a drug offender to enter into a counseling and behavior modification program, which requires the offender to comply with specific terms for a period of time, often six months or more. Once the offender completes the diversion program, the prosecutor agrees to drop the drug charges. If the offender fails to comply with the diversion terms, the prosecutor will pursue the possession charges.
- Rehabilitation. Many states allow courts to sentence a drug offender to a period of rehabilitation or drug treatment program instead of a jail sentence. Attending rehabilitation is also sometimes required in probation sentences.