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<pCT defense lawyerWhile Connecticut is known for having decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana at a relatively early point in time, many tend to forget that the state’s law on possession of harder drugs is just as severe as that of any other. Drugs like cocaine and heroin are in a different medical classification group than marijuana, and the effect of possession and use on the public good is far worse. If you have been caught with harder drugs than marijuana, you definitely need to contact an experienced attorney to help you.

Possession and Intent to Distribute

Connecticut law recognizes two types of drug possession crimes - simple possession, and possession with intent to distribute. While intent to distribute is a crime carrying a long jail term, simple possession of hard drugs is still seen as a serious offense even if there is no intent to sell visible. This is because hard drugs have been documented to cause not acute harm not only to users, but to those around them as well. This idea of wanting to protect society, in general, is referred to as public policy, and drug offenses are often referred to as public policy crimes.

State law bars possession of any “narcotic, hallucinogenic or other controlled substance,” unless the person can produce a valid prescription for the substance from a doctor. If someone is caught with these drugs, the penalties can be quite severe because of the public policy considerations - for example, possession of heroin, even as a first offense, can lead to a jail term of up to seven years, plus a $50,000 fine. This is true even of simple possession - the rationale is that the state’s interests in ensuring the health and well-being of its citizens (as much as possible) warrants severe consequences for anyone bringing drugs into the community.

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Posted on in Drug Charges

CT defense lawyerTo be convicted of illegal drug possession, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  • You possessed the drugs;
  • What you possessed is actually an illegal drug; and
  • You were aware of the possession.

There are two ways you can get in trouble for illegal drug possession in Connecticut. The first is if you actually possess the drugs, and the other is if you constructively possess the drugs.

What Is Actual Drug Possession?

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CT defense lawyerConnecticut takes drug possession, possession with intent to sell, and other drug offenses very seriously, which is why you need an experienced defense attorney if you are charged with any drug-related offense.

In fact, a few years ago Connecticut increased the penalties for selling drugs. Here are a few things you need to know about possession with intent to sell:

  • You do not have to be caught in the act of selling drugs to be charged with possession with intent to sell (PWITS). You can also be charged with PWITS if found with large amounts of drugs in your possession and distribution materials like plastic bags with logos on them.
  • First-time offenders convicted of PWITS a hallucinogenic substance (other than marijuana) or a narcotic substance face up to 15 years of jail time and/or a $50,000 fine.
  • Second-time offenders face up to 30 years in prison and/or a $100,000 fine.
  • Each additional offense carries another 30-year term and/or a $250,000 fine.
  • There are different penalties for PWITS marijuana. First-time offenders face up to seven years in prison and/or a $25,000 fine. Each subsequent offense carries up to 15 years in prison and/or a $100,000 fine.
  • There are no mandatory minimum jail sentences, only maximums.

An experienced defense attorney can help fight these charges and achieve the lowest sentence possible. For example, it may help your case if you are participating in a drug rehabilitation program.

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CT defense attorneyA Connecticut drug possession, sale, or distribution conviction may have ramifications beyond jail, fines, mandatory rehab and counseling, and community service. There is also reputational damage, the social stigma of your name being associated with drug use, and if you have children, potential loss of child custody. Each one of the detriments is only magnified if you face a second, third, or subsequent drug conviction.

With regard to child custody, state family court judges are vested with substantial discretion to issue child custody orders so long as they are “in the best interests of the child.” If you have a criminal history, it will likely factor into matters of custody if the judge feels that the child has been or will be put at risk of violence, abuse, neglect, or endangerment. With the fundamental right to direct the upbringing and education of your child at stake, it is imperative that you retain experienced criminal defense counsel if you have been charged with a drug crime in Connecticut.

Opiate-Related Drug Charges Are On the Rise

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Connecticut drug crimesConnecticut, along with the rest of the United States, is in the midst of an opioid crisis. Opioids, the group of drugs that includes heroin and prescription painkillers such as fentanyl, oxycontin, and oxycodone, have killed tens of thousands of Americans – more people, in fact, than died in the Vietnam War.

Since 2010, Connecticut has seen an increase in accidental death involving drugs, including opioids. Faced with such a scourge, state and federal law enforcement are tasked with fighting the possession, use, and distribution of these dangerous and all too often deadly drugs. If you have been charged with an opioid-related drug offense, you will face serious consequences if convicted. For your legal rights and your future, it is imperative that you task an experienced Fairfield County criminal defense attorney with your legal defense.

Opioid Possession is Punishable by Jail Time and Fines in Connecticut

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CT defense attorneyIn May, the Connecticut Legislature made some minor changes to the laws criminalizing the manufacture and sale of controlled substances. These changes will officially go into effect on October 1, 2017. Despite the clarifications made by Connecticut lawmakers, navigating the state’s drug-related statutes can be difficult, so if you have been charged with the manufacture, transport, or sale of a controlled substance, it is important to speak with an experienced Norwalk drug charges lawyer who can help you formulate a defense.

Narcotics and Hallucinogenic Substances

Under Connecticut law, it is unlawful to manufacture, sell, distribute, transport, possess (with the intent to sell), or administer controlled substances that qualify as:

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Posted on in Drug Charges

drug crimes, school zone, Connecticut drug crimes defense lawyerLike any drug charge, at either the federal or state level, facing a drug charge in Connecticut can be devastating and have long-term effects that extend into multiple areas of a person’s life for years to come. Until very recently, however, the state had some of the most draconian drug laws in the country, eased only last year. The recently relaxed laws pertain to small possession charges of marijuana, and equalize punishment and criminal severity of cocaine and crack cocaine—for decades, crack cocaine was a much more severe charge resulting in higher fines and longer jail time. The bill included the stipulation that all felony drug possession charges would be reduced to Class A misdemeanors. It also expanded parole laws, allowing for a prisoner to be considered for release on parole after an evaluation but before having a proper hearing, providing that he or she was not convicted of a violent crime and is not familiar with the victim of the crime (ie: a person convicted of domestic violence or spousal battery would not be eligible for early release without a proper hearing).

Drug-Free School Zones

Another bombshell provision in the drug laws provided by this bill—“An Act Concerning a Second Chance Society”—reduced the scope of the crime regarding drug possession within 1,500 feet of a school or day care center to the possession of drugs on the grounds, instead. The law also reduced the penalty of possession near a school or day care to a Class E felony. Drug-free zone laws were first introduced in 1970, a full decade-plus before President Reagan officially used the term “War on Drugs,” though this law is certainly considered a major cornerstone of those concerted efforts. The idea was to protect children, or to shield them, from increased drug activity in these so-called drug-free zones, and included not only schools but also public parks. Anyone caught dealing or using drugs in such a zone faced significantly more severe punishments, both monetarily and regarding prison time.

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Connecticut drug laws, Connecticut defense lawyer, Connecticut criminal attorney, In Connecticut, if police catch you in possession of an illegal substance, chances are you will face drug charges. These can come with steep fines and even time behind bars. However, many people are not aware that if police arrest you for possessing drug paraphernalia, such as a pipe, you may also face severe penalties.

According to Connecticut law, it is illegal for anyone to be in possession of drug paraphernalia with the intention of using it for any of several listed drug-related purposes, which can range from growing or preparing to ingesting or inhaling controlled substances.

Several items are classified as “paraphernalia,” such as:

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marijuana, decriminalization, Connecticut Criminal Defense LawyerAttitudes across the country are changing when it comes to marijuana and the punishment for marijuana possession, and Connecticut is no exception. According to Connecticut law, the state currently carries fines and criminal penalties for certain levels of possession. Possession of less than one-half ounce of marijuana carries a $150 fine for the first offense. Penalties become increasingly harsh with frequency of offense: a second offense can carry up to a $500 penalty. Third-time offenders will have to attend drug education classes, which will be paid for by their own means. The more substance, the higher the penalty as well: if a person has more than a half-ounce but less than 4 ounces of cannabis he or she can face up to a $1,000 fine and up to a year in prison, or both. These penalties were enacted in 2011, making possession of small amounts of marijuana a civil violation instead of a criminal offense, as it had been in previous years.

Even still, in light of legalization in Washington and Colorado and decriminalization of marijuana in many other states, these punishments can seem unduly tough. This is perhaps one reason attitudes in Connecticut are changing toward the necessity of strict penalties for marijuana possession and recreational use.

In recent months, the Connecticut state legislature seems ready to discuss further decriminalization and even possible legalization. Representative Edwin Vargas and Representative Juan Candelaria have both introduced house bills that would replace prohibition of marijuana with restrictive legalization for adult use. According to the Marijuana Policy Project, a recent study out of Quinnipiac University found that the majority of Connecticut voters support legalization of marijuana for adults: 52 percent of all voters supported such a measure, as did 80 percent of voters under the age of 30.

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Posted on in Criminal Defense

heroin in the Stamford suburbs, Stamford criminal lawyerMany people think that drug crime is a problem only in big cities. However, lately the use of heroin and other drugs has been skyrocketing in the suburbs, including affluent communities. Increased drug use brings with it an increase in the number of arrests, hospital visits, and property crimes.

According to a recent article in the Connecticut Post, there has been a threefold increase in opiate addiction cases over the last decade at the Addiction Recovery Center at Greenwich Hospital. In addition, heroin deaths have been recorded by Greenwich Police every year since 2011.

Heroin-related arrests have increased as well. Greenwich Police made twelve heroin seizures in 2013, but the actual number is higher because the presence of heroin was not recorded in several other cases. Drug-related property crimes, including burglaries, items stolen from cars, and even street robberies, have been on the rise. Every year the Greenwich Police see from 80 to 100 residential burglary cases and 20 to 30 business burglary cases. It’s estimated that the vast majority of those cases—up to 95 percent of them—are related to drugs.

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narcan uses in Connecticut, Stamford drug crimes attorneyIt has become abundantly clear that the abuse of opioids has become an epidemic in Connecticut as well as the nation. While possession of opioids and other controlled substances carries criminal penalties, the use of opioids also subjects the user to the risk of overdose and even death.

Opioids include illegal drugs such as heroin as well as a number of prescription medications such as codeine, oxycodone (prescribed as Oxycontin, Percodan, or Percocet) and hydrocodone (prescribed as Vocodin, Lortab, or Norco). An overdose of an illicit drug such as heroin occurs when a person deliberately misuses the drug. An overdose of a prescription medication occurs when a person takes a medication prescribed for someone else. Overdoses of both types occur when a person combines an opioid with alcohol or other medications that depress the user’s heart and breathing rates.

Naloxone—known as Narcan—reverses the effects of opioids and has proven to be a useful tool in reducing opioid overdose deaths. In 2012, a Connecticut law paved the way for prescribers to give Narcan prescriptions to anyone in close contact with an opioid addict. A new law has been enacted this year making Narcan more available for use helping those who overdose on opioids.

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drug conviction federal student aidIf you are a college student and have applied and received federal grants and loans through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) program, being convicted of a drug-related felony or misdemeanor will leave you ineligible to receive future financial assistance for a certain period of time from the date of your conviction.

How long that ineligibility will last depends on the number of convictions you have and the type of offense you are convicted of. A first offense for possession of drugs will leave you ineligible for one year. If it is your have been convicted for selling illegal drugs and it is your first offense, you will not be able to apply for federal aid for two year.

A second possession conviction will leave you without FAFSA assistance for two years. If you have received two or more convictions of selling drugs, or if this is your third or more conviction for possession, the law says you will not be eligible for federal student aid unless your conviction is overturned or legally ruled to be invalid.

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marijuana possession, smoking a joint, Stamford criminal lawyer, Connecticut drug possession lawWhether you already have a criminal record or whether a marijuana drug possession charge is your first offense, you should take your case seriously and hire a criminal attorney. In Connecticut, there are several different types of charges you might be facing if you are caught with marijuana. The only individuals approved for marijuana use in Connecticut are those who carry a medical marijuana certificate.

If you are arrested with less than 4 ounces of marijuana, you could be facing a fine of $1,000 and you could even be sentenced to up to a year in jail. Any case involving higher quantities of marijuana can have more severe consequences.

Even young adults can face penalties if caught with marijuana: for possession of less than 5 ounces or possession of drug paraphernalia related to less than 5 ounces of marijuana, a juvenile 16 years old or younger will have their license suspended for at least 60 days, or in the case they don't yet have a license, receiving it can be delayed up to 150 days. Youth aged 17-21 will face fines and driver’s license suspension as well. Juveniles may also need to attend drug counseling and complete a certain number of community service hours.

Some people are under the impression that a marijuana drug charge isn’t a big deal beyond the fine or handful of days in jail. Being convicted, however, can be problematic in the future if you apply for a job. Certain employers have a zero tolerance policy for hiring someone with drug charges in their past, and a simple review of your background check will reveal the truth. In addition, your insurance premiums for your car and homeowner’s policy can increase once the insurance company is aware of your conviction. There are far-reaching consequences to being charged with marijuana possession, and even one charge could have implications well into your future. If you have been charged with marijuana or paraphernalia possession, you should contact an experienced Connecticut drug possession attorney to manage your case. You need someone fighting for you and your future.