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CT defense lawyerWith the increased nationwide push toward legality for small amounts of marijuana, it can be very easy to assume that possession of marijuana will not lead to any potential criminal consequences. This is, however, not the case - aside from small exceptions, possession of marijuana will wind up leading to fines, possible jail time, and potential social consequences for the future, especially if you are a juvenile. If you have been charged with possession of marijuana, you need to quickly enlist an attorney who has experience with these cases.

Fines and Potential Prison Time

As with most other drug charges, possession of marijuana can be a misdemeanor or a felony charge in Connecticut, depending on how much you are caught with. Generally, possessing amounts between one and four ounces will be charged as a misdemeanor, while amounts four ounces and over will be charged as felonies, carrying the appropriate jail time. A misdemeanor first offense is less likely to result in jail time, especially for younger adults, but you may receive up to one year in jail, plus a $1,000 fine, depending on your specific situation.

Keep in mind that in Connecticut, if you are caught with less than one-half an ounce of marijuana, it is no longer considered a criminal offense; rather it is an infraction, punishable by fines. It does not create a criminal record, in most situations, but it will show up on some background checks in the future, which can cause problems that are much further reaching than any fine. In particular, certain jobs are off-limits to anyone with a history of drug use, as well as some housing opportunities.

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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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CT criminal lawyerIn recent years, there has been a push to legalize small amounts of marijuana in various states around the country. Connecticut is one of the states that has made a change, reducing the penalty for possession of less than ½ ounce of marijuana to a criminal violation, rather than a misdemeanor or felony. However, if you are stopped with more than ½ an ounce, you can still be charged with a drug crime in Connecticut. If this is you, be aware that you do have options, especially if you have a knowledgeable attorney on your side.

Penalties Still in Force

While the penalty for possession of minor amounts and possession of some marijuana-related paraphernalia has been lowered to a violation, the sentencing for conviction on possession of larger amounts or for distribution remains unchanged, and a conviction will stay on your record for many years afterward. A first-time misdemeanor possession charge carries a jail term of at least 1 year, while a felony conviction means at least 5 years in jail.

Distribution penalties are even more severe, even for a first offense. Depending on the amount involved in the charge, you can face anywhere between 5 and 20 years in prison. If you are convicted of distributing 1 kilogram or more, there is a mandatory minimum of 5 years, plus all the attendant fines. In addition, there are modifiers that can add time, such as distributing to someone under 18 or distributing within 1,500 feet of a school.

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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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