Q: Is simple Possession of Illegal Narcotics (Drugs, CDS) now a misdemeanor?
A: As of July 1, 2017, YES. Possession of small amounts of drugs, including methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, and marijuana are now considered misdemeanors.
Q: How much does “small amount” mean?
A: Any amount that is not an automatic trafficking amount or is packaged or carried in a way that would indicate intent to distribute.
Q: Wait, what?
A: If you possess more than a certain amount of drugs, you can be charged with trafficking. For example, more than 25 pounds of Marijuana, 28 grams of cocaine, 10 grams of heroin, or 20 grams of methamphetamine will typically be charged as trafficking, which is a serious felony.
Q: Whew! I only have 24 pounds of Marijuana, separately packaged, scales and lots of cash on me, only a misdemeanor, right?
A: NO! Possession with Intent to Distribute is also still a serious felony. Possession of smaller amounts of narcotics may still be considered Possession with Intent if there is evidence the narcotics are not just for personal use. Common evidence used to increase the charge to possession with intent are separate packaging, scales, empty baggies, large amounts of cash and admissions of selling or giving away drugs to others. I anticipate an increase in these kinds of charges as cops and prosecutors will be looking to ways increase charges to send people to prison.
Q: It’s only a misdemeanor, I won’t be doing any jail time, right?
A: No one knows yet and it will vary greatly by county. Some areas are very upset by the change, and I anticipate that in some places that even first time offenses for the more serious drugs like methamphetamine may have mandatory jail time. Some areas will be more lenient. In time, we will have a much better idea what to expect. What I can tell you is that an experienced, LOCAL, Criminal Defense Lawyer will be able to give you good advice regarding your particular county. Also, unlike some of the arguments made against making possession a misdemeanor, I do not think it will take many different arrests for possession of methamphetamine before serious jail time will result.
Q: What if it’s my 2nd (3rd, 4th, 10th) time being caught with methamphetamine?
A: Still a misdemeanor, as long as it is only simple possession. However, see the response to the last question regarding potential jail time.
Q: What if I have a prior felony possession of CDS and been to prison?
A: Still a misdemeanor as long as it is only simple possession.
Q: I’ve been arrested for Possession of CDS, what should I do?
A: Contact a local, experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. Better yet, call Faulk Law Firm at (580) 249-9100!