Factors Influencing DC Cocaine Penalties

Washington, DC takes cocaine offenses seriously. However, how the offense is charged and whether someone has a criminal history are some of several factors influencing DC cocaine penalties.

If you are facing any charges, it is crucial to take steps to protect your rights and your freedom. A dedicated drug lawyer can help you build a compelling defense to any cocaine charges you are facing to give your case the best chance of a positive outcome.

Is It a Misdemeanor or Felony Cocaine Charge?

The harshness of the penalties someone could face for cocaine charges depends on several factors. The single most important is whether the person is charged with simple possession of cocaine, possession with intent to distribute, or distribution of cocaine. Both possession with intent to distribute and distribution are felony charges that carry a maximum possible penalty of up to 30 years in prison whereas possession of cocaine for personal use is a misdemeanor charge and could face up to 180 days of jail.

Misdemeanor Charges

As stated above, in general, people facing misdemeanor charges are eligible for more lenient sentences compared to felony charges. If an individual is found guilty of simple possession of cocaine, the legal maximum they can receive is 180 days of jail. Whether someone will be charged with possession of cocaine as a misdemeanor rather than possession with intent to distribute cocaine or distribution of cocaine depends on the circumstances of the case.

Felony Offenses

A number of factors could result in an individual being charged with possession with intent to distribute. The most common factors include the amount of cocaine someone was allegedly in possession of and whether prosecutors believe the amount is more consistent with the intent to distribute than personal use.

There is not a distinct line dividing amounts that are consistent with personal use and amounts consistent with distribution. Prosecutors often take other circumstantial factors into consideration such as:

  • Cocaine packaged into multiple smaller quantities
  • Possession of large amounts of cash in small denominations
  • Paraphernalia that suggest distribution such as quantities of empty baggies that could be used to distribute cocaine

Someone facing possession with intent to distribute is eligible for more severe penalties than someone charged with simple possession.

Whether Someone in DC Has a Criminal History

Another important factor that may influence the severity of someone’s punishment is their criminal history. When an individual faces misdemeanor charges or felony charges, judges and prosecutors always take their criminal record into account when determining a sentence.

A person with no criminal history could be eligible for a more lenient sentence including a reduction of charges or a complete dismissal of their charges. Someone with a lengthier criminal history is more likely to face harsher penalties such as longer jail sentences, stricter probation conditions, and the possibility of spending years in prison. An attorney can further explain how a criminal history can come into play when determining DC cocaine penalties.

An Attorney Can Explain the Factors Influencing DC Cocaine Penalties

The specific charges are the most significant factors influencing DC cocaine penalties. However, there are other circumstances that will also weigh into a sentence. If you are facing charges, it is essential that you take time to understand the penalties you could be facing. Reach out to an aggressive attorney who can help you understand the penalties you could face and can help you find a strategy to give you the best chance of a positive outcome. Call today for a free consultation.