Penalties for DC Drug Conviction 

Drug offenses in DC are vigorously investigated and prosecuted. That might include distribution, possession with the intent to distribute, and so on. The severity of the penalties for DC drug conviction depends on the schedule of the drugs themselves. If you have been charged with a drug offense, work with an accomplished drug defense attorney that could advocate for you.

Attitudes Towards Drug Offenses in DC

When it comes to the prosecution of drug-related offenses, local DC laws became more lenient over the past decade. That includes legal changes to the law such as the legalization of the possession of marijuana for personal use. It also deals with how other drug crimes deemed to be non-violent drug offenses are treated by DC prosecutors and judges. For example, marijuana used to be criminalized in DC, and even personal possession was criminalized. In recent years, voter initiatives resulted in marijuana being decriminalized.

Previously, a person could be arrested for possession of a small amount of marijuana and eventually it was legalized, making possession of two ounces or less of marijuana by a person over 21 years of age completely legal. Public consumption of marijuana and the distribution or possession marijuana with the intention to distribute it for monetary gain are still illegal in DC. There are other caveats to DC marijuana laws, but as a general matter, marijuana is now prosecuted to a lesser extent than it used to be. Other drugs still continue to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Drug Possession Penalties

The penalties for DC drug conviction depend on the type of drug-related charge, that a person faces. Charges could include possession of small amounts of drugs such as cocaine with no allegation that the amount is indicative of being used to sell or distribute cocaine. In those situations, a person faces misdemeanor drug possession charges regardless of the type of drug.

Whether the drug possession is crack, heroin, or methamphetamine, the person faces a misdemeanor charge of up to 180 days in jail for a small amount. There is a good chance that a person might not do any jail time for a small drug possession case. The only exception is the possession of liquid phencyclidine (PCP).

Possession of PCP

Liquid PCP possession is the only possession charge where a person faces a maximum of three years in prison making it a felony offense. The logic is that liquid PCP is extremely dangerous and there is a presumption that the person in possession of PCP is probably sharing it.

Even if a person is not specifically charged with sale, distribution, or possession with intent to distribute liquid PCP, the simple possession is treated more harshly under DC law. A person can get up to three years in prison for the possession of liquid PCP.

Penalties for Drug Distribution

The more serious drug-related cases involving drug distribution or possession with intent to distribute are routinely charged as felony offenses. As a result, the penalties for DC drug conviction are also at the felony level. The maximum penalty a person could face is up to 30 years in prison. The exception to this is the possession with intent to distribute or distribution of less than half of a pound of marijuana. When a person is in possession of more than half of a pound of marijuana and there is evidence of intent to distribute, the person could face felony-level charges with a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison.

Maximum Penalties for Drug Offenses

The maximum penalties for DC drug conviction a person could face are not necessarily a good indicator of the penalty they are likely to face. People rarely receive the maximum possible penalties, even from multiple repeat offenses and especially in drug-related offenses. The odds of receiving a maximum penalty are not that high.

Mitigating Circumstances for Drug Penalties

Under DC laws, DC judges follow voluntary sentencing guidelines for felony cases that create ranges of possible penalties a person might face depending on the seriousness of their offense and their criminal history. The judge determines the range of possible penalties that are consistent with other people in similar circumstances. It is up to defense attorney to argue on the defendant’s behalf for leniency and the lowest penalty possible. To give the judge a better understanding of the individual’s personal circumstances, the defense attorney informs the judge about the person’s personal situation, their life circumstances, and any addiction they have where they could benefit from drug treatment. Individuals who want to know more about penalties for DC drug conviction should speak with a capable attorney that could attempt to mitigate the penalties that they may face.