DC Drug Possession Penalties

Most drug possession charges are misdemeanor offenses. The only exception is the simple possession of liquid PCP. This specific drug is treated more harshly than other drug possession cases because police and the DC legislature consider liquid PCP to be a more serious drug in terms of the reasons an individual would be in possession of it. The DC legislature determined that it is unlikely for a person to be in possession PCP for their own personal use.

The presumption of DC drug possession penalties for liquid PCP are that the person is in possession of the drug for the purposes of distributing it. Therefore, prosecutors charge the possession of liquid PCP as a felony offense. It carries a maximum three years of prison time as opposed to other possession cases which only carry a maximum 180 days of jail time for a misdemeanor offense. Anyone facing such charges should speak with a distinguished drug lawyer about their options moving forward.

Severity of Drug Consequences

Nearly all drug possession cases carry a maximum penalty of 180 days of jail and a maximum fine of $1,000. That makes DC drug possession penalties misdemeanor offenses because the maximum consequence is not more than one year of jail time. The only exception is the simple possession of liquid PCP, which carries a maximum penalty of three years of prison time and a maximum fine of $12,500.

Impact of a Conviction

Despite most DC drug possession penalties being misdemeanors, it does not take away from the severity of the charges. They are considered criminal offenses that carry the possibility of jail time. In many situations, prosecutors and judges are not eager to seek significant periods of jail time for simple drug possession cases. Judges in DC understand and are trained in drug addiction to find ways to help people get treatments without having them spend unnecessary time in jail.

Nonetheless, it is important for people facing drug possession charges to have a lawyer who can zealously advocate for more lenient sentences and penalties. The lawyer might advocate for the dismissal of their client’s case to minimize the impact the charge has on the person’s life.

Drug possession charges can have an impact on a person’s security clearance when they have a government job. These charges can also have an impact on the status of a person’s driver’s license which can be serious when a person carries a commercial driver’s license that is essential for their ability to work and make a living. There are many situations where facing a drug possession charge can have consequences in a person’s life. It is important to have a dedicated legal representative to minimize the penalties a person is subject to when charged with drug possession.

Alternative Sentencing Options

There are a number of diversion options and alternative sentencing options available in first offense drug possession cases. Diversion is a negotiated resolution reached between a defense attorney and a prosecutor where a person charged with drug possession for the first time complies with certain conditions in exchange for having their charges dismissed. These conditions can include community service and in some situations, a person may be eligible for drug court which consists of the person completing drug treatment and submitting to regular drug testing in exchange for having their charges dropped.

There are also sentencing options available to judges in first offense drug possession charges that permit a judge to sentence a person to probation without an adjudication of guilt. In that situation, when the person successfully completes the probation period and complies with any probation requirement such as drug testing, the person’s case is withdrawn and their entire record is sealed by the judge. For people facing first DC drug possession penalties, having a lawyer who understands the sentencing can advocate for those options on their behalf which can make a significant difference in the outcome of their case.

Diversion Programs

First-time drug possession cases can lead to negotiate agreements with the prosecutors. First-time offender diversion agreement programs, for example, are available to a lot of people for first-time drug possession cases.

DC has a very prominent drug court program for those with a drug addiction problem that can take them through treatments over the course of six months to one year in exchange for getting the charges dismissed.

How an Attorney Can Help

Whether your case has existing aggravating factors or mitigating factors, your DC drug attorney can advise you and strategize on how to argue against the aggravating factors and emphasize the mitigating factors. If aggravating factors are alleged to exist, the prosecution must be held to its burden of proving those aggravating factors.

Your attorney can find weaknesses in the prosecution’s position in an effort to defend against the aggravating factors. Likewise, if there are mitigating factors, your attorney can either emphasize those circumstances to the jury during the trial or to the prosecutor during plea negotiations.