Felony Drug Possession Cases
Being charged with felony drug possession is a stressful and serious matter that can have a lasting impact on a person’s life. While it may seem hopeless for those facing these charges, there are ways in which these charges can be avoided or reduced in severity. The letter of the law is quite clear as to what constitutes felony drug possession, however in practice most prosecutors have wiggle room surrounding these charges.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the offense and how the case is presented, sometimes prosecutors will give defendants a second chance and opportunity to put their life back on track. Drug cases are often viewed within different categories based on these circumstances. For example, defendants who are drug addicts who were possessing the drugs for personal use will be categorized differently from those who were possessing the drugs with the intent to distribute.
There are many programs within the prosecutor’s office and the local courts to get this person the help they need to get off the drug and back to a normal and productive life. There is also a door open to work toward resolution to avoid jail and potentially a criminal record. Most prosecutors and judges are willing to give this type of a person a second chance in life if they are willing to earn the result. There are programs that depend on your age, but there is also a program that doesn’t have any age requirement to receive the possibility of a dismissal upon successful completion of probation.
All of that being said, it’s a completely different ballgame if there are indications that the person possessing drugs may be selling them to the public. This opens up the door for additional charges, as there is less tolerance and patience for someone who is contributing to the drug epidemic. These types of offenses are typically not eligible for first offender type programs, and jail is more likely for a case of this nature.
Best Outcome Strategies
Generally speaking, the majority of felony drug possession charges are possession without the intent to distribute, meaning the drugs were for personal use. Sometimes this can be a grey area, such as when the defendant is a teenager or young adult who may be possessing the drugs to both consume and share with friends. Although this trickles a bit into that more serious category, there is usually some understanding and tolerance when the defendant is on the younger end of the spectrum. Many prosecutors use the case to teach a valuable life lesson to the defendant, rather than branding them a felon for the rest of their life for a poor choice as a young adult. However there is some work required on the part of the defendant in order for this to happen.
For example, let’s take a look at a scenario involving a college student. The student is doing well in school, has no prior criminal history, but they are arrested by the police for possessing heroin, cocaine or another felony level substance. This puts them in a serious legal predicament, as there is no legal reason to possess this type of drug and it serves no medical purpose like there is for medical marijuana in Michigan. Assuming proper police procedures were followed and the substance is confirmed by a lab as a felony controlled substance, there isn’t much wiggle room for the student.
In an alternate version of this scenario, the substance is a prescription drug like Alprazolam, Xanax, opiates or another commonly prescribed controlled substance, and the student lacks a valid prescription. In this case, they don’t have a defense for possessing the drug. However, if the client had a prior prescription that can be shown to the prosecution, it may provide a better context into the current possession.
Important Perception Factors
In either of these above scenarios, the best defense against a life altering felony charge for drug possession is to change the perception of the case. There are several things that can be done to accomplish this, the first of which is the defendant stopping the use of the drug in question. Immediately after this, they should begin proactive and continuing drug testing leading up to their court case. This is important to show the judge and prosecution that the defendant is not only currently sober but have been for some time.
Sometimes this time period between an arrest for felony drug possession and formal charges being filed can be quite long due to lab work required to confirm whether or not the drug in question is a felony controlled substance. Depending on workload and other factors, this means lab work can result in these charges being delayed weeks or months. Being able to use this time to show the prosecution that the defendant has been sober for this time period can go a long way in changing the perception of the case in the defendant’s favor, painting them in a more favorable light instead of simply being seen as a drug user.
In addition to this, it is important to determine why the defendant was in possession of the controlled substance in the first place, and how to prevent that from occurring again. There are a range of possible reasons for possessing illegal drugs, ranging from true drug addiction requiring intensive treatment to recreational use with friends or as a result of peer pressure. For the latter, there is the possibility of improving the case’s perception through making positive life adjustments. This includes documenting a clear pattern of improved decision making that makes it clear that the defendant is making their best efforts to turn their life around and become a productive member of society.
Working with an experienced criminal defense attorney to prove both long term sobriety and improved life adjustments can go a long way to improving the perception for the defendant to the prosecutor and judge. This potentially opens doors for the defendant that would otherwise be closed, such as alternative resolutions that involve less harsh penalties and sentencing and instead address the root causes of the drug problem. As the saying goes, perception is reality and that most certainly holds true in the cases involving felony drug possession charges.