Ever since the War on Drugs began in the 1980s, drug crimes have been some of the most commonly prosecuted offenses across the country. Even low level drug crimes like simple possession can come with severe penalties, and they can become even more serious for drug crimes like distribution of a controlled substance. Understanding both of these crimes and their penalties is important for people charged with a drug crime in Connecticut.
To fully understand these crimes, it is important to understand the distinction between an illegal drug and a controlled substance. Illegal drugs are drugs such as cocaine and heroin, which are illegal to possess under any circumstances. A controlled substance includes illegal drugs, but it also includes prescription medications like Oxycontin and Vicodin. Prescription medications are legal to possess if prescribed by a doctor’s and dispensed by a pharmacist, but the unauthorized possession, giving to someone else, or sale of them is illegal.
Possession of a Controlled Substance
The simplest drug crime is possession of a controlled substance. This is merely the offense of someone’s having illegal drugs on their person or under their control, and is punishable under both Connecticut law and federal law.
In Connecticut, the penalties for the crime depend upon the type of drug that the person possessed. Possession of narcotics, such as cocaine or heroin, is punishable by up to seven years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000 for a first offense. Subsequent offenses can be punished even more severely, with penalties as high as 25 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Possession of hallucinogens is punished less severely, with the possibility of a five year sentence and a fine of $5,000. Connecticut law also includes a sentence enhancement, which increases the penalty by two years for people whose possession happens within 1,500 of a school or daycare center.
Federal penalties for simple possession are generally less severe and less complex. The first offense is punishable by up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000. Subsequent offenses can raise those penalties to up to three years in prison, with a mandatory minimum of 90 days and a mandatory minimum fine of $5,000. However, there are some exceptions to this scheme. For instance, a first offense for possession of flunitrazepam, a date rape drug, is punishable by up to three years in prison.
Distribution of a Controlled Substance
The law also punishes people for distribution of a controlled substance. Importantly, the law views possessing a controlled substance with intent to distribute it as equivalent to actually distributing a controlled substance. The penalties for sale of a controlled substance once again depend on whether the charge is Connecticut or federal. Connecticut law for the sale of narcotics or hallucinogens other than marijuana punishes people with a sentence of up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000, with increased penalties for subsequent offenses. Connecticut law also increases penalties for people who sell certain drugs, like heroin or cocaine, who are not themselves addicted to drugs.
The penalties for distribution under federal law depend on the type and amount of drug in question. Sale of more than 100 grams of heroin is punishable by five to 40 years in prison. Punishment for selling over a kilogram of heroin increases to 10 years to life. Additionally, federal law includes sentencing enhancements, such as an increase to the sentence if the sale of drugs causes someone’s death or serious injury
Drug crimes can have a lasting impact on your life and lead to serious penalties. If you are facing criminal charges, learn more about your rights by contacting a Hartford, Connecticut criminal defense attorney at Woolf Law Firm, LLC. Call [[phone1]] to schedule an initial consultation.