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hartford defense lawyerThe “war on drugs” has led law enforcement officials to crack down on anyone who is suspected of illegally possessing, selling, distributing, or manufacturing controlled substances. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that there has been an increase in the number of drug overdoses related to fentanyl. Because of this, authorities may be looking to pursue drug charges against those who are accused of possessing this substance. Anyone who has been arrested for drug possession or distribution will need to secure representation from a criminal defense lawyer.

Increased Concerns About Fentanyl and Cocaine

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that has become more available in recent years, since it is fairly easy and inexpensive to manufacture. It is highly addictive, and it is often more potent than other opioid drugs. Recently, officials have raised concerns about an increased number of overdoses involving the combination of fentanyl and cocaine. These overdoses may have occurred because the drugs were unintentionally mixed together or because drug users attempted to use multiple substances at the same time. Those who have not built up a tolerance for fentanyl are more likely to experience dangerous or fatal overdoses.

Fentanyl-Related Drug Charges in Connecticut

Under Connecticut law, illegal possession of a controlled substance may be charged as a Class A misdemeanor, and a conviction can result in a prison sentence of up to one year, as well as a maximum fine of $2,000. However, law enforcement officials may pursue charges for possession of controlled substances with the intent to sell, distribute, give, or administer these substances to someone else. The specific charges will usually be based on the amount of drugs that are found in a person’s possession, and even seemingly small amounts of fentanyl or other drugs could lead to charges of illegally manufacturing, distributing, or selling controlled substances.

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Hartford criminal defense lawyerMarijuana use has become more and more accepted over the past decade, and multiple states have chosen to legalize this substance. The state of Connecticut will soon be joining these ranks after Governor Ned Lamont signed a bill that will make marijuana legal for recreational use. Some of the bill’s provisions will go into effect as soon as July 1, 2021. In addition to affecting criminal cases involving drug charges, this new law may also play a role in cases involving juvenile crimes, probation violations, and clearing of criminal records.

Details of Connecticut’s New Marijuana Law

Starting on July 1, 2021, people over the age of 21 will be allowed to possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis plant materials on their person or an equivalent amount of products containing marijuana. A person may also possess up to five ounces of marijuana in a locked container in their residence or that is locked inside the trunk or glove compartment of a vehicle. The law has also eliminated the criminal penalties for manufacturing, selling, or using drug paraphernalia related to marijuana, and it reduced the penalties for illegally manufacturing or selling marijuana. 

The law made a number of other changes that will affect criminal cases, including:

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Hartford federal drug charges defense attorneyFor years now, many lawmakers have agreed that the United States criminal justice system has needed major reforms. Many bills intended to address this issue have been introduced in the past few years, but most have fallen on deaf ears in Congress and have not made their way to the President’s desk. This all changed in December 2018 when President Trump signed the FIRST STEP Act into law. The FIRST STEP Act is one of the first major changes to sentencing for federal drug crimes and is intended to help reduce the prison population. It will also help those who are newly convicted with drug crimes.

Reforms Made By the FIRST STEP Act

The FIRST STEP Act pushes the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to assess the risks and needs for every offender when they are sentenced. Then, the BOP will attempt to reduce the rate of reoffending through individualized and evidence-based plans, which will be offered to all inmates. Programs that could be a part of these plans may include substance abuse treatment, mental health care, anger-management courses, job training, educational support, and even faith-based initiatives.

Another reform made by the Act is intended to help inmates transition back into their communities. The Act allows inmates to serve a portion of the end of their imprisonment in a halfway house or in-home confinement. This allows inmates to successfully transition back into normal life and lowers their chances of reoffending. The BOP will perform the risks and needs assessment more frequently during this time to make sure the services the inmate needs are there.

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Hartford federal drug charges defense lawyerBeing charged with a drug crime is a serious matter. Those who commit these offenses are not only breaking state laws, but they are likely violating federal laws as well. This means an offender can be prosecuted at the federal level with sentencing that is more strict than state sentencing.

A person can be charged with both state and federal drug charges for the same crime, which may seem unfair at first, but ultimately makes sense. When multiple jurisdictions are involved in a crime, double jeopardy does not apply. The idea of “dual sovereignty” gives both states and the federal government the ability to prosecute an offender for the same crime. However, there are a few differences between federal and state drug charges, and it is important to understand them.

When Does a Drug Crime Become a Federal Offense?

Not all drug crimes will be of interest to federal prosecutors. Only certain types of drug charges will usually be prosecuted at the federal level. State drug crimes often consist of misdemeanor charges related to possession for a first offense or possession with intent to distribute, which is a felony, when the alleged criminal activity is confined within the state of Connecticut.

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possession of drugs in Connecticut, Hartford drug defense lawyerEver 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

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