EVERYONE DESERVES A SECOND CHANCE
SALT LAKE CITY CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEYS
EVERYONE DESERVES A SECOND CHANCE
SALT LAKE CITY CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEYS
DRUG POSSESSION IN UTAH
Illegal drug possession is one of the most common charges in Utah criminal courts. State law gives strict penalties for convictions. Because of the high number of cases and the serious consequences involved, prosecutors work hard to push through drug cases as fast as possible.
If you have been charged with drug possession, this will sometimes work in your favor, and will sometimes work against you. It can work in your favor because you and your drug possession attorney can take the time to really get to know the case and come in to court prepared, in a position of strength. It can work against you because even if you are innocent, the prosecutor and the judge will often see you as “just another user” and you will get pushed through the system along with everybody else.
Drug Possession Defense Law
Utah law states that it is illegal for a person to “knowingly and intentionally” possess any “controlled substance” unless it is through a lawful medical prescription.
The law defines many different types of controlled substances and categorizes them into different categories according to how dangerous a drug is perceived to be, how addictive the substance is, and if the drug has any proven medical use. The categories range from Roman numerals I to V, with I being the most severe. Schedule I includes drugs like Ecstacy (MDMA), and heroin. The next category is schedule II, which includes drugs like cocaine, meth, (methamphetamine), and many prescription drugs. Schedule III includes steroids and schedule IV includes codeine and opium. (Strangely, marijuana is classified as a schedule I drug, but it is treated differently than other schedule I drugs by Utah criminal law.)
Utah law also says that drug possession can also include what is called “constructive possession,” which usually happens when a person has an illegal substance in a car or home, and other people in the car or home know about it and do not specifically disclaim it. In these cases, a person can be found guilty even though he/she never bought, used, or actually possessed the drug.
Drug Possession Penalties
There are two types of penalties that come with drug possession convictions—criminal penalties and “collateral consequences.” Criminal penalties are the penalties given by the judge as punishment for the crime. Collateral consequences are consequences that result from the conviction going onto your criminal record.
Criminal penalties can include:
- Jail or prison time
- Community service
- Drug testing
- Drug treatment
- Losing your job or not getting a job or promotion because of a background check showing a criminal conviction on your record
- Driver’s license suspension or revocation
- Loss of student financial aid
- Loss of reputation or community responsibilities
- Loss of hunting license and right to own a gun
- Loss of ability to volunteer at certain non-profit agencies
Regular drug testing and treatment are almost always required for drug possession convictions. The judge will decide to impose jail time, fines, or community service depending on many things, including:
- Whether it is a misdemeanor or a felony
- Whether the person has other charges on his/her criminal history
- Whether some of the current charges have been dropped or reduced
- Whether the person has a remorseful or defiant attitude
- Other factors that make the charges more or less serious (aggravating & mitigating factors)
Typically, the judge will not impose the full criminal penalty unless you have an extensive criminal history or the crime was very serious. Also, if you are represented by an attorney, they may be able to reduce the charges even before you are sentenced by the judge. They may also be able to convince the judge to reduce the penalties because of the circumstances of your particular case.
Criminal Defense Strategies
To be successful, you will need to develop the best approach to negotiate with the prosecutor and persuade the judge to treat your case differently. If the prosecutor will not negotiate, then you will need to skillfully fight the case to show the case against you is weak.
When you have been charged with drug possession, it is important to research the specific language of the law and find out all of the evidence the government has against you in order to know if the case against you is strong or weak. If the criminal case against you is strong, it may be best for you to negotiate. If the case against you is weak, you may want to fight the charges, or at least fight the charges long enough to get a deal that is as good as possible.
Criminal Defense Lawyer Justin Pratt
Justin Pratt of Intermountain Legal is our lead drug possession defense attorney. Justin has handled hundreds of drug possession cases with broad success. He has a reputation for being hardworking and honest and he is dedicated to helping people facing stiff criminal penalties.
Justin will analyze your case from all sides to determine the best defense strategy in your drug possession case. If your best strategy is to negotiate to reduce the charges or arrange for the conviction to stay off of your record, his knowledge and reputation will help you get the best deal. If it is better for you to fight the case, Justin has extensive trial experience, and will represent you passionately and skillfully.
Contact Our Skilled Salt Lake City Legal Team Today
Learn More About Drug Possession
- Utah Controlled Substance Act - Prohibited acts -- Penalties
- Utah Controlled Substance Act - Schedules 1 through 5
For additional information on Drug Possession, see the following sections:
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STEVEN K. BURTON
As a former prosecutor Steven gained an intimate knowledge of various Domestic Violence Courts, DUI courts and other criminal court programs and procedures. He has spent over 3,500 hours in court and has argued more cases than most attorneys do in a lifetime. For more on Steve's experience, click here.
Attorney Justin S. Pratt handles all types of criminal cases, with an emphasis on DUI-related charges. He believes that someone who is charged with a crime deserves the specialized attention of an attorney who will protect his client's rights by taking the time to examine constitutional issues, important factual circumstances, and any other crucial factors that may be relevant to the case. For more on Justin's experience, click here.
Staci has represented clients in nearly every type of criminal case, from misdemeanors to first-degree felonies. She has an excellent reputation with her clients and they have repeatedly recommended her to their friends and family. She also practices criminal appeals and family law. For more on Staci's experience, click here.
Mark is skilled at dealing with all aspects of family law, including helping clients obtain modifications, enforce court orders, and achieve fair custody and support awards. Going through a painful divorce or a custody battle can be one of the most difficult times in someone’s life, and Mark is there to help every step of the way. For more on Mark's experience, click here.
Matthew's reputation as an attorney is one who thoroughly understands the law and diligently advocates to advance his client's interests. His practice primarily focuses on representing clients in family law matters. He has assisted hundreds of clients in divorce, custody, guardianship, and termination of parental rights cases. For more on Matthew's experience click here.
Elly is a skilled attorney who specializes in divorce and criminal law. Spending the majority of her career in the courtroom, Elly understands how to effectively advocate for her clients who find themselves in the toughest of situations. Elly has successfully guided clients through trials and difficult hearings in front of judges and commissioners, and has expertly negotiated cases through hundreds of hours of mediation. For more on Elly's experience click here.