If you are convicted of felony possession or distribution of a controlled substance, you could face a lengthy prison sentence and there may be other severe ramifications to being involved in these activities that could affect you for the rest of your life. Being charged with drug possession in itself can be a very intimidating and complex process which could involve multiple court dates in front of a judge who may not be sympathetic to your cause.
After October 1, 2013, a new sentencing scheme was enacted to show minimum sentence, maximum sentence, and mandatory parole for certain drug crimes. Here are some of those crimes explained:
- Level 1: Level 1 carries a minimum sentence of 8 years and/or a $5,000 fine, a maximum sentence of 32 years and/or $1 million fine, and a mandatory period of parole of 3 years.
- Level 2: Level 2 carries a minimum sentence of 4 years and/or a $3,000 fine, a maximum sentence of 8 years and/or a $750,000 fine, and a mandatory period of parole of 2 years.
- Level 3: Level 3 carries a minimum sentence of 2 years and/or a $2,000 fine, a maximum sentence of 4 years and/or a $500,000 fine, and a mandatory period of parole of 1 year.
- Level 4: Level 4 carries a minimum sentence of 6 months and/or a $1,000 fine, a maximum sentence of 1 year and/or a $100,000 fine, and a mandatory period of parole of 1 year. (1)
These are the sentence ranges for what is termed the “presumptive range.” For any of these levels, the court can double the maximum if the judge determines that there are extraordinary aggravating circumstances.
The 1st criteria used to determine the appropriate felony “level” is the type of drug or narcotic which is involved. Different substances are split into different “Schedules” with Schedule I being the most serious and Schedule V being the least serious. Here is a brief outline of these Schedules:
- Schedule I: These drugs usually fall under the category of synthetic opiates and heroin and have an extremely high potential for abuse. These drugs have no accepted medical use and are unsafe for use in treatment, even if somebody is supervising.
- Schedule II: These drugs include opium and have a very high potential for abuse. However, they do have an accepted medical use but can result in severe psychological and physical dependence if abused.
- Schedule III: These drugs usually include anabolic steroids and have a potential for abuse much less than those of Schedule I or II. They also have an accepted medical use and can lead to low or moderate physical dependence as well as high psychological dependence.
- Schedule IV: Schedule IV drugs like lorazepam have a lower potential for abuse than that of Schedule III drugs. They also have an acceptable medical use and may lead to limited psychological and physical dependence in relation to Schedule III drugs.
- Schedule V: These drugs are the least dangerous. They have the lowest potential for abuse, have accepted medical use, and will likely lead to only limited physical or psychological dependence. In this class, you may find medicines that have very small amounts of specified narcotic drugs. (2)
If there is an allegation that a person was in possession of a controlled substance and they were intending on selling or “Distributing” those substances, the felony level can be increased. Some of the things that would indicate that a person was intending to distribute or sell narcotics are called “indicia of distribution.” They include the presence of scales or baggies, the presence of tools which could be used for packaging the drugs, the amount of drugs present and other factors which would indicate that a person was engaged in the business of selling drugs. Some of those things could include “client lists” or contact information for other known dealers or large quantities of cash.
There are a variety of ways to challenge a charge of Possession or Distribution of drugs. It is not uncommon for law enforcement to jump to conclusions when investigating suspected drug dealers and when that occurs, there can be legal challenges that can result in a very favorable outcome. In some cases, a police officer may have used illegal means to gather the evidence against a person. It is not uncommon for officers to ask to search your home or vehicle without probable cause to do so and if you give them permission, they no longer need to have an independent valid reason to search. It is never a good idea to give the police consent to search you or your home or vehicle.
In Colorado, drug crimes are treated very seriously and harsh penalties are always a possibility for those who suffer a conviction for a drug crime. It is a very good idea to speak to an attorney you can trust today to find out what options are best for you.