“Drug possession” can encompass a wide a spectrum of possible violations and potential punishments, just as the term “drugs” can refer to an extremely varied list of prohibited natural and synthetic substances. This is also determined by which state you are busted in, because each has its own laws regarding what constitutes drug possession and the potential penalties and sentences that a conviction can bring. But there are a few general principles that apply in most states.
It is also important to note that drug possession can be considered a misdemeanor or felony and there are several different factors which will determine that. Some of these factors include your age, your previous criminal history, whether you were on school grounds, the amount you have on you and any whether you also had paraphernalia.
Another thing you should keep in mind is that just because you are charged with possession, it does not mean that this is the only charge they will give you. You can get multiple charges all relating to the same incident, including intent to distribute, possession of paraphernalia and even DUI. Depending on where you live, if you have drugs on you and have innocent items, such as a bat, you may even be charged with a weapons charge.
So what else is important to know when if you’re facing a drug possession charge?
Drug Possession: Quantity Matters
In every drug possession case, usually one of the most important factors in determining the outcome is the amount of drugs found on your person. Generally, a small amount of drugs will be considered “simple” possession, or possession for personal use, carrying a light fine that’s equivalent to a traffic violation in states that have decriminalized marijuana. On the other hand, a larger amount of drugs may lead to charges of possession with intent to distribute, which typically carries much harsher criminal penalties.
In order to establish an intent to distribute charge, law enforcement may need additional evidence beyond the amount of an illegal substance. To establish an intent to distribute, law enforcement officials will look for things like drug packaging materials, scales or other measuring equipment, large amounts of cash or even messages on a cell phone or computer.
Drug Possession: Pot Possession May Be Less Severe
The type of drug you possess can also determine the severity of the potential penalties. In many states, marijuana possession may still be on par with other illegal drugs, such as methamphetamine, heroin, and ecstasy. And although marijuana is still illegal under federal law, two states—Colorado and Washington—have made the possession of marijuana legal, while several other states and cities have decriminalized marijuana and turned the simple possession of a small amount of marijuana into a civil infraction, usually punishable by a small fine.
Drug Possession: Potential Punishments
So, taking all of that into account—the state you’re in, the drug you’re caught with, the amount of the drug in your possession, the circumstances surrounding your arrest, and the existence of prior drug possession convictions—the potential penalties for drug conviction range from small fine of less than $100 to several years in state prison.
The Midwest is typically not a friendly place for people to possess marijuana, and Nebraska is no exception. Nebraska does have a decriminalization law on the books, but everything above and beyond that is harsh. Below are the current marijuana laws in Nebraska:
- Possession of 1 oz or less (first offense) is a civil citation, punishable by a $300 fine and no jail time. A drug class may be required.
- Possession of 1 oz or less (second offense) is a misdemeanor, punishable by 5 days in jail and a $400 fine.
- Possession of 1 oz or less (subsequent offense) is a misdemeanor, punishable by 7 days in jail and a $500 fine.
- Possession of 1 oz to 1 lb is a misdemeanor, punishable by 7 days in jail and a $500 fine.
- Possession of more than 1 lb is a felony, punishable by 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
- Distributing or cultivating any amount is a felony, punishable by a mandatory sentence of 1 year in prison, but up to 20 years, and a $25,000 fine.
- Distributing any amount to a minor is a felony, punishable by a mandatory sentence of 3 years in prison, but up to 20 years, and a $50,000 fine.
- Distributing or cultivating within 1,000 feet of a school or specified area is a felony, punishable by a mandatory sentence of 3 years in prison, but up to 50 years, and a $50,000 fine.
- Possession of paraphernalia is a civil citation, punishable by a fine of $100-500, no jail time.
- Distributing paraphernalia is a misdemeanor, punishable by 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Drug Possession: Other Potential Punishments
Of course, not everyone busted for weed receives jail time. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t suffer significant hardships stemming from their arrest—including, but not limited to: probation and mandatory drug testing, loss of employment, loss of child custody, removal from subsidized housing, asset forfeiture, loss of student aid, loss of voting privileges, and the loss of certain federal welfare benefits such as food stamps.
Drug Possession: Defending a Possession Charge
There are many different ways that a defense attorney can go about fighting your case for you. They can examine your case to see if there is some sort of loophole that you may be able to fit into to have the case dropped. However, only an attorney who is experienced in defending possession charges laws should represent you.
Contact Omaha Drug Attorney Daniel Stockmann
Due to the intricacies of the laws in each area, it is important to have someone who can look at your case and know the best course of action. A marijuana possession conviction is something that will stay with you throughout your life and can affect your ability to get certain student loans and even jobs. This is why you need a skilled lawyer to fight for you, like dedicated attorney Daniel Stockmann at Stockmann Law, who has specialized in drug cases for over 20 years, and has a track record of winning.
To set up a free and completely confidential case evaluation, call our law offices at (844) 545-3022 today. We will always keep your information private and give you the information you need to make the best decision.