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Drug charges: Knowing how to defend yourself

If you're arrested for possessing drugs, it's vital that you take the time to talk to someone who can help you defend yourself. A simple charge for possession could quickly turn into multiple charges for possession with intent to distribute, even if that's not what you were doing with the drugs.

Drug charges add up quickly because it's easy for the prosecution and police to add on charges that you later have to fight. It's in your best interest to protect yourself early to avoid additional charges you don't deserve to face.

Possession

The possession of drugs is one of the least serious drug crimes. Hurting yourself without involving anyone else seems less serious to the courts, so you may not face as many penalties. Depending on the amount of drugs in your possession, you could face a misdemeanor or felony charge. For instance, possessing 50 grams of marijuana here in New Jersey leads to a fine of up to $1,000 and as many as six months in jail (along with other penalties). But possessing heroin could lead to a five-year prison sentence and fines of up to $25,000.

Possession with intent

Even if you only possess drugs for yourself, if the amount is over what the police believe is for a single person, they may think you possess with the intent to sell. Cases involving marijuana can lead to up to 20 years in prison, depending on how much marijuana you have in your possession. Fines range between $25,000 and $300,000. Comparatively, intending to sell heroin or other narcotics could lead to fines of up to $600,000 and a fixed prison term determined in court.

Distribution

Distribution charges, or charges for trafficking drugs, are extremely serious. If you're accused of trafficking heroin, you could face a minimum of 25 years in prison before parole is considered, in addition to a fine of up to $500,000. Trafficking marijuana is no different, even though it's legal in some states. To face the most serious of these charges, the prosecution has to prove that you are the leader of a narcotics trafficking network.

As you can see, the penalties for possessing and distributing drugs can be significant. It's important to work with someone who can help you protect yourself. It's not often that someone faces just a single charge when caught with drugs, so you could easily see the prosecution accuse you of two or three of the above even during a simple case of possession.

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