What Is the Penalty for Drug Possession in Kansas City?

Posted: August 1, 2021 at 12:00 am

If you’re facing drug possession charges in Kansas City, your life probably feels like it’s been turned upside down. You likely have questions, are worried about the future, and have no idea who to trust. On top of this, you need to understand the potential penalties and how to fight back. That’s why we’re here – to provide the answers you need and build your case from the ground up.

What Is the Penalty for Drug Possession in Kansas City?

Knowing what you’re up against can be scary, but not knowing is even more frightening. Drug possession penalties are pretty straightforward. Opiates, narcotics, and stimulants – including methamphetamine – are classified as a level four felony and carry a penalty of up to 3.5 years in prison and $100,000 in fines.

Marijuana, depressants, LSD, other stimulants, and anabolic steroids fall under a class A misdemeanor. A first offense carries penalties of up to one year in prison and $2,500 in fines. A second offense is punishable by up to 3.5 years in prison and $100,000 in fines. Paraphernalia, a class A felony, carries penalties for a first offense of up to one year in prison and $2,500 in fines.

Multiple Offenders

Under Kansas law, offenders with multiple drug convictions are subject to enhanced penalties, including up to $100,000 in fines and 3.5 years of imprisonment. Second offenders may be similarly prosecuted with felony charges if they were previously convicted of possessing a specific controlled substance, such as marijuana or MDMA.

Drug Classifications

Classifying drugs by chemical similarities is useful because they tend to have similar, if not the same, risks and impacts. For instance, opioids like heroin and oxycodone act on receptors in the brain and can mimic the effects of neurotransmitters. A person addicted to a drug is more likely to abuse and become addicted to other drugs with similar chemical compositions.

Schedule I drugs have no approved medical uses and are highly addictive. They come with a significant likelihood of abuse and include marijuana, heroin, and hallucinogens like Psilocybin and LSD. Schedule II drugs are also considered highly addictive. Although they have a high probability of abuse, they’re approved for limited medical uses. Drugs under this umbrella include:

  • Oxycodone/oxycontin
  • Morphine
  • Hydrocodone
  • Codeine
  • Cocaine
  • Related  opiates

Additional Schedules 

Schedule III drugs differ in that they have a lower likelihood of abuse. Despite being highly addictive, they’re approved for limited medical uses and include GHB, ketamine, and barbituates.

Schedule IV drugs are considered addictive – note the absence of the word highly – with less likelihood of abuse. They include many common prescription drugs. And, finally, schedule V drugs are somewhat addictive with a small likelihood of abuse. They, too, are approved for some medical uses and, again, include many common prescription drugs.

Drug Paraphernalia

This term denotes any accessory, product, or equipment intended to make, use, or conceal drugs, including:

  • Roach clips
  • Masks
  • Bongs
  • Pipes
  • Syringes
  • Needles
  • Capsules
  • Spoons

Potential Defense Strategies

It may seem fruitless to try to defend against drug charges, but every case is unique. This means yours needs the right strategy to try to reduce charges and/or mitigate penalties. To illustrate, prosecutors must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the drugs confiscated were yours. Otherwise, they won’t secure a conviction.

If you didn’t know the drugs were there – as happens when a friend stashes them in your purse or pocket – a defense can be built around this fact. The same is true if you were arrested simply because you were found in a vehicle or room where drugs were also present. If you weren’t aware of the drugs or weren’t using them, the court needs to be made aware of these facts.

Insufficient Chain of Custody

A lot can go wrong in the chain of custody after police confiscate drugs. Ideally, officers properly handle the drugs to clearly demonstrate those presented in court are the same as those seized at the time of your arrest. But crime scenes can be mishandled so that items get mixed together and fingerprints get lost. Biological evidence may similarly be obtained with non-sterile equipment.  

Evidence is also routinely mishandled. An officer might mislabel drugs in terms of where and when it was found and to which case it belongs. In this same vein, evidence can be lost or mishandled. It’s expected to always remain in a specific department or person’s custody. But if the evidence – in this case, drugs – is lost, minutes, hours, and even days may pass before it’s found again. Throughout that time, the police have no control over its handling.

Still More Concerns

Police in Kansas City may additionally fail to book evidence that could be crucial to your defense. And certain evidence may be improperly stored. If placed somewhere with poor ventilation or in an unsanitary environment, that evidence may be degraded. Finally, when substances and objects are shipped from one location to another for testing, they may be mislabeled, lost, or further contaminated.

Police Misconduct

Nobody is perfect, and the same is true of police officers. In certain situations, they may conduct an unlawful search or seizure that can provide a defense to charges of drug possession. It’s important to remember police need a warrant, verbal permission, or probable cause to search you or your property. Without one of these elements, they may have violated your Fourth Amendment rights.

To illustrate, if police entered your car or home without a warrant or permission, you were likely the victim of an unlawful search. Any drugs or other evidence taken during this time cannot be used against you in court. Once evidence is dismissed from a case, the charges are usually dismissed as well.

Prosecutorial Misconduct

If police make mistakes, it’s to be expected that prosecutors also fall short at times. They may encourage false testimony, tamper with evidence, and even withhold evidence in the hopes of obtaining a conviction. But these acts are unlawful and provide a reason to dismiss your case – regardless of the underlying facts.

False Lab Results

If the police take something of yours you know is legal, you should rest easy. But sometimes, the lab results still come back positive for illegal drugs. This can be owed to a variety of reasons, and getting to the bottom of why will help substantiate your defense. Your lawyer will need to ask how many false positives are returned by that lab each year and for proprietary information on how the equipment works.

The lab likely will not provide that proprietary information, but asking for it can open the door to further defense work. It’s possible your substance got lost in the chain of custody or that the prosecution provided the lab with the wrong evidence. The most important element is in having an attorney who will fight to tell your story.

Mitigating the Consequences of Yoru Charge

Even if one of these defenses does not apply to your case, standing up for your rights can mitigate the consequences of your arrest. Kansas City judges consider the whole of the picture when making sentencing decisions, and you may be able to significantly reduce your penalty by showing those factors that weigh in your favor.

Beating a drug charge is about more than winning a trial. It’s about preserving your freedom, and with the right attorney by your side, you can develop a strategy to put your life back on track. Our team is devoted to criminal law and wants to secure the best possible future for you. Schedule a free consultation today by contacting Henderson Legal Defense, LLC.