Missouri’s drug laws specify harsh penalties that are strictly enforced for all controlled substances, including marijuana. The consequences of a drug conviction can include heavy fines and an offense against your criminal record. In most cases, if you are found guilty, your sentence can include prison time. When you are facing drug charges, it is important to contact a drug crime lawyer in Kansas City right away.
Which Drugs Can Send You to Prison on the First Offense?
In the United States, illegal drugs are classified according to their accepted medical uses, addictive qualities, and potential to cause an overdose. While there are five categories for these substances, the possession of any illegal drug in Missouri can result in a Class D felony, punishable with up to seven years of jail time and heavy fines. The only exception is the first-time possession of fewer than 10 grams of marijuana, which constitutes a Class D misdemeanor punishable with a fine of $500.
Which Drugs Are Illegal in Missouri?
A drug is any substance that produces a physiological effect when ingested or introduced into the body in another way. Throughout history, drugs have been used for both medicinal and recreational purposes. Some have the potential to cause harmful side effects, including addiction and even death. The U.S. government imposes laws to control the possession, sale, and trafficking of the drugs it determines to be dangerous. These drugs are known as controlled dangerous substances.
The classification of controlled substances specifies five schedules into which drugs are grouped according to their level of danger. Schedule I includes only harmful drugs that have no accepted medical uses. At the other end of the spectrum, Schedule V includes the least harmful drugs, many of which are available at your local pharmacy. While some controlled substances are available for home use with a prescription from a doctor, possessing them illegally can still result in a felony charge.
Schedule I and Schedule II Drugs
If you are convicted of possessing a drug in the Schedule I or II categories, you are more likely to face jail time. Some of the substances on those lists are:
- Magic mushrooms
- Other opiates
Schedule III, IV, and V Drugs
You are more likely to have access to Schedule III, IV, and V drugs for medical uses, however, the process by which you can obtain these drugs legally is highly regulated. The drugs in Schedule III, IV, and V include:
- Anabolic steroids
How Do Courts Determine if Your Sentence Will Include Jail Time?
Given the harsh attitude towards drug crimes in Missouri, it is very likely that you will be sentenced to prison time if you are convicted. Courts consider a number of factors when making their determination, including the amount of the drug you had and the number of previous offenses on your record. If you are caught manufacturing, trafficking, or distributing an illegal drug, you will face harsher penalties than an individual who is only charged with possession.
You will be considered a persistent offender if you already have two or more drug offenses against you. The severity of the crime for persistent offenders goes up one level from a Class D to a Class C felony. While the prison time for a Class D felony is capped at seven years, a Class C felony is punishable with up to 10 years in prison.
Drug Paraphernalia Laws
In addition to possessing the drugs themselves, the possession of devices and accessories for manufacturing or using them is punishable by law when an individual uses them or intends to use them in association with illegal drugs. Examples of drug paraphernalia include miniature spoons, bongs, and pipes. Tools needed to cultivate or harvest a drug are also classified as drug paraphernalia.
How Can You Avoid Jail Time?
Participating in a Drug Court Program
After you have been charged with a drug crime, the government may offer you participation in a drug court program in exchange for a guilty plea. While these programs can keep you out of jail, the conviction will still end up on your criminal record. Having a drug conviction against you can pose challenges the next time you need to get a new job or find housing. In addition, the programs can be costly and intrusive on your life.
Participation in a drug court program usually requires:
- A guilty plea
- Participation fees
- Regular drug testing
- Community service
Fighting the Charges
The criminal justice system in Missouri is set up to pressure individuals who have been charged with drug crimes into pleading guilty. However, a guilty plea may not be the best option for you, especially when there are valid defense strategies available for your case. A drug crime lawyer in Kansas City will be able to review your case and give you a full understanding of your options and the likelihood of acquittal.
What Defense Strategies Can Help You Avoid Jail Time?
Individuals who choose to fight a drug conviction often stand a better chance of overcoming the charges than the government would have you believe. Just because there is evidence against you does not mean that the government’s case will hold up in court. Here are some examples of defense strategies that have been successful in previous drug cases:
Violations in the Manner and Circumstances of the Arrest
By law, the police must follow strict protocols when they conduct searches and arrests. Any violations of those protocols can result in your case being thrown out. Common examples of police misconduct include:
- Pulling over cars without due cause
- Conducting searches without a warrant
- Failing to read a suspect his or her Miranda rights
- Holding a suspect beyond the acceptable length of time
Additionally, officers are required to handle any substances they confiscate according to specific rules. Any potential mislabeling or contamination of the substance can invalidate it as evidence.
Problems With the Drug Test You Were Given
A positive drug test can seem like strong evidence against you, however, drug tests are often faulty. If you can show that there may have been a problem with the manufacturing of the test or the way in which it was administered or interpreted, you might be able to overcome the charges. Additionally, if you were given the test outside an acceptable window of time from the moment of your arrest, the prosecution cannot use the results against you.
Untruthfulness of the Allegations
Defendants can sometimes prove that the charges against them were false. Taking this approach, you may be able to show that the drugs found in your possession were not yours. In the case of drugs with accepted medical uses, producing a valid prescription to use them could exonerate you.
Learn More From a Drug Crime Lawyer in Kansas City
According to the most basic principles of justice, you have a right to stand up to drug charges. Being acquitted or having your case dismissed are the only ways to avoid both jail time and the consequences of having the conviction appear on your record. To find an attorney who can construct a powerful defense, contact Billam & Henderson, LLC.