An Overview of Drug Related Charges in the State of Utah

Interviewer: Can you talk about Drug related problems in the area and county that you cover?

Matthew Nebeker: Drug charges and drug problems, they are everywhere in almost every community.  Small town or big town, drugs are usually an issue at some level.  My practice extends all the way from the northern portion of Utah, which would be up in what they call Cache County or Box Elder County. Logan City would be included in that.  Brigham City would be included.  Then it would extend all the way south, through St. George, Utah, which is at the very south.

I handle these types of cases throughout the state of Utah.  My practice is pretty narrowly focused. For a long period of time, it’s strictly been DUI but I’m noticing more and more how the DUI’s interact with the drug charges.  It’s important that my clients know that I can also defend them on the drug charges. Here’s what usually happens is someone, in the DUI process, is stopped for traffic infraction or an equivalent violation.  The officer suspects that the driver might be under the influence of something.

Drug Related Crimes often Interact with DUI Charges in Utah

They have them come out of their vehicle, perform the field sobriety test and usually they’re arrested.  They’re taken to the jail or the hospital and their blood is drawn.  In that process, through the search after the arrest or the inventory search, they will identify and locate some drugs. These could be prescription drugs, street drugs, something like that.  What happens usually, other than small quantities of marijuana, the drug charges are usually in the felony range.

Drug Charges are More Serious in Nature because it’s at the Felony Level as opposed to DUI which is mostly at Misdemeanor Level

A lot of my clients are charged with felony possession of cocaine or methamphetamine or heroin or some kind of prescription drug.  They’re also charged with DUI.  The more serious charge is the drug charge because it’s at the felony level versus the DUI which is usually at the misdemeanor B level. The DUI, if convicted, would be a little bit of jail time.  However, if they were convicted of the felony, they could possibly go to prison.

That’s how I see a lot of interplay between the DUI’s and the drug charges.  That’s why I wanted to expand here a little bit and let my future clients know that I do handle and experienced in handling the drug charges along with their DUI.

Commonly Abused Drugs in the State of Utah

Interviewer: What are the most common drugs that you see in here?

Matthew Nebeker: Typically, it is methamphetamine.  You see a lot of that.  You see a lot of heroin.  A lot of cocaine.  Recently, there’s been a lot of the synthetic type drugs.  The drugs that are, other than methamphetamine, that are made in labs.  An example of that would be spice, that have almost the same chemical structure as heroin or cocaine. Those are the big ones.  Those are the street drugs.  Then there’s the prescription drugs.  There’s the morphine, the Ambien, things like that.  The codeine, hydrocodone.  People will borrow these prescriptions from their family members.

I don’t want to use the word, “steal.”  Sometimes their family members will give them to them or they’ll see them in their medicine cabinets and take them and not realize the significance of what they’ve just done or the significance of them possessing that one pill or those one or two pills. That’s mainly the kind of drugs we’ve been dealing with lately.

Marijuana is the most Prevalent Drug Currently being abused

Interviewer: Do you see those more often than marijuana?

Matthew Nebeker: No.  Actually, marijuana is the most prevalent. The one that’s seen the most.  We’re seeing that more and more.  A person could be in possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.  It ends up being in a class B misdemeanor on the first offense.  A lot of marijuana.

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