What Are The Common Drug Offense Cases That You Handle?
The most common cases that I handle, and it is because there are more of these cases than others, are possession of controlled substances. That is someone who is a user, and is caught with a small amount of drugs, a usable amount on their persons, or in their vehicle. They have it in their possession, or they have used it. Beyond that is possession with the intent to distribute, meaning they have a larger quantity on them, and that quantity is packaged in smaller quantities, and appears they are getting ready to sell those smaller packages, or amounts. That is possession with the intent to distribute.
We see many productions of controlled substances, and that mainly is around people who are growing their own marijuana, we could call it cultivation, or meth labs. Another big one we handle is drug paraphernalia. The definition of drug paraphernalia is broad. The statute is general, and encompasses many things. Therefore, law enforcement is able to make that charge easily, but right along with some of those productions, or distribution charges that you might not think about, is when it comes to drug charges is forging, or altering a prescription. Some people will have a hand written prescription from their doctor for a controlled substance, and they will change it.
Instead of ten pills, they will make it one-hundred pills or something like that. We see that quite a bit. Along those lines, we also see a charge of what we call in general terms, doctor shopping. This is where an individual is going to different doctors, and complaining of multiple injuries, and pain, and getting another prescription. They do the same thing, and not disclose to the other physicians who are treating them. That is doctor shopping. Those are the big charges, and we see many of those incidents frequently.
How Are Drug Charges Determined To Be Either Misdemeanor Or Felony Charges?
Most of those charges I mentioned are felonies, but possession. Some of the controlled substance, possession of the controlled substance, and the paraphernalia charges are misdemeanors, but what makes a difference on how the prosecutor charges them, is based on what schedule of drug they are on, and how they are classified by the state of Utah, and the Federal government and quantity.
They will look to see what schedule it is or how much was it. For example, a small amount of marijuana would be a Class B misdemeanor, like a couple of joints. They would appear in front of a justice of the peace, whereas if they had a couple of pounds of marijuana, based on weight, they could be charged as a felony, just for the weight of it, but it might look like the individual was going to or had the intent to possibly distribute. That could make it a felony, but it generally depends on the type of drug, and quantity.
What Are The Different Schedules Of Unlawful Controlled Substance In Utah Law?
A controlled substance is drugs, or substances under the federal schedules. That is schedule l through V, and Utah has adopted those same schedules. Being the most severe is Schedule l, and those are substances that are highly addictive, and have no medical benefit to anyone, or that is what the government claims. To possess those controlled substances, someone must have a prescription, permit, or a license by the state, or federal government.
When we put the term unlawful in front of them, if you do not have that permit, or you do not have that prescription to possess that, then that is what is unlawful about it. Most people think that unlawful controlled substance means your street drugs, such as marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and things like that. While those are Schedule l drugs, there is no medicinal use, and highly addictive. To possess them is what makes them unlawful. It is the fact that they do not have a permit or a prescription to that effect.
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