The state takes a strong stance against the possession and use of controlled substances. Convictions for drug crimes typically result in fines and incarceration. The law determines the severity of misdemeanor or felony charges based on the classification of controlled substances and the amount.
State statutes rate drugs by the dangers associated with them. The classification system separates drugs into five schedules with Schedule I drugs representing what the state has deemed to be the most hazardous. A bulk amount system also influences the strength of criminal charges with drug amounts beneath a certain threshold producing lighter penalties than amounts above the threshold.
Individuals with Schedule III, IV or V substances could face charges of drug possession. People found guilty of possessing Schedule I or II substances could receive a charge of aggravated possession if the substance is something other than LSD, cocaine, heroin or marijuana. Although penalties vary by drug types, drug possession under the bulk amount generally results in a first-degree misdemeanor that could require a jail sentence up to 180 days and possibly a $1,000 fine. Subsequent offenses ramp up charges to the felony level, which raises jail time sentences and fines. Fourth-degree felony charges arise from possession over the bulk amount but less than five times the bulk amount.
Due to the many details that direct the application of drug charges, a person might want to discuss a criminal case with a defense attorney. A legal representative may provide answers about the nature of charges and the associated penalties. This information may allow a person to understand the stakes when making a decision about how to plea. An attorney might be able to develop a defense strategy if the person did not know about the drugs or law enforcement violated the person's rights.