It is an unfortunate reality in our society that drugs are not only around, but seem to be everywhere. Although we don’t often see them, they are out there and are being held onto by someone. If that someone is you, and you are contacted by the police, you need to know the potential consequences of possessing drugs and how an attorney can help you get through this problem.
Drug Possession in Washington State
In Washington State, drug offenses are called VUCSA offenses, or a Violation of the Uniform Controlled Substance Act. Generally, these VUCSA charges come in the way of Possession of a Controlled Substance, Possession with Intent to Deliver, Delivering a Controlled Substance, and Manufacturing a Controlled Substance. All of these different charges are very serious, and can lead to prison time, felony convictions, mandated treatment, exorbitant fines and more. It is important to take these charges seriously, and we’re here to help.
Possession of A Controlled Substance
Possession of a Controlled Substance, the definition of which is inherent in the title, is a Class C felony in Washington State and is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Whether the drug is cocaine, a prescription drug that you don’t have a prescription for, meth, heroin, or ecstasy (and the list goes on), you’re looking at a potential felony charge and a 5-year maximum sentence. Keep in mind that this is a maximum sentence, and hiring a good attorney will hopefully mean that your consequences are nowhere close to these extreme levels.
Factors Important to Your Drug Case
There are several important factors that can go into what happens with your Possession of Drug case. The factors that courts generally look at as most important are your criminal history (especially of drug offenses), the type of drug that was found, the amount of drug that was found, whether there was evidence that you intended to sell this drug, and whether weapons were also found. If you don’t have much criminal history, and the amount of drug that was found isn’t high (amount for reasonable personable use), you may be considered for what is called an Expedited Felony resolution, or something similar. Many counties in this State – including King, Snohomish, and Pierce – have a calendar that is basically meant to streamline some of the simple Possession of Controlled Substance cases. The benefit to the Defendant in these situations is that the charge is generally amended to Solicitation of Possession or Attempted Possession, which reduces this Class C felony to a gross misdemeanor. Therefore, it’s sometimes possible to avoid a felony conviction. The benefit to the State in this arrangement is that they can get convictions quickly, and they don’t have to bog down the felony calendars with “low level” drug possession cases. It is important to hire an attorney quickly when contacted by police in a drug case, as a good attorney will check into the possibility of a quick plea to a reduced misdemeanor charge with an Expedited Felony resolution.
Possession With Intent to Deliver
Another consideration when being arrested for possessing drugs is whether or not the prosecutor’s office will try to charge you with Possession with Intent to Deliver. This charge is different than both a Possession charge and a Delivery charge. With a Possession with Intent to Deliver charge, generally, no delivery has actually taken place. Instead, just the quantity found along with other evidence such as scales, baggies, and cash can be considered in determining whether the State thinks you were planning to sell the drugs that you have, or just use them for your own consumption. Possession with Intent to Deliver is more serious than a simple Possession case, and its maximum sentence depends on what type of drug you have and the fine can depend on how much of the drug you have. The analysis of your case and the likelihood of dismissal or reduction is something that you’ll want to call our office about.
Defending Your Drug Case
Possession of Drug cases can range from quite simple to very complex. Due to the potentially harsh sentencing, you will want to have a good attorney on your side. There are also several other considerations in this kind of case that make calling us worthwhile. The most common thing that can be challenged in a Possession of Drugs case is the search and seizure that led to the officers finding your drugs. If the search is later ruled to be improper, everything found in the illegal search must be thrown out of court, usually leading to your drug possession case being dropped. This is a complex analysis, but it is the most common way to defend a drug case. In order for a Possession of Drugs case to “stick,” the officers must find the drugs via a lawful method (warrant, in plain sight, surveillance, etc.). For instance, an officer can’t pull you over for no reason, and then order you out of your car and start searching your vehicle for drugs. Checking with an attorney to make sure the officers found the drugs on you via a lawful method is essential to formulating a good defense in your case.
Options Available in Your Drug Case
There are a plethora of other considerations when it comes to a Possession of Drugs case. One possible resolution unique to a drug case is the opportunity for the accused person to provide information to the drug task force in their area in exchange for not being charged with a crime. This is a serious decision and one that can come with collateral, non-legal consequences, but it may make sense for you depending on the circumstances.
Another consideration is drug court, or some other type of therapeutic court to try to get your charges dropped by completing treatment and other conditions. This is a great option for someone who thinks they have a drug problem, wants help, and also wants to avoid a conviction. This is not available in all drug cases, but it is something that your attorney can look into for you. Drug cases are unique, and if you’re charged with Possession of Drugs or Possession with Intent to Deliver, you’ll want an attorney who will not only explore all avenues for fighting the case, but also all avenues for resolving the case in the way that makes sense for your unique situation.