Washington, DC Drug Charges
In the District of Columbia, drug charges can be classified as either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the amount and type of controlled substances involved. The D.C. Controlled Substances Act determines what drugs are classified or “scheduled” into various categories. Controlled substances that are considered more dangerous or have a higher risk of addiction are placed in a different schedule from less dangerous controlled substances.
Listed below are the DC drug charges:
Simple Possession of a Controlled Substance (Misdemeanor) – This is a misdemeanor and may involve illegal drugs or possession of prescription drugs without a valid prescription. The prosecution is required to prove that the defendant knowingly possessed a controlled substance. Simple possession of a controlled substance in Washington, DC carries a maximum sentence of 180 days in jail and a $1000 fine for a first offense. The jail time and fines increase for future convictions of Simple Possession.
Distribution of a Controlled Substance (Felony) – This is a felony, and the penalty depends on the type and amount of controlled substances involved. It is the schedule level that determines the severity of the offense. Penalties range from 1 to 30 years depending on the type and amount of drug involved. To get a conviction, the government is required to prove that the defendant knowingly manufactured or distributed a controlled substance or possessed a controlled substance with intent to distribute it. The government can claim that the defendant intended to distribute a controlled substance if the defendant had a certain amount of the drugs–even if there was never any intent to sell the drugs.
Defending drug charges involves a real understanding of police procedure, evidence, and the law of search and seizure provided by the DC laws and the US Constitution and its amendments. Success often depends on whether your drug charges lawyer can show that the evidence was obtained in an illegal or improper manner and should not be used against the defendant at trial. Drug cases are often won by the defense at a Motion to Suppress Evidence Hearing. If the government cannot introduce evidence at trial, they generally do not have a case. Always remember that an arrest is not a conviction.