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Washington DC Drug Lawyer

Drug Lawyer in Washington, DCWhen faced with a charge of being in violation of Washington, DC’s stringent drug laws, you may initially believe you will get nothing more than a slap on the wrist. The reality is that DC drug charges are sometimes pursued as aggressively by prosecutors as far more inherently violent crimes. By working with a Washington, DC drug lawyer, you can being taking steps to protect yourself and build a strong defense.

The war on drugs this country has waged has served to incarcerate millions for what many would argue is a public health issue, rather than a criminal matter. Nonetheless, District law enforcement and prosecutors are known to pursue such cases with vigor and the full weight of their resources. Whether you are faced with a charge of drug possession, or more serious allegations of distribution or manufacturing, working with a dedicated criminal defense attorney can help mitigate the potential ramifications of such charges.

Possessing a controlled substance, with the exception of possessing two ounces or less of marijuana, carries a potential 180-day jail sentence and/or a $1,000 fine. However, variations in the facts of your case, such as the amount and type of drug, can elevate that charge to possession with intent to distribute, which carries up to 30 years in prison and/or $75,000 in fines.

DC Drug Possession Defined

Whether you had the drugs in your pocket or even on the seat next to you, you could be charged with “possessing” them. Under DC law, possession can be actual or constructive. Actual possession means the substance is in the physical custody of the person charged with possession, such as in the person’s hand or pockets.

Constructive possession means that although the person may not have had the substance physically in their possession, they had the intent and power to control the substance —perhaps within reach or found in an area accessible to the individual.

After reviewing the facts of your case, your DC drug lawyer can inform you about how one or both of these different types of possession might apply to your legal defense.

What Constitutes a Controlled Substance in DC?

Controlled substances are defined in Section 48-901.02(4) as a drug or substance that falls within Schedule I through V of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Schedule I controlled substances are the most strictly regulated because they are deemed the most dangerous and have a high potential for abuse. Conversely, Schedule V controlled substances are the least regulated because of a low potential of abuse and injury. In the District of Columbia, drug offenses are generally broken down into different levels of prohibited acts, which are divided into one of four categories listed alphabetically.

Based on the type of substance an individual is accused of possessing, manufacturing, or selling, the penalties associated with a conviction can vary.  It’s important to speak with a DC drug lawyer as soon as possible so that you can get a realistic understanding of all the potential outcomes of your case and work to achieve the most favorable legal outcome possible under the circumstances.

Manufacturing and Distributing Drugs in DC

Prohibited Acts A are defined by Section 48-904.01 and include several different criminal offenses, the most serious of which focus on the manufacture and distribution of certain narcotics. See Section 48-904.01(a)-(b). This provision, however, also includes less serious crimes, such as mere possession of a controlled substance. §48-904.03a of the Washington, DC code makes it illegal for any person to open or maintain any place to manufacture, distribute, or store a narcotic or abusive drug for the purpose of manufacture or distribution.

Manufacture, distribution, and possession with the intent to manufacture or distribute drugs is defined by DC Code Section 48-901.01(a). In lay terms, the code states that it is illegal for anyone to knowingly create, make, or sell controlled substances as previously defined. It is also illegal for anyone to possess controlled substances for the purpose of making or selling drugs. An individual can be found guilty of possessing controlled substances for the purposes of selling narcotics, or manufacturing more drugs, even if the transaction or actual manufacturing process did not occur.

Penalties for Manufacturing and Distribution in DC

As noted earlier, those convicted of manufacturing, distributing or possessing with the intent to make or sell a Schedule I or II controlled substance will face up to 30 years in prison and/or up to $75,000 in fines. Examples of drugs that fall within the Schedule I and II classifications include, but are not limited to, PCHP, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, methamphetamine, and some opiates, such as oxycodone.

Those found guilty of manufacturing, distributing, or possessing with the intent to distribute or sell Schedule I, II, or III substances that are not “abusive drugs” face up to five years in prison and/or up to $12,500 in fines. If, however, the substance is half a pound or less of marijuana, and the accused has no prior drug offenses, they would face up to $1,000 in fines and/or up to 180 days in jail.

New Rules Regarding Marijuana Possession in DC

As of February 26, 2015, the District of Columbia legalized small amounts of marijuana (en español marihuana) that may be used for personal consumption on private property under a law known as Initiative 71. Initiative 71 specifies that individuals who are at least 21 years old may possess up to two ounces of marijuana as well as paraphernalia that is associated with personal use legally.  For those under the age of 21, it still remains an illegal substance, like alcohol. You must be able to prove your age to avoid being cited, if requested to do so by local police.

If you have any questions about how the law has changed, or how these changes may affect you or your case, please contact a DC drug attorney today.

Evidence Used in DC Drug Cases

The success of a DC drug case hinges on the evidence presented by the prosecution. How that evidence was found and seized can play a major role in your case. Your DC drug lawyer will investigate the manner in which evidence was collected and the accuracy of drug test results, as well as question the admissibility and sufficiency of the government’s evidence to ensure your constitutional rights were not violated. The court process is complex and lengthy. To understand the legal aspects of your case and all of the options available to you, call DC drug attorney Shawn Sukumar for a free consultation.

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