Regardless of your branch of service, the United States military has implemented a strict “zero tolerance” policy when it comes to using illegal drugs or substances otherwise banned. In fact, even drugs that are not illegal in civilian environments can lead to penalties under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). This is of particular concern in places like Washington state, considering that recreational marijuana is legal for civilian adults 21 and over. However, if you are a member of the military this would be a violation. The military also utilizes various screening and testing methods to identify offenders. From the innocent ingestion of prohibited supplements to accusations regarding illegal drugs, the consequences you face as a military member are serious and need to be properly addressed.
With your military career and independence hanging in the balance, time is of the essence and you’ll need someone advocating for your interests. At The Law Offices of Morgan Fletcher Benfield, PLLC, we know what it takes to defend against civilian and military drug charges and will tirelessly pursue a result that protects your freedom and rank.
If you’re a service member facing a civilian or military-related drug charge in the Tacoma area, call (253) 375-8055 to schedule a free consultation with military drug lawyer Morgan Fletcher Benfield.
Drug Laws in Washington
A Washington drug crime is considered a Violation of the Uniform Controlled Substance Act (VUCSA). This includes substances like heroin, cocaine, and illegal prescription drugs. The level of the offense and your potential consequences under the criminal code will be based upon its classification as either a felony or misdemeanor. This is determined by the type of drug, the quantity in your possession, your intent to distribute or sell the drug, your prior history, and whether any aggravating factors were present, like the use or possession of a weapon.
Drug Charges for Military Members
Military members are held to a high standard regarding the possession and use of drugs and other banned substances. While there are many drugs that are illegal for both civilians and service members, there are exceptions like in the case of marijuana. Military members can also be punished if they test positive for any drug that alters the mind, temperament, body, or ability to function.
Some of the most common criminal drug charges in the military include:
- Drug Possession
- Testing Positive for Illegal of banned substances
- Drug Paraphernalia
- Drug Sales & Delivery
- Drug DUI
- Possession with intent to distribute
In addition to any of the items included on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) list of Controlled Substances, other non-illegal items are also banned by the Department of Defense (DOD). This includes things like spice, synthetic cannabinoids, amphetamines, mood-altering substances, anabolic steroids, and prescription drugs for which you do not have a current prescription.
Military Consequences for Drug Crimes
When a service member is charged with a drug crime while off-duty or off-base, they also face repercussions from the military in addition to the civilian court system. However, with the military’s firm stance and more comprehensive list of banned items, jurisdiction issues often arise and can become complex. For example, even if criminal charges are avoided, a military member can still likely be subjected to a court-martial or other administrative penalties. These may include but are not limited to:
- Base / Deployment Restrictions
- Loss of Leave
- Rank or Pay Reduction
- Required Substance Abuse Treatment
- Loss of Security Clearance
- Lost Promotion Opportunities
- Dishonorable Discharge
Penalties for Drug Abuse in the Military
With such stringent regulations, it should come as little surprise that drug use is the most common drug crime in the military. These typically stem from an isolated incident or momentary lapse in judgment, but can be indications of a larger substance abuse issue. Drug abuse is a serious issue in the military and could even be considered a form of officer misconduct, which may be grounds for involuntary discharge or a court-martial. In some instances, even if a service member avoids a court-martial, a misconduct discharge proceeding can still be initiated.
Speak with a Tacoma Military Drug Lawyer First
It’s clear that when it comes to drug charges, members of the military have a lot to lose. That makes it imperative to contact a client-driven and aggressive legal representative to defend you on any front. Many service members falsely believe they are best served by simply accepting their plight and facing the consequences, but that is rarely the best choice for you or your military career. There is just too much on the line to forego your rights. By partnering with a qualified military drug attorney, who knows how to address thes issues, you can present a defense and ensure your story is clearly told.
While a civilian drug charge may feel like the end of everything you worked to achieve, a skilled military defense attorney can help show that you were unaware an illegal drug was in your possession or you unconsciously encountered an illicit substance where their use is not prohibited or could be considered common, like parties, bars, concert venues, or nightclubs. Additionally, when drug abuse issues come to light, there are options to consider. The stress and trauma that members of the armed forces go through is immense and addiction can be a tragic byproduct. Fortunately, there are treatment options for veterans, including specialized facilities and programs. We can help you find the right program for your needs while building a defense to any possible military discipline.
If you’re a member of the armed services and have been charged with a drug crime in the Tacoma area, attorney Morgan Fletcher Benfield is ready to evaluate your situation and how you can effectively reduce or eliminate its impact. Call (253) 375-8055 to schedule a free and confidential consultation today.