Tacoma Drug Lawyer
It’s no secret that the state of Washington handles drug crimes very seriously. Police officers and prosecutors pursue these cases aggressively and the penalties may include expensive fines, incarceration, and a damaging mark against your criminal record.
These are frightening prospects for anyone. The full impact of a conviction will largely depend on your specific circumstances, the allegations made against you, your criminal history, and any aggravating factors. This makes it critical to handle the matter quickly with effective legal representation. With a track record of taking action to achieve results, drug crimes attorney Morgan Fletcher Benfield is ready to explain your situation and fight for you.
Washington Drug Crimes Explained
Under Washington Law (RCW 69.50), drug crimes are Violations of the Uniform Controlled Substance Act (VUCSA). It is important to remember that a controlled substance includes drugs like cocaine and heroin as well as illicit prescription drugs. If you have been charged with a VUCSA offense, the consequences you’ll face will rely upon:
- The type of drug in question
- The quantity of the drug
- Whether your intent was to use or sell the drug
- Your prior criminal history
- Was a weapon used or in your possession
VUCSA drug charges are divided into two categories — misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanor offenses are filed in District and Municipal Court while felonies are filed in Superior court. The consequences for misdemeanors will also vary from a simple misdemeanor with up to 90 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine to a gross misdemeanor with up to 364 days in jail and as high as a $5,000 fine.
Felonies are classified by their severity (Class A, B, or C). With each category carrying the following penalties:
- Felony Class C: Up to five years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
- Felony Class B: Up to 10 years in prison and up to a $20,000 fine.
- Felony Class A: Up to life in prison and up to a $50,000 fine
Marijuana in Washington
Anyone over the age of 21 with a valid ID can legally purchase up to one ounce of marijuana in Washington; however, if the total amount of marijuana in your possession is over one ounce, but under 40 grams, you could still be charged with a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Washington Drug Charges
Possession of any illegal drug, and marijuana more than 40 grams is charged as a class C felony. If convicted, the sentence can be up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Drug Sales or Delivery
Under Washington law, “delivery” means handing an illegal drug to another. Its classification as a felony will depend on the type and amount involved. To convict a person for delivery, no money needs to change hands. This can include gifting or sharing drugs and penalties can include years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines.
Possession with Intent to Distribute
This refers to possessing a controlled substance with the intention of selling it. The penalties are contingent on the type and quantity. To prove possession with intent, prosecutors may present evidence such as scales, baggies, or testimony from witnesses.
Drug Manufacturing, Cultivation, or Importation
This refers to the production, preparation, or processing of a controlled substance. The most common manufacture charge in Washington relates to marijuana since only those with a license can legally grow cannabis. This is a class C felony with a possible punishment of up to five years in prison. Other serious drug manufacturing crimes include processing cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin. These have heightened penalties as Class B felonies with prison sentences of up to 10 years.
Most paraphernalia charges result when someone is caught with a syringe, pipe, scale, or object related to the usage, testing, or sale of drugs. Drug paraphernalia charges are often coupled with other drug crimes, but is a misdemeanor in Washington on its own. It carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 1 day in jail and a $250 fine as well as a maximum sentence of $1,000 fine and 90 days in jail.
Under RCW 46.61.502 you are prohibited from driving “under the influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor, marijuana or any drug.” This covers any impairing agent found in your bloodstream. Since there is no predetermined amount to facilitate a conviction, impairment is established on a case-by case basis. If convicted, an offender will be subjected to Washington’s normal DUI penalties.
What are My Options?
Besides the obvious monetary fines and time lost behind bars, a drug conviction will have life-long implications to your professional and personal life. Employers will often shy away from hiring someone with a criminal past and obtaining financial aid or affordable housing will be all but impossible. That’s why early intervention from a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney is always advisable.
At The Law Offices of Morgan Fletcher Benfield, PLLC, we understand your charges are serious. We also realize that many of the people caught up in the criminal justice system for drug offenses often benefit from alternative programs rather than prison. By partnering with a skilled Washington drug attorney, you can often secure a more appropriate option like drug treatment, drug court, and diversion programs for nonviolent offenders.
In every drug case, our goal will always be to aggressively confront the evidence against you and build a strong drug defense. Drug charges usually stem from traffic stops and searches conducted after other minor offenses. We will scrutinize all the evidence collected, including lab reports, witness statements, and police reports to find any mistakes or oversights. If your rights were violated or evidence was improperly collected, we can use that to possibly have the evidence excluded, the charges dismissed, reduced, or to ensure you receive a favorable outcome at sentencing.
You Need an Aggressive Tacoma Drug Lawyer
The truth is that the drug laws in Washington are complex and the penalties can be exceptionally harsh.
If you’re facing drug charges, time will be of the essence and finding a skilled criminal defense attorney to fight for you should be your top priority.
When you call The Law Offices of Morgan Fletcher Benfield, PLLC for a free consultation, not only will we go over your situation and provide a better idea of what you are dealing with, we will offer practical solutions, so you obtain the best possible result.