Should You Plead Guilty to a Drug Possession Charge?

People who are subject to arrests for drug possession in West Virginia often have a tendency to believe that pleading guilty to drug offenses is not a big deal when they are facing misdemeanor charges. The truth is that even misdemeanor convictions can still have long-term consequences, and prosecutors may enhance underlying misdemeanor possession charges when the amount of a drug seized is enough to constitute a possession with an intent to deliver charge, so you will want to be sure that you quickly find an attorney. 

More than 30,000 people are arrested for drug crimes every year. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also found that 34,229 of 38,289 marijuana arrests were for possession, and marijuana possession arrests accounted for 48 percent of all drug arrests in West Virginia.

West Virginia Drug Possession Penalties

Convictions for drug possession can have varying consequences depending on the type of drug an alleged offender allegedly possessed and the amount of that drug. When a person allegedly possesses 28 grams or less of marijuana, the crime will be simple possession of marijuana punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000 for a first offense, but a repeat offense can result in up to one year in jail.

Simple possession of cocaine is misdemeanor possession of 1 gram or less of cocaine. A first conviction is punishable by as much as three years in jail and/or a fine of up to $5,000, but any subsequent offense is a felony, with a second conviction being punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $7,500 and a third or subsequent conviction being punishable by up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $12,500, or both.

It is also a misdemeanor for a person to possess less than 100 milligrams of alpha- or beta-eucaine, four grains of opium, four grains of morphine, two grains of heroin, 100 milligrams of isonipecaine, 10 grams of hashish, 50 micrograms of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), 15 tablets, capsules, dosage units, or the equivalent quantity of three 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), or 20 milliliters or milligrams of gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) or a controlled substance analogue of GHB. Penalties for a first offense involving a Schedule I or Schedule II narcotic controlled substance or LSD include a fine of up to $5,000 and/or up to two years in prison. 

Second offenses involving these drugs are felonies and involve fines of up to $5,000 and/or up to five years in prison. Third and subsequent offenses can be punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and/or up to five years in prison.

Possessing any other Schedule I, Schedule II, Schedule III, Schedule IV, or Schedule V controlled substance is a misdemeanor, and a first offense becomes punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, up to six months in jail, or both. A second or subsequent offense is punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 and/or up to one year in jail.

When an alleged offender is facing accusations of possessing more than the specified limits of these drugs, then the potential will exist for them to face possible possession with intent to distribute charges. Such charges are also likely in cases in which law enforcement officers find alleged offenders to be in possession of certain paraphernalia indicating drug dealing activities, such as baggies, large amounts of cash, or scales.

Possession with intent to distribute crimes dramatically increase possible penalties because the crime will become a felony punishable by as much as 15 years in prison, up to $25,000 in fines, or both for a first offense. A second offense becomes punishable by up to 30 years in prison and/or up to $50,000 in fines, and a third or subsequent offense becomes punishable by up to 30 years in prison and/or up to $50,000 in fines with no chance for probation or suspension.

Alternative Sentences for West Virginia Drug Possession Crimes

You will want to be working with a skilled criminal defense attorney when you are considering your plea to drug charges because it is possible that your legal representation can negotiate a far more favorable outcome for you. One possible benefit is a reduction in the criminal charges you are facing, so your possible sentence for a guilty plea will be far less burdensome.

Many communities in West Virginia also have drug courts in which alleged offenders agree to treatment and supervision. When a person successfully completes a drug court program, they can get their criminal charges completely dismissed.

Pretrial intervention is another type of diversion program for first-time, non-violent alleged offenders who do not have a significant criminal record. While an alleged offender will have to pay application and participation fees to enter the program, completing the program will pave the way for a possible expungement of criminal records. 

Call Us Today to Schedule a Free Consultation with a Charleston Drug Possession Lawyer

If you are currently facing a drug possession charge in West Virginia, you should not assume that pleading guilty will be the easiest resolution to your case because even a misdemeanor conviction can impact your ability to find a job, secure housing, or earn professional licensing. Cary Law Office has defended all kinds of drug crime defendants and our firm represents alleged offenders throughout the greater Charleston area.

Our firm will know the best ways to fight any kind of alleged drug possession crime, and we can work to make sure that you can achieve the outcome of your case that results in the fewest possible penalties. You can call or contact us online to set up a free consultation that will allow us to discuss all of the details of your case with you and then begin talking about potential defenses and how we can help you fight your criminal charges.