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What Are Low-Level Drug Offenders?

Some legal terminology can be confusing — almost like the legal community is speaking another language — so it’s always good to clarify what a specific term actually means … for example, what are “low-level drug offenders”?

The term “low-level drug offenders” often refers to individuals charged with non-violent, minor drug-related offenses. Typically, they’re facing misdemeanor charges.

However, understanding the nuances of low-level drug charges is crucial, as these offenses can carry serious consequences under both federal and California drug laws.

If you’re facing any level of drug charges, it’s important to obtain legal counsel right away. Call 559-691-6222 or click here to request a free consultation.

Here are three examples of low-level drug charges to help explain the term …

Low-Level Drug Offender Example 1: Simple Possession

Simple possession is one of the most common low-level drug offenses. It involves individuals found with a small amount of illegal controlled substances for personal use.

Examples of illegal controlled substances include marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, and prescription medications without a valid prescription.

Sentences for Simple Possession:

  • Federal Law: Simple possession is generally classified as a misdemeanor under federal law, with potential penalties of up to one year in prison and fines of up to $1,000 for a first offense. Subsequent convictions may lead to increased penalties.
  • California Law: In California, simple possession is typically charged as a misdemeanor. The penalties may include up to one year in county jail and fines. Proposition 47, passed in 2014, reduced certain drug possession offenses from felonies to misdemeanors.

When are drug crimes considered state vs. federal offenses?

Possible Legal Defenses for Simple Possession:

  • Illegal Search and Seizure: If the search and seizure leading to the discovery of drugs were conducted unlawfully, an attorney may argue a violation of your Fourth Amendment rights.
  • Lack of Knowledge: A defense based on lack of knowledge may be employed if you were unaware of the presence of the drugs.

Low-Level Drug Offender Example 2: Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

Possession of drug paraphernalia involves having tools or equipment associated with drug use or distribution. This includes items such as pipes, scales, or syringes. While not directly related to drug use, these charges are often considered low-level offenses.

Sentences for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia:

  • Federal Law: Federal penalties for possession of drug paraphernalia include fines and potential imprisonment of up to one year.
  • California Law: In California, possession of drug paraphernalia is typically a misdemeanor with penalties including fines and potential jail time.

Possible Legal Defenses for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia:

  • Lack of Intent: If you can demonstrate that you were unaware of the nature of the items or did not intend to use them for illicit drug-related activities, lack of intent may be a viable defense.
  • Unlawful Search and Seizure: Similar to possession charges, a defense attorney may consider a defense based on a Fourth Amendment violation if the search leading to the discovery of paraphernalia was conducted unlawfully.

Low-Level Drug Offender Example 3: Prescription Drug Fraud

Low-level drug offenses can also include prescription drug fraud, where individuals obtain prescription medications illegally. They do this typically through forgery or doctor shopping.

Sentences for Prescription Drug Fraud:

  • Federal Law: Federal penalties for prescription drug fraud can result in significant fines and imprisonment, depending on the extent of the fraud and the specific medications involved.
  • California Law: In California, prescription drug fraud is treated seriously and can lead to substantial penalties, including imprisonment and fines.

Possible Legal Defenses for Prescription Drug Fraud:

  • Lack of Intent: Similar to other drug offenses, an attorney may argue that you did not have the intent to engage in fraudulent activities and may have been unaware of the illegality of your actions.
  • Prescription Error: If you can demonstrate that the prescription error was accidental or due to a misunderstanding, this could be a viable defense.

Even Low-Level Drug Charges Should be Defended

Low-level drug charges are still serious and you should not ignore them. So, if you or someone you know is facing charges for any type of drug crime, it’s important to talk to a criminal defense attorney with experience in these cases right away.

Facing any type of drug charges can be a daunting experience, but legal help is available.

Mark Broughton is a criminal defense lawyer in Fresno with 40+ years of experience, and he will fight to get you the best possible outcome. He sees every individual’s situation with compassion and empathy. And he believes that every person has the right to a fair trial and is innocent until proven guilty.

If you are facing criminal charges, call 559-691-6222 or click here to request a free consultation. We’ll get back to you right away.

Have More Questions Regarding Drug Crimes?

We do our best to answer common questions on our FAQ Page.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only. Information on this website may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information.