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Possession of Illegal Drugs and Related Paraphernalia Are the Most Common Charges

Adam: Typically, they’re going to have probably more than one charge. The most common scenario that I see is someone’s stopped for an alleged traffic violation, and there’s a search. Usually, consent is unfortunately given.

From there, they might get a citation for a traffic violation in addition to whatever is found in their possession. The other scenario that’s very common is, especially with heroin, is possession of the heroin itself, and then possession of drug implements or instruments.

Will the Prosecutor Ask for Severe Penalties for These Charges?

Interviewer: What kinds of penalties are the prosecutors are asking for on these cases? Are they really harsh on people or is it not too bad?

The Sentence Could Include a Jail Sentence Over a Year in Length

Adam: It’s going to vary depending on which court you’re in. Possession of heroin is a felony, so the prospect of substantial jail time in excess of a year is not uncommon. It is depending on what comes out as far as taking it to trial or if there’s a decent plea agreement being offered. Again, it’s going to depend on what court it’s in.

The Courts Encourage Defendants to Seek Treatment for Drug Abuse Problems

Interviewer: So how are the courts treating people that are charged with possession?

Are they trying to crack down, or is it still that they haven’t caught up with the surge in the amount and they’re just treating them as any other place would?

Adam: I would say that they probably have lightened up, to a degree, depending on the person’s background. They would take into account how many priors they have, and what those priors are.

Since possession of a drug is a nonviolent felony, there is greater opportunity for the individual to get treatment in lieu or go through what we have called ‘drug court” which allows them to avoid jail provided that they successfully complete the programs.

Having Your Drug-Related Case Heard in a Drug Court

Interviewer: These drug possession cases can be heard in specific drug courts?

Adam: It’s not a different court; it would be part of the common pleas court system. One judge in particular would probably have what is called a ‘drug court.’ He would also handle other cases in addition to drug court, but there would be one specific day that all he does is hears drug-related plea cases.

By Adam Hunt

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