Attitudes toward the “war on drugs” are changing in many parts of the United States, and in Colorado in particular. Still, possession of certain drugs remains illegal and can carry serious penalties. Regardless of whether current policy in Colorado on illegal drug possession is right or wrong, or whether related prosecutions exhibit racial disparities and inconsistency in sentences, drug possession and distribution charges are common and can carry life-altering repercussions.
Do not wait to get trusted legal advice if you are facing drug crime charges. An experienced Colorado drug crime lawyer can work to fight the charges against you from the very beginning, poking holes in the prosecution’s case and pushing for a reduction or dismissal of charges. At Patterson Weaver Law, LLC, our criminal defense attorneys have extensive experience handling these types of cases. We will fight for the best possible outcome for you.
Contact us now for a free consultation.
Types of Drug Crime Cases We Can Help With
Our Colorado Springs drug crime attorneys have successfully represented people facing a wide range of charges, including:
- Drug possession — As of March 1, 2020, possession of fewer than 4 grams of most Schedule I or Schedule II drugs is no longer a felony offense in Colorado. Instead, you’ll be charged with a misdemeanor, with potential penalties including two years of probation, 180 days in jail, and a fine of up to $1,000. However, possessing more than 4 grams of a Schedule I or Schedule II drug, or any amount of GHB, Flunitrazepam, Ketamine, or cathinone, is still a felony in Colorado. Potential penalties for felony drug possession include six months to two years in prison, along with $1,000 to $10,000 in fines. Possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana is allowed under Colorado law for most people, while medical marijuana patients can possess up to 2 ounces.
- Possession with intent to sell — The penalties for drug possession with intent to sell in Colorado vary widely depending on the drug in question, the amount of the drug, whether you have any prior convictions for drug offenses, and other factors. You could be charged with a Level 1 felony at the high end and face 8 to 32 years in prison, along with up to $1 million in fines. At the low end, you could be charged with a misdemeanor and face up to 18 months incarceration and a fine of up to $5,000.
- Drug manufacturing and cultivation — Under Colorado’s marijuana legalization laws, an individual can grow up to six plants for personal use. However, growing more than six plants or manufacturing or cultivating other drugs can result in severe penalties. Depending on the drug and the amount in question, you could be charged with anything from a Level 1 drug felony (8 to 32 years in prison, up to $1 million in fines) or a misdemeanor (as much as 18 months in jail, up to $5,000 in fines).
- Drug distribution — In Colorado, the same law governs possession with intent to sell, drug manufacturing, and drug distribution offenses. The penalties for distributing drugs that are not marijuana run anywhere from a misdemeanor (maximum of 18 months in jail, up to $5,000 in fines) to a Level 1 drug felony (anywhere from 8 to 32 years in prison, up to $1 million in fines), depending on the amount and type of drug.
- Drug trafficking — Trafficking generally refers to transporting illegal drugs, while distribution refers to selling them. The same Colorado law that governs possession with intent to sell and drug distribution also sets the penalties for drug trafficking. At the high end, you could face 8 to 32 years in prison and up to $1 million in fines. If you crossed state lines while trafficking drugs, you could also face federal drug charges, which carry additional penalties.
- Driving under the influence of drugs — Driving under the influence of drugs in Colorado is usually a misdemeanor unless you have three or more prior DUI convictions in Colorado or any other state. There are also two different kinds of DUI offenses. A standard DUI is when drugs make you “substantially incapable” of safely handling a vehicle. A DWAI (driving while ability impaired) refers to cases where someone’s ability to drive is impaired “to the slightest degree” after using drugs. Of the two, DUI is the more serious offense. Potential penalties for a misdemeanor DUI or DWAI include up to 1 year in jail, $1,500 in fines, having your driver’s license suspended for two years, mandatory community service, and having to enroll in drug education classes.
What Are the Sentences for Drug Felonies and Misdemeanors in Colorado?
Under Colorado law, sentencing for drug felonies and misdemeanors is as follows:
- Drug Felony 1, presumptive range 8* to 32 years in the Department of Corrections
- Drug Felony 2, presumptive range 4 to 8 years in the Department of Corrections
- Drug Felony 3, presumptive range 2 to 4 years in the Department of Corrections
- Drug Felony 4, presumptive range 6 months to 1 year in the Department of Corrections
- Drug Misdemeanor 1, presumptive range 6 to 18 months jail time
- Drug Misdemeanor 2, presumptive range no jail to 12 months in jail
If you are apprehended with a controlled substance in Colorado, you could be facing life-changing penalties. Your charges and penalties will depend on the drugs involved and the amount of drugs in your possession. In addition to incarceration and fines, you will also be left with a criminal record that can haunt you for many years to come.
Let the Colorado Springs drug crime attorneys at Patterson Weaver Law, LLC gather the facts on your behalf and build a strong defense against the charges.
* A Level 1 Drug Felony conviction requires a mandatory 8-year sentence to DOC.
What Are the Different Drug Schedules?
Under the Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”) of 1970, the manufacture, importation, possession, use, and distribution of certain narcotics, stimulants, depressants, hallucinogens, anabolic steroids, and other chemicals are classified into five distinct categories, called “Schedules.” Schedule I is the most dangerous, and Schedule V the least.
- Schedule I — These are drugs with substantial potential for abuse and no putative medical use and are considered unsafe for any treatment. Examples of illegal Schedule I drugs include PCP, LSD, heroin, and mescaline.
- Schedule II — These drugs have great potential for abuse. Some have medical value but can result in severe physical and psychological addiction if abused. Examples of Schedule II drugs include oxycodone, morphine, methadone, and opium.
- Schedule III — These drugs have a much lower potential for abuse compared to Schedule I and II drugs. They also have accepted medical use, with the possibility of high psychological dependence and low to moderate physical dependence. Examples include anabolic steroids, barbiturates, and ketamine.
- Schedule IV — These are drugs with a lower abuse potential compared to Schedule III drugs. They also have accepted medical use and can lead to some physical and psychological dependence. Prescription anti-anxiety medications like diazepam and sleep medications are a few examples.
- Schedule V — Drugs in this category are the least dangerous. These have a low chance of abuse, and limited psychological and physical dependence. These medications have accepted medical use. Some examples include over-the-counter cough syrup and cold medications with trace amounts of codeine.
A drug’s placement in a particular “Schedule” is based upon several factors, including:
- The actual or relative potential for abuse
- Scientific evidence of its pharmacological effect, if known
- The state of current scientific knowledge regarding the drug or other substance
- Its history and current pattern of abuse
- The scope, duration, and significance of abuse
- What, if any, risk there is to the public health
- Its psychic or physiological dependence liability
- Whether the substance is an immediate precursor of another controlled substance
Protecting Your Rights After a Drug Arrest
An arrest on any type of drug charge should be taken seriously. Anything you say or do during or after the arrest can hurt your defense. Here are some tips for protecting your rights:
- Don’t say ANYTHING to police or prosecutors. They’ll be looking for inconsistencies in your story or other evidence that could make your case. Stay silent and let your lawyer do the talking.
- Don’t try to hide or dispose of evidence. If you’re caught, this will make things worse and could lead to additional charges.
- Don’t assume you’re going to be convicted. With the right Colorado Springs drug crime attorney, you could have your charges reduced or dismissed.
- Don’t plead guilty. A plea deal may be advisable later on, but wait until you’ve hired a lawyer to develop a defense strategy for your case.
- Hire a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. There will be many opportunities for an experienced criminal defense lawyer to argue to points of your case. The sooner you have representation, the better.
Options for Colorado Residents with Drug Possession Convictions
Colorado now allows individuals convicted of possessing controlled substances in the past to complete their sentence term and then request to have their felony drug convictions converted to misdemeanor convictions. This change helps people with previous drug possession charges avoid the stigma and long-lasting effects of a felony drug conviction.
Drug Crime FAQs
The term “drug possession” refers to the physical control you have over a particular controlled substance. There are three forms of possession:
- Actual Possession – The drugs are in your hand.
- Constructive Possession – You have control of the drugs, such as unprescribed Oxycodone pills in the glove compartment of your car.
- Joint Possession – You and your roommate keep drugs in a safe to which you both have access.
The possession and use of marijuana, be it medical or recreational, is now legal in about half of the states, including Colorado. Despite the growing acceptance of marijuana on the state level, its possession and use remains illegal on the federal level. Charges can carry extreme penalties for those convicted, such as extended incarceration.
Although marijuana possession is allowed in various states, there are still limitations such as a minimum age to possess, a limit to how much you can possess at any one time, and where it can be used. It is also important to remember that even though medical and recreational marijuana are legal in Colorado, it is not legal everywhere in the state. Marijuana possession is still considered illegal on federally owned property such as airports, post offices, National Parks, etc.
While drunk driving checkpoints are a fairly common police tactic, and courts have ruled they are generally legal (within certain limits), drug checkpoints are different. Strictly speaking, police can’t set up drug checkpoints like they can to check for drunk drivers, as the Supreme Court has ruled that blanket drug checkpoints are unconstitutional.
Police will often use a tactic known as a “ruse checkpoint,” where they post signs saying there’s a checkpoint ahead, then look to see if a driver swerves, makes an illegal U-turn, or does something else suspicious that may indicate they’re carrying drugs. If you’re stopped at a drug checkpoint, don’t say anything and call a lawyer right away.
Yes, you can pick up a controlled substance for someone else. A pharmacist may use professional judgment and experience with common practice to make reasonable inferences of the patient’s best interest in allowing a person, other than the patient, to pick up a prescription.
For example, the fact that a relative or friend arrives at a pharmacy and asks to pick up a specific prescription for an individual effectively verifies that he or she is involved in the individual’s care, and the HIPAA Privacy Rule allows the pharmacist to give the filled prescription to the relative or friend. The individual does not need to provide the pharmacist with the names of such persons in advance.
Contact an Experienced Colorado Springs Criminal Defense Attorney Today
At Patterson Weaver Law, LLC, we have extensive experience and long track record of positive outcomes when dealing with drug charges in Colorado Springs and the surrounding areas. Our attorneys are here to represent your best interests from the day you hire us. We can help you navigate the intricate path of Colorado’s drug laws and help determine your best way forward.
Contact us today for a free case review.