What Happens After You Are Charged with a Felony Drug Crime

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    Drug charge convictions have considerable consequences, from monetary fines to prison time, as well as a number of repercussions in daily life. For some drug charges classified as misdemeanors, these are relatively minor, but felony charges are a far more serious matter. If you are facing felony drug charges, you need to understand the legal and personal implications of the charges, so you can start building the right defense. Here is a closer look at what to expect with felony drug charges.

     

    Felony Versus Misdemeanor Drug Charges

     

    When you face drug charges, there are two different types. Misdemeanor drug charges are less serious, resulting in small fines, probation, or a short jail sentence. Felony drug charges are more serious charges. Typically, drug charges become felonies when the individual is charged with:

     

    • Drug possession over a certain amount
    • Possession with the intent to distribute
    • Possession or distribution within a restricted area, like a school
    • Drug trafficking.

     

    Individuals being faced with these charges need to understand the legal implications and potential consequences of felony crimes.

     

    Potential Legal Penalties of Felony Drug Charges

     

    The consequences of felony drug charges will depend on the severity of the charge and the individual's past record. However, if the charges stick, these almost always result in long prison terms, with 10 to 20 years being common. Longer prison terms are possible for certain crimes. In addition, the fines connected to felony drug charges are quite high, often hundreds of thousands of dollars. Felony drug charges also go on the individual's permanent record. If the individual is an immigrant or is working on immigration, felony drug trafficking offenses can lead to deportation and make the individual ineligible for citizenship.

     

    In addition to the fines and jail time, felony penalties may remove the individual's right to get state-issued certifications. For example, in many states educators cannot receive or renew their certificates to teach if they have certain felonies on their record. Foster or adoptive family applications may be denied on the basis of felony drug charges. Felony charges may prevent the individual from getting state benefits, such as temporary assistance for needy families or food stamps, until the sentence is complete. This, in turn, can hurt the family of the person facing the charges, as they may rely on those services and funds.

     

    Factors that Increase Penalties

     

    Certain factors in a drug case can cause the penalties to increase. For example, a repeat offender will have stronger penalties than someone caught for the first time. Someone caught selling drugs to a child or within a school zone is considered to have “aggravating factors,” which increases the harshness of the penalties.

     

    Additional Implications of Felony Drug Charges

     

    The penalties imposed by the courts are just the first level of problems faced by those with felony drug charges. Once a felony is on someone’s record, it can make future opportunities more difficult. For instance, some colleges will deny entry to people with felonies on their records. Employers can refuse to hire individuals with a criminal record. Even housing can be more difficult to find, as landlords are less willing to rent to someone with a criminal history. The social implications are also strong, as the individual's reputation is tarnished.

     

    Getting the Right Help

     

    Because of the implications and penalties connected to felony drug charges, working with a criminal defense lawyer is always wise in these cases. Finding someone who can assist with the charges and the court process can help those facing charges get reduced penalties or even have the charges dropped altogether. Because of the far-reaching and costly consequences of these charges, legal help is a critical protection.