Have you been arrested for a drug crime in St. George or Cedar City, Utah?
If so, it is in your best interest to know what the drug possession laws are and how they pertain to your case. At the Park Law Firm, we have successfully defended numerous clients who have been arrested on drug charges.
If you are pulled over in your vehicle and a controlled substance is found by an arresting officer, you will be charged with possession even if the drugs don’t belong to you. Drug penalties can be harsh, especially ones which result in the loss of a drivers license. You don’t even have to be in the vehicle at the time of your arrest and you can still lose your license under certain circumstances. In fact, drug penalties can be even more stringent than those for a first time DUI.
Not all drugs are alike. A drug schedule exists to help law enforcement differentiate between the types of drugs. They include the following:
- Schedule I – drugs with no legal medical use such as heroin, LSD, ecstasy, peyote and
- Schedule II – drugs with a high potential for abuse including Oxycontin, fentanyl, Adderall,
Ritalin, methamphetamine, methadone and Dilaudid.
- Schedule III – drugs with a moderate to low potential risk for abuse such as Tylenol with
codeine, anabolic steroids, ketamine and testosterone.
Drug Possession Laws in Utah
Drug possession of a Schedule I or II substance or marijuana is generally considered a class A misdemeanor on the first two offenses. Arrests after that bump it up to a 3rd degree felony in Utah. Such crimes carry a punishment of up to 5 years in prison and $5,000 in fines. These penalties are increased under the following circumstances:
- Possessing more than 100 pounds of marijuana which elevates the crime to a 2nd degree felony
- Prior convictions for distributing or manufacturing drugs
- Possession of drugs in jail
It is a federal crime to be caught using drugs on property owned by the federal government such as national parks. Even if you have a medical marijuana prescription from another state, using drugs on federal property can result in charges being levied against you in Federal Court.
Utah Drug Court
Drug Courts are specialized institutions presided over by a District Court Judge. Often thought of as “second chance” proceedings, drug defendants can keep their records clean if they adhere to specific orders. Defendants must qualify to get their cases moved into Drug Court. Some of the orders include the following:
- Random drug testing
- Strict supervision
- Drug counseling and therapy
- Random searches
Drug Court has proven to be a successful method for certain offenders to escape drug charges reflecting on their records. However, the rules in Drug Court are strict, so failure to comply can result in the defendant’s case being sent back to regular Court.