Civil vs. Criminal Law: Where Drug Crimes Fall on the Spectrum

Civil vs. Criminal Law: Where Drug Crimes Fall on the Spectrum

Finding yourself facing a drug charge in court is a concerning experience, especially if you don’t understand the severity of the charge.

Civil vs. Criminal Law: Where Drug Crimes Fall on the Spectrum

To that end, it’s important to learn everything there is to know about drug crimes, including the common types and the severity of punishments associated with the crimes. 

What is a Drug Crime?

Drug crimes are relatively broad but, as outlined by the U.S. Department of Justice, a drug crime is any crime in which a person uses, possesses, manufactures, or distributes drugs that are illegal and classified as having a potential for abuse. However, a person may also face a drug crime if a crime that occurred was due to drugs being related to it. For example, if drugs altered a person’s behavior and led them to commit a crime or some other legal activity, it could be grounds for a drug charge as well. 

Are Drug Crimes Civil or Criminal Offenses?

In most cases, a drug crime is a criminal offense that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the severity of the crime. There are certain circumstances in which a drug crime may be charged as a civil offense, such as someone under the age of 21 using marijuana in certain states. As mentioned, though, most drug crimes are charged as criminal offenses at either the state or federal level.

5 Common Types of Drug Crimes

Understanding the severity of the charge you are facing in court starts with understanding the different types of drug crimes that a person could face. Below are the five most common types of drug charges to be aware of:

1. Possession of drug paraphernalia

The possession of drug paraphernalia simply means being in possession of something that could reasonably be used to store drugs, transport drugs, consume drugs, or something similar. A bong, pipe, or even a small baggy that is typically seen with controlled substances could count as drug paraphernalia if found, even if no drugs are present. 

2. Possession of a controlled substance

Generally serving as a felony level offense, possession of a controlled substance refers to being in possessions of a drug regulated by the government. All this means is that you need to have a prescription in order to have that drug on your person. Controlled substances can be broadly defined as any drug held without a prescription, but common examples in drug crimes include cocaine, heroin, marijuana, meth, and more.

3. Possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute

Building off of the prior point, a slightly more serious drug charge is possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. In most drug crimes, this felony level charge occurs when a person is caught attempting to sell controlled substances to another person. However, a little-known fact is that simply having a certain amount of a substance, which varies depending on what it is, is enough to receive this charge.  

Finding yourself facing a drug charge in court is a concerning experience, especially if you don’t understand the severity of the charge.

4. The illegal manufacture of a controlled substance

As the name implies, another serious drug charge that will certainly require the help of a criminal defense lawyer specializing in drug crimes is manufacturing drugs. Any controlled substance that a person does not have the authority to manufacture can result in this charge. The severity of the charge often depends on how much of the drug a person manufacturing was, as this will likely determine whether or not an intent to distribute charge is also filed. 

5. Drug trafficking 

Finally, drug trafficking is the most serious drug crime on this list and is often tried at the federal level, meaning that the punishment is extremely severe. The difference between possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute and drug trafficking simply comes down to the amount a person has on them when caught. Punishments for drug trafficking can range from fines in the multi-thousands of dollars to serious jail time. 

Build a legal defense for your case

Rather than trying to defend yourself in court, take the time to build out your legal defense by contacting an accredited defense attorney. It’s entirely possible that you are innocent of the charge you are facing, and you simply need professional assistance with getting those charges dropped. At the very least, a lawyer can help a person contest their charges just enough so that they get reduced in their severity. Don’t settle for accepting life changing repercussions when a lawyer can help you win your case today. 

Wojciech Kuźma

Hey there! My name is Wojtek and I am very happy that you came to my travel blog. I've been traveling the world for a few good years now and I still want more.

On my website I describe the adventures that have happened to me, you will also find here a collection of valuable tips for tourists and travelers. If you liked this article, be sure to leave a comment and read some more!

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