Federal Drug Possession

207-571-8146

Experienced Federal Drug Possession Defense Lawyers You can Trust

Serving the Areas of Bangor, Saco, Biddeford, Portland and Augusta, Maine

America is a great country. A country made up of different nationalities and ethnicities as well as 50 unique states. Therefore, regardless of where you live, there are two sets of laws that you must abide by: state law, and the laws of the United States, also known as the federal government.

Unlike state laws, which only apply within the confines of the specific state, federal laws apply to everyone in the United States, equally. However, because the federal Government has a lot more to take care of than each individual state, there are fewer federal laws, and they are more concerned with “big picture” problems. As a result, federal laws typically cover extremely serious, wide-ranging offenses, leaving state laws to deal with localized issues. A such, federal laws have some pretty serious penalties, so facing federal charges is a serious situation. Oftentimes, a state charge that might carry a few months as a likely punishment, could result in a decade or more of hard prison time for the equivalent federal offense.

When it comes to sentencing and punishment recommendations, the federal government is often behind the times. One of the ways that they live in the past is when it comes to drugs. The federal government still thinks that drug possession is enough of a “big picture” problem to warrant having tough federal laws, with draconian sentences, to wage its “War on Drugs.” This results in small time drug addicts and petty dealers getting massively disproportionate sentences.

Here are a few details on federal drug possession laws.

Controlled Substances

Like the state of Maine, the federal government categorizes regulated drugs, which it calls “controlled substances,” into a list of “Schedules.” While Maine's drug laws have four Schedules, federal drug laws have five:

Schedule I is for drugs that have a high potential for abuse, and no currently accepted medical use in the U.S. These include many types of opiates and their derivatives, as well as several hallucinogens. Included in Schedule I drugs are heroin, codeine, morphine, and marijuana.

Schedule II is composed of drugs that also have a high potential for abuse, which can lead to severe psychological or physical dependence on the drug. However, there are accepted uses of the drug for medical treatment. Schedule II includes many types of opiates, and methamphetamine.

Schedule III drugs have a moderate potential for abuse, which can lead to high psychological dependence, or moderate physical dependence, on the drug, but which also have accepted the medical value. Here, you'll find stimulants, depressants, anabolic steroids, and narcotics.

Schedule IV lists drugs that have a low abuse potential, and abuse only leads to a limited dependence on the drug. These drugs also currently have a medically accepted use in the U.S. This includes drugs such as barbital, ethinamate, and paraldehyde.

Finally, Schedule V drugs have a very low potential for abuse, have a medically-sound use in the U.S., and abuse only leads to a limited dependence on the drug. This includes low amounts of several types of drugs, such as codeine or opium.

For a full listing of the drugs included in the federal drug Schedules, see this page.

Possession of Controlled Substances

According to federal drug laws, you can be charged for possessing a controlled substance if you know you are in possession of an illegal drug or intend to be in possession of an illegal drug. While this might seem somewhat straightforward, criminal defense lawyers, like William T. Bly, have argued all of the minute details involved in these laws until they've all come to light.

In the case of federal drug possession laws, the federal government must prove that you “knowingly or intentionally” possessed a controlled substance, in order to obtain a conviction. This is the law's “culpable state of mind” requirement. To be convicted of federal drug possession charges, you need to have known that the drugs were illegal, and you that you had control over the drugs, and also intended to have control over the drugs.

Additionally, the act of “possessing” drugs has a lot of nuance to it, as well. Under federal drug possession laws, you “possess” drugs if you have actual or “constructive” control over the contraband. “Actual control” is when you have a current, physical ability to manipulate the object. “Constructive control” is when you don't have a current ability to manipulate the object, but could easily get it.

A good example of what it looks like to “knowingly” and “intentionally” “possess” drugs is if you pick up the wrong luggage at the baggage claim in an airport. Unbeknownst to you, there are several bags of heroin in the luggage. When you pick up the luggage, you still think that it's yours, and so neither “knowingly” nor “intentionally” possess drugs. However, you do “possess” them, because you have a current ability to reach into the luggage, and touch them. You still have “possession” of the drugs when you put the luggage in the trunk of a taxi – only now, it's “constructive possession.” When you get home and find the drugs, you now “knowingly” possess them. However, you don't “intentionally” possess them until you decide to keep them.

Bear in mind that federal drug possession charges can turn into drug trafficking charges, depending on the circumstances of the case.

Penalties for Drug Possession

Generally, a conviction for federal drug possession depends on the number of times you have been convicted for drug possession – whether under federal law, or under state law – in the past as well as the quantity of the drugs you were charged with:

Offense Number

Fine

Jail Time

First

Minimum $1,000

Up to 1 year

Second

Minimum $2,500

Between 15 days and 2 years

Third

Minimum $5,000

Between 90 days and 3 years

However, federal drug possession laws single out crack cocaine for heightened penalties. While this piece of the law has long been controversial, it still hasn't been completely resolved. As a result, you could face between 5 and 20 years in federal prison, and a fine of at least $1,000, if:

  • It's your first conviction for federal drug possession, and you had more than 5 grams of crack cocaine,
  • It's your second conviction for federal drug possession for crack cocaine, and you had more than 3 grams of crack cocaine, or
  • It's your third conviction for federal drug possession for crack cocaine, and you had more than 1 gram of crack cocaine.

According to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, federal drug possession charges come with a huge range of offense levels - and, therefore, a huge range of fines and jail time - depending on the drug possessed, and its amount. For more details on the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, see this blog post.

Contact a Maine Federal Drug Possession Charges Lawer

Federal drug possession charges are no small concern. They can be life-changing – even more so than state drug charges. Having a criminal defense attorney on your side can mean the difference between a life-altering conviction, and an acquittal that can let you return back to your normal life. Call the law office of criminal defense attorney William T. Bly at (207) 571-8146.

WTB Law

Here at WTB Law, we provide professional and aggressive criminal defense representation that exceeds the expectations of our clients and secures their freedom and their future.

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What distinguishes our firm from the numerous law firms throughout the state is that we genuinely care about the well-being of our clients. Because Attorney Bly is a sole practitioner, every client receives hands-on and personalized attention from Attorney Bly and our staff throughout the entirety of their case.

50 Adams Street
Biddeford, ME 04005
(207) 571-8146
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