DC Drug Offenses

When someone is charged with a drug offense in federal court, they should expect to receive prison time. Anyone being prosecuted for a felony drug offense in federal court is almost assured, albeit certain factors, they will spend time in prison if convicted.

In DC, those convicted of a drug offense can serve substantial incarceration time depending on the facts of their case and their personal criminal background. DC drug offenses have serious ramifications. Someone involved in a drug case needs to be aware that there are serious consequences and would benefit from an experienced attorney who is able to build their defense for them.

Common Drug Offenses

In the Superior Court of the DC, the equivalent of a state court in other jurisdictions, simple possession of drugs is a commonly seen charge. While possession of marijuana of up to two ounces is not a crime, more than two ounces is prosecuted as a misdemeanor. Personal possession of other drugs, such as cocaine or heroin, is also considered misdemeanors in DC, with an exception of possession of liquid PCP, which is always a felony.

The most common drug offense in DC are simple possession or possession with the intent to distribute. In the latter case, an individual is caught with a quantity of a drug and the government alleges that their intent was to sell or distribute that drug to others. While the law is not as harsh as in other jurisdictions, nearly all distribution charges in which someone is alleged to have been selling or trafficking illegal drugs are going to be considered felonies. There is an exception for the distribution of marijuana up to one-half pound, which is a misdemeanor offense.

Often, undercover officers are involved in investigations where they pose as a drug buyer. They make a hand-to-hand purchase of narcotics or other drugs off the street and then the individual is arrested for drug distribution at the Superior Court level. In DC, usually only drug cases involving a large quantity of drugs, where the charge is possession with intent to distribute, end up in federal court. More frequently, DC drug cases with numerous defendants engaged in a conspiracy to traffic narcotics are heard in federal court.

Potential Penalties

For simple possession of a regulated drug or an illegal drug, one should expect to face misdemeanor charges. However, many times the government seeks to prove that the individual possessed those drugs with the intent to distribute them. Even with a small quantity of drugs that are packaged separately and with other indicators of intent to sell or distribute, the government may file and proceed with felony charges for the possession with intent to distribute. Any individual arrested for possession of drugs should realize that perhaps the government may view it as a situation where that individual intended to distribute the drugs. Distribution does not necessarily have to be a for-cash situation, which is a common misconception.

There is always the possibility of the elevation of charges to the felony level. If someone is facing felony charges, they face the possibility of years of serious time incarcerated goes up depending on the individual’s criminal history. Any individual who is arrested with drug offenses in DC needs to be mindful that they face potentially harsh consequences.