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Do first-time offenders have to go to jail for drug charges?

On Behalf of | Jan 23, 2023 | Drug Charges |

The government takes a harsh stance on drug crimes. When the police catch someone with controlled substances, the penalties can alter the course of a person’s life.

Whether an individual goes to jail for drug charges depends on the details of the case and how the trial proceeds.

Beating charges

Prosecutors must prove that a defendant knew about the substance and was in intentional possession. In other words, if someone stashed drugs in a family member or neighbor’s car and the vehicle owner was unaware of it, that person did not violate the law. The prosecutors may dismiss the case, or the judge can find it in the defendant’s favor.

At other times, an officer may violate an individual’s constitutional rights by performing an illegal search and seizure. The police must have an apparent reason to stop a person and cannot search someone merely for looking suspicious.

In some cases, prosecutors may not have sufficient evidence to determine what the alleged substance is. The lack of evidence may allow a defendant to go free.

Negotiating a pretrial diversion

The prosecutor’s office has the option to drop possession charges in various instances. One possibility for first-time offenders is entering a pretrial diversion. This option is open for defendants without any violent felonies or misdemeanor charges. Extensive negotiations may be necessary to cut this kind of deal.

This program allows a person to attend classes, take treatments, undergo testing and possibly enroll in counseling. After completing the program, the prosecution can dismiss the case.

People who do not beat drug charges or have the prosecutor drop them face a wide range of sentences, including jail time and steep fines. Diligent efforts to fight accusations can prevent months or decades of incarceration.