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What are the possible outcomes for drug possession?

If you are arrested on drug charges, you will no doubt hear a wide range of “helpful advice” from people. Everyone has a story about a brother or cousin or friend who got busted.

But there is a lot of misinformation out there. The outcome depends on many factors – the facts of the case, the judge, the prosecutor … and your legal representation. Here are some of the ways it could shake out.

How drug charges might be resolved

Drug cases are fact-specific. Two of the most important factors are the type of drug and the amount. Marijuana is typically a misdemeanor. Schedule I substances like heroin or prescription opiates are usually charged as felonies. At a certain amount, the charges escalate to possession with intent to distribute even if there is no other evidence of drug dealing.

But let’s say it’s a simple possession charge for cocaine, another Schedule I controlled substance.

The jurisdiction (state or federal) also has a bearing on the possible outcomes. The process is different in federal court, from rules of evidence to mandatory minimum sentences if convicted.

If you ever face drug charges …

The sooner you consult an attorney, the better. The attorney can intervene proactively and determine the best approach to your case. By waiting to see what happens or making statements to police, you may hurt your case or take options off the table.