Seek Help from a Highly-Experienced Denver Drug Crimes Attorney
Facing a drug charge in Denver is a serious matter. Even though Colorado relaxed some of its laws regarding possession of small amounts of marijuana, the state still has very tough drug laws. Violating Colorado’s drug laws could lead to prison, fines, probation, drug treatment, and many other consequences. The best move you could make to help limit your exposure to these harsh penalties is to speak with an experienced Denver drug crimes lawyer.
For almost 25 years as a drug crimes lawyer, my team with Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C. and I have helped hundreds of our clients beat drug charges or face reduced drug charges, such as drug trafficking, drug possession, possession of drug paraphernalia. From my work in Colorado drug court starting in the mid-1990s, I know that drug charges do not often reflect the reality people just like you must confront on the street. You can count on me to use the knowledge and experience I have gained to help you avoid the severe consequences of a drug conviction in Denver.
Colorado Drug Schedules
The Colorado drug schedules categorize controlled substances according to their potency, their addictive qualities, and whether the controlled substances have any medicinal value.
Schedule I controlled substances include drugs like heroin, LSD, and Ecstacy. Schedule II drugs include cocaine, opium, fentanyl, methadone, oxycodone (Percocet), and codeine. Schedule III controlled substances include prescription medicines like Vicodin and Suboxone. Schedule IV drugs are also prescription medications but are less potent than Schedule III drugs such as Xanax and valium. Schedule V drugs involve controlled substances such as Robitussin with codeine.
Penalties for Common Drug Offenses in Denver
The penalty you face for a drug charge depends on the severity of the charge and your prior criminal history. Even if you have no prior record, you could go to jail for a drug charge. Therefore, contacting a Denver drug charges attorney right away is imperative to preserving your freedom.
Possessing a Controlled Substance
Possessing any controlled substance in Colorado is a crime. Possession of under four grams of a Schedule I or II narcotic, or possession of any amount of a controlled substance found in schedules III, IV, or V is a level 1 drug misdemeanor. Possession of a controlled substance having three previous convictions makes the fourth charge a level four drug felony. Also, possessing four grams or more of a controlled substance is a level four drug felony.
Unlawful use of a controlled substance, except marijuana, is a level 2 drug misdemeanor under Colorado law.
Drug Felonies in Colorado
Drug felonies involve possessing narcotics with the intent to distribute them to another person. Possession with intent also encompasses possessing narcotics with the intent to manufacture, sell, or dispense. Additionally, drug felonies in Colorado include manufacturing, selling, and dispensing any narcotic. You should recognize that drug felonies in Colorado refer to distributing illicit drugs as well as prescription medication. Colorado law categorizes the severity of the drug felony based upon the weight of the drugs.
A level 1 drug felony involves possessing with the intent to distribute either 225 grams or more of any schedule I narcotic, 112 grams of heroin, ketamine, methamphetamine, or 50 milligrams of flunitrazepam. Selling more than 25 pounds of marijuana unlawfully is also a level 1 drug felony. Colorado law establishes a range of incarceration from eight to 32 years, along with three years of supervised release for a level 1 drug felony.
A person is guilty of a level 2 drug felony for possessing with the intent to distribute between 14 and 225 grams of schedule I or II drugs, between seven and 112 grams of heroin, ketamine, methamphetamine, or between 10 and 50 milligrams of flunitrazepam. Possessing between two and one-half to 25 pounds of marijuana is also a level 2 drug felony. The minimum sentence is four years and the maximum is eight years with two years of parole supervision.
Authorities can charge you with a level 3 drug felony for possessing with the intent to distribute 14 or fewer grams of a schedule I or II controlled substance, less than seven grams of heroin, ketamine, methamphetamine, less than 10 milligrams of flunitrazepam, or more than four grams of a schedule III or IV drug. The maximum sentence is four years and the minimum is two years. A judge must give you one year of parole supervision as well.
A level 4 drug felony includes possessing with the intent to distribute less than four grams of a schedule III or IV controlled substance or distributing a controlled substance and consuming it at substantially the same time. The maximum incarceration period is one year but no less than six months with one year of parole supervision.
Presumptive or Aggravated Sentences
The ranges of sentences referenced above are the presumptive sentences. A judge can deviate from the presumptive sentences established by Colorado law except for level 1 drug felonies. However, a judge could impose a sentence based on aggravating factors instead of following the presumptive sentences.
Aggravating circumstances can increase the minimum time you must serve. Some aggravating circumstances include:
- Being on parole for another felony at the same time;
- On probation for a felony, or being out on bond while awaiting sentencing on a felony probation violation;
- Being out on bond while appealing a prior felony conviction; or
- Having charges as a juvenile would result in a felony conviction if an adult were charged with the same crime.
A sentencing judge may consider any other relevant factor when determining if a sentencing enhancement applies.
Marijuana in Colorado
Marijuana often appears as a schedule I drug. Therefore, the purchase, sale, and consumption of marijuana remain highly regulated in Colorado. Colorado law prohibits an adult from possessing greater than one ounce of marijuana as well as distributing marijuana to a person under 21. Moreover, Colorado law prohibits the consumption of marijuana in public places.
Colorado law permits growing marijuana plants inside your home. You may not have any more than three flowering plants at any one time. Additionally, one adult can have as many as six plants. However, the city of Denver passed an ordinance limiting the total number of marijuana plants to 12 no matter how many adults live in the home. Finally, only licensed distributors can legally sell marijuana.
Unlawfully growing marijuana plants in Colorado could result in a drug felony conviction depending on the number of plants or if the cultivation is outside of the home. Having between 12 and 30 plants could land you in prison for up to two years. However, growing 30 or more could result in a prison term between two and four years. Furthermore, it’s important to note that cultivating and trafficking marijuana remains a federal offense.
Facing Drug Charges Can Have Life-Changing Consequences
Anyone facing any crime must fully understand the consequences a conviction could have on their life. A knowledgeable and skilled Denver drug crimes attorney will explain all of the charges you have and tell you the range of penalties you face if the charges lead to a conviction. This is a tough conversation to have, but it is necessary. You have to have this talk with your legal practitioner or you may not understand or fully appreciate the consequences of the decisions you make in your case.
It is also important to understand that a conviction for a drug charge could hurt you in other ways. You could lose your job, your apartment, your driver’s license, and your immigration status if you lose your case. So, not only could you lose your precious freedom, you could lose your way of life too.
Finding a job is hard to do with a felony conviction on your record. Also, you might lose the right to vote for a time. Moreover, people could be hesitant to rent a home to you or give you a mortgage. Additionally, you could face career difficulties if you have a professional license in Colorado. You will most likely have to report this conviction to your board of registration. Your board of registration may suspend your license to work in your chosen profession.
Colorado will also revoke your license to carry or possess a firearm after a drug conviction as well.
Be Aware of Possible Immigration Consequences
You should be aware that a conviction for a drug offense could lead to deportation, denial of admission to the United States, or denial of naturalization rights under U.S. law. Pleading guilty or receiving a jury verdict of guilty on a felony drug charge will make it virtually certain you cannot re-enter or remain in the country lawfully. Additionally, you cannot become a citizen of the United States if you have a felony drug conviction.
Having a Highly-Skilled Denver Drug Crimes Lawyer Can Make the Difference for You and Your Family
As a highly qualified Denver drug crimes attorney, I understand what is at stake for you and your family. When you seek my advice, I offer you my full support and attention. I will work closely with you to develop a strong defense that reduces the chances you could serve prison time for drug charges, such as drug trafficking, drug possession, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Together, we can attack your charges from multiple angles to either win a dismissal or acquittal or negotiate a reduced sentence.