Greenwood Village, a small suburb of Denver, is a quiet, charming town. Still, it has its problems: just like any other city in Colorado and America, the town sees its fair share of crime, including drug-related crimes.
If you have been accused of a drug crime in Greenwood Village, you can expect to be treated harshly by law enforcement and prosecutors. Why is this?
Since the beginning of the War on Drugs in the early 1970s, public policy on drug use has been unnecessarily harsh. The hysteria surrounding drug use has led to strict laws that serve to punish, rather than rehabilitate, drug users. These laws include mandatory minimum sentence laws, which have made relatively minor drug crimes an offense that can earn years of serious prison time. (In California, voters only just recently voted to repeal the three-strike law—which resulted in many repeat drug offenders receiving life sentences.)
Every year, thousands of Americans are jailed in mass numbers on drug-related crimes, often for simply possessing small amounts of a drug. In 2012, 1.55 million people were arrested on nonviolent drug charges. The number of people arrested for a marijuana-related crime was nearly 750,000, with the vast majority arrested on possession charges. That same year, more than 2 million Americans were currently in federal, state, and local prisons—the highest incarceration rate in the world. Of that 2 million, 1 in 5 were imprisoned on drug charges.
The U.S. has spent more than $1 trillion on the War on Drugs, yet it has been a spectacular failure: the rate of drug use has remained about the same over the past twenty years. Instead of getting rid of drugs, the War on Drugs has only resulted in mass casualties.
Being convicted of a drug crime has serious consequences. A criminal conviction can come with a sentence of years of prison time, thousands of dollars in fines, probation, and other penalties. The penalties of conviction may vary depending on a variety of factors, including the following:
- Quantity of the drug
- Intent to sell or distribute
- Evidence of sale
- Weapons possession or use
- Possessing large amounts of money
- Classification under the drug schedule
- Purpose of the possession (personal use or for sale)
If you have been accused of possessing a large amount of drugs, drugs with the intent to sell them, or a weapon, your charges will be more serious and the punishments more severe. In addition, if certain hard drugs are involved, the consequences can increase. For example, possessing any amount of cocaine in Colorado is a felony.
Even marijuana users aren’t safe from the law. Though Colorado residents voted to legalize marijuana in 2012, the drug is still heavily regulated. Colorado residents may only possess up to 1 ounce for personal use, and they are allowed to give away up to 1 ounce. No one may consume marijuana in a public place. Residents may also grow up to 6 plants for their personal use.
Like other “hard” drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine, the penalties for a marijuana-related drug crime increase with the quantity, purpose, and intent to sell. While personal possession of one ounce is completely legal, and possession of 1 to 2 ounces may only result in a $100 fine, consider the penalties for the crimes below:
- Possession of 6-12 ounces: Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine
- Possession of 6-12 ounces: Felony, punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a $100,000 fine
- Sale or distribution of 5 lb. or less: Felony, punishable by between 1 and 3 years in prison and a $100,000 fine
- Sale or distribution of 5-100 lb.: Felony, punishable by between 2 and 6 years in prison and a $500,000 fine
- Sale or distribution of more than 100 lb.: Felony, punishable by between 4 and 12 years in prison and a $75,000 fine
- Cultivation of between 6 and 30 plants: Felony, punishable by between 2 and 6 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
If law enforcement accuses you of carrying more than 8 ounces, you can expect them to charge you with intent to distribute. Or if you were accused of selling marijuana to a minor, the charges carry an extra 4-year mandatory sentence.
In addition to the immediate penalties, a conviction of a drug charge can have far-reaching effects in your life. People who have a conviction on their record may find themselves unable to get credit, a job, or even housing.
With the legalization of marijuana for personal use, Colorado has moved in the right direction. Still, the country has a long way to go until we start treating drug use as a health problem rather than a criminal one.
Until then, it’s critical to treat your drug charges seriously. Whether you are facing a misdemeanor or a felony, it helps to have an experienced drug crime defense lawyer on your side. A skilled lawyer can help you protect your rights, fight your charges, and get the best possible outcome in your case.
At the Law Office of Andres R. Guevara, we are committed to helping people like you. Our attorneys practice only criminal law, and we have successfully represented many people accused of a drug-related crime. This means we have the knowledge and skill to help you. As a former prosecutor, Andres R. Guevara understands how the prosecution builds a case against you and will use this knowledge to your benefit.
Our firm understands that being accused of a drug crime can be scary and overwhelming. We know that you may be worried about what happens next and how a conviction may affect your future. That’s why we’re here to listen to your concerns, answer your questions, and meet your goals—whatever they are.
Don’t wait to fight your charges and protect your future. Call us today for a free, confidential consultation with a Greenwood Village, CO drug crime defense lawyer.