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Understanding Your Drug Crime Charges in Missouri
Drug crimes are the most commonly charged criminal offenses in St. Louis. For example, suppose you are under arrest for possession of certain illicit substances or driving under the influence of drugs.
In that case, you face substantial penalties that can negatively impact your life for many years to come. In this situation, you need a defense attorney you can trust to help you navigate your case with confidence immediately.
Contact our experienced St. Louis drug defense attorneys online or by calling (314) 413-2053 to get started on your case with Miller & Hine today.
Providing Defense Representation to Clients in St. Louis Facing Drug Charges
At Miller & Hine, our drug crime lawyers leverage their knowledge, skills, and experience in criminal defense to do whatever is needed to defend your rights in the criminal justice system.
Drug Crime Cases We Handle
Our St. Louis lawyers represent clients in both state and federal courts accused of drug charges, including:
- Possession of a Controlled Substance
- Drug Paraphernalia
- Possession w/ Intent to Distribute
- Drug Manufacturing
What Are the Penalties for Drug Crimes in St. Louis, MO?
Many drug-related crimes carry extremely harsh jail sentences and fines.
If you are ever convicted of a drug crime, that conviction will stay on your record for the rest of your life and could affect your ability to:
- Get a job
- Get a loan
- Or even an apartment
It’s possible to face multiple drug charges in St. Louis, depending on the nature of your drug crimes. Some of the most generally prosecuted drug crimes in St. Louis include simple possession for personal consumption, possession with intent to sell, and drug trafficking.
How Is the Severity of Drug Crimes Determined?
The severity of the penalties you face and whether it is a misdemeanor or federal charges hinges on:
- The type of drugs involved in the case
- The number of drugs in question
- And the actuality of any aggravating or mitigating factors
For this reason, any time you’re facing charges or have been arrested for drug offenses, it’s important that you take the time to consult with a St. Louis drug crime lawyer who can help you to better understand the charges you are facing, your constitutional rights, and your legal options.
Missouri Controlled Substances
Lately, Missouri drug laws have been in a constant state of change due to the partial decriminalization of marijuana and ongoing decriminalization efforts. Nevertheless, the state has some of the most stringent drug laws in the country.
Missouri’s list of controlled substances groups drugs into schedules based on their potential for abuse, addictiveness, and medical uses. This classification system is used in Missouri courts to ascertain the severity of your offense and the penalties you will face if you are convicted.
Schedule I drugs have no accepted medical use in the USA, are unsafe even under medical supervision, and hold a high potential for abuse. This includes drugs like Heroin, Ecstasy, LSD, MDMA, and even Marijuana.
Schedule II drugs are narcotics, stimulants, or others. They have a high potential for abuse, psychological or physical dependence, and often contain opioids. This includes drugs that may have some valid medical uses such as Cocaine, Fentanyl, Vicodin, Methamphetamine, and Oxycodone.
Schedule III drugs are either narcotics or non-narcotics that have less potential for abuse than Schedule I or II drugs, with mild to moderate physical dependence, but high psychological dependence. These drugs typically have accepted medical uses, including weight loss drugs, anabolic steroids, stimulants, and antidepressants.
Schedule IV drugs have a lower rate of abuse than Schedule I-III and limited potential for addiction. They include sedatives or sleeping pills such as Xanax, Valium, Tramadol, and prescription cough medicines.
Schedule V drugs have a low potential for abuse, contain scant amounts of stimulants, and are typically used to treat coughs, diarrhea, or pain. Examples include Robitussin AC, Lyrica, and Motofen.
How Do You Beat Drug Possession Charges in St. Louis?
As mentioned above, the sentence you will face if convicted of a drug crime in Missouri can be harsh, even for a first-offender. In addition, the conviction will go on your criminal record and make it difficult for you to get a job, find housing, or obtain certain public funds, including welfare benefits and student loans.
To convict you of a drug crime, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were knowingly in possession of illegal drugs. But there are ways for you and your criminal defense attorney to make it difficult for the state to do that.
There are four typical ways that you and your attorney can challenge and attack the state’s case against you:
1. Challenge the Identity of the Alleged Offender
In all criminal prosecutions, the state must prove the identity of the alleged offender. This is no different for drug charges. In other words, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were the person who was in possession of the drugs in question.
This challenge can be made when there are other people involved in the case that you can potentially blame, for instance, other passengers in the car where the drugs were found or other guests at the party where the drugs were located by the police. Any reasonable doubt about the identity of the person in possession of the drugs when they were found, will lead to a not guilty verdict from the jury.
2. Challenge Possession
Another thing your defense lawyer will consider is whether the state has sufficient evidence of possession. In the legal sense, possession is not as easy as it sounds.
There are basically two kinds of possession in a drug case:
- Actual possession
- Constructive possession
Actual possession is the obvious one. This means that a person had actual physical possession of a drug, e.g., in their hand, their pocket, etc.
On the other hand, while a person may not have actual physical possession of a drug, they might have knowledge of and control of where the drugs are located, along with both the power and intention of physically possessing the drug at some future point in time. In this case, the person can be said to have constructive possession of the drug.
In a drug case, both actual possession and constructive possession are equal in the eyes of the law. However, if there is any reasonable doubt about whether or not you had actual or constructive possession of the drugs, a not-guilty verdict will follow.
A typical scenario where this challenge might be effective is when drugs were found in your roommate’s bedroom or maybe in a friend’s car. If the state cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you had access to the bedroom or access to the vehicle, they will have a tough time proving to a jury that you were the one in possession of the drugs.
3. Challenge Knowledge
Another way to challenge the state’s case against you is to question whether it can prove that you knew you were in possession of the drugs. To convict you, the state must not only prove that you were in possession of the drugs but that you were knowingly in possession of the drugs.
For example, let us say you let your roommate borrow your car to go shopping. After returning home with your car, and without you knowing, your roommate left a bag of cocaine in your glove compartment. The following day, you are driving the car to work and get pulled over for speeding. After the police pull you over, you permit them to search your vehicle and they find the cocaine in your glove compartment and arrest you for cocaine possession.
In this case, the state would likely argue that you are guilty because you had constructive possession of the drug in your glove compartment. However, the fact that you didn’t know about the drugs and that is a legitimate defense against the allegations in this situation.
4. Fourth Amendment Violations
Lastly, even if the state can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were knowingly in possession of the drugs, if those drugs were found and seized in violation of your Fourth Amendment rights, that evidence will not be admissible in court. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution guarantees you the right to be free of unreasonable search and seizure. The police must have probable cause or a valid warrant to search you without your consent. Any evidence seized in violation of the Fourth Amendment may be deemed inadmissible, leading to the charges against you being dismissed for lack of evidence.
A drug charge can be beaten, and working with an experienced drug crime lawyer will give you the best chance. If you are charged with a drug crime in St. Louis, your freedom and future are at stake, so make sure to hire the right lawyer to help you fight the charge and win.
At Miller & Hine our goal, in any drug case, is to achieve several things: first and most obvious, we want to keep you out of custody, preventing jail or prison time. Our second goal is to avoid a conviction going on your record, particularly any felony conviction.
Long Term Answers
Many drug-related crimes are committed because the individual is an addict. If you are tired of struggling with drug addiction we can help you receive long term treatment. We can work out a sentence that involves treatment to help protect your criminal record and guarantee you a long life. Most of the time you can take advantage of State programs that are almost entirely paid for.
How Missouri Drug Crime Attorneys Can Help
Your drug crimes lawyer at Miller & Hine will help you determine the best strategy for your defense. In any criminal case, the responsibility of proof rests with the prosecution. We represent clients from the initial arraignment and will proceed to trial when it is in the best interests of the client.
Depending on the circumstances of your situation, a St. Louis drug defense lawyer from our firm may be able to help you obtain a favorable plea deal, help you prove your innocence, or even get the charges against you dropped completely.
At Miller & Hine, we are dedicated to provide the best possible defense to our clients, no matter what the charges may be. The key is to act quickly, so call us today for a free consultation.