Connecticut Narcotics Possession Lawyer
Possession Of Narcotics / Intent To Sell
Connecticut criminal charges for Possession of Narcotics, Hallucinogens and other drugs are extremely serious. The penalties are stiff and heavy-handed: mandatory minimum jail sentences, tens of thousands of dollars in fines, and even life sentences. This almost zero tolerance attitude of law enforcement and the court system for narcotics and drugs has caused grave concern among top Greenwich and Stamford drug possession lawyers and attorneys. What the best Stamford and Greenwich drug lawyers who regularly defend narcotics and drug cases will do is work with their clients to craft an aggressive defense to get your charges dismissed or reduced. Many drug defendants are users who have lost control of their addiction and are not in the business for pure profit; rather, they are trying to fund and feed a deadly addiction. Therefore if you are charged with Possession of Narcotics or Possession with Intent to Sell (“PWITS”) in Stamford, Greenwich, Norwalk, New Canaan, Fairfield, Westport, Wilton, Darien or Weston, you should contact a top Stamford criminal attorney right away to understand the charges against you and learn about your rights and options.
Possession of Narcotics, Hallucinogens & Other Illegal Drugs and Substances
There is a big difference in Connecticut criminal law between being charged with straight possession of narcotics or hallucinogens, or possession with intent to sell (PWITS). To be charged with straight possession of narcotics in Connecticut under C.G.S. § 21a-279 (click here for the full text of the statute), you need to be caught or suspected of possessing or controlling any quantity of any narcotic substance. These substances include (1) any non-prescribed controlled substances like oxycontin, vicodin or adderall, (2) recreational drugs like cocaine, crack, heroin, methadone and Molly, or (3) hallucinogens like mushrooms, acid, and LSD. Marijuana is excluded from this crime.
A first offense for a Possession of Narcotics charge under C.G.S. § 21-279 is a felony and is punishable by up to 5 years in jail (10 years for a second offense), probation, plus fines ranging between $2000 and $5000. Even worse, if you are caught simply possessing and not selling narcotics within 1500 feet of an elementary or high school (public or private), licensed day care center, or public housing project, then additional mandatory time is tacked on which cannot be suspended or reduced by a prosecutor or judge. While the penalties are stiff, there are an array of defenses available to a person accused of drug and narcotics possession in Connecticut, addiction being a key and critical defense. So if you are charged with Narcotics Possession under § 21a-279, it is strongly recommend to consult with a top Connecticut criminal lawyer to learn how you can aggressively defend yourself against these charges.
Possession of Narcotics With Intent to Sell Charges
Unfortunately for people battling drug addiction, Connecticut lawmakers dialed up the penalties for people who are caught selling drugs. This is called Possession With Intent to Sell (“PWITS”). To the surprise of many of our clients, you can actually be charged with PWITS in Connecticut even if you are not actually caught in the act of selling drugs but are discovered with large amounts of drugs in your possession or control. That’s right—you don’t even have to be selling drugs to be charged with Possession with Intent to Sell. Connecticut law assumes and infers just from the amount in your possession that you are a drug dealer. Additionally, if you have baggies, packaging materials or containers that suggest you are distributing (such as plastic baggies with any form of graphic logos on them), then the police can charge you with PWITS. This crime is codified in C.G.S. § 21a-277 (click here for the statute) and forbids anyone from manufacturing, distributing, selling, prescribing, and transporting narcotics, controlled substances, and hallucinogens. Again, this crime does not include marijuana.
The penalties under 21a-277(a) for felony possession of narcotics and hallucinogens with intent to sell in Connecticut are severe—up to 15 years in jail and $50,000 fine for a first offense; 30 years in jail and $100,000 for a second conviction, and additional 30 year terms and $250,000 fines for additional convictions. The penalties under 21a-277(b) for felony possession of intent to sell any other narcotics are slightly less harsh, calling for up to 7 years in jail and $25,000 for a first offense, and a maximum 15 years prison and $100,000 fine for subsequent convictions.
One of the legal statutory loopholes in this particular statute which is helpful to top Stamford criminal attorneys is the fact that this particular drug statute does not call for mandatory minimum jail sentences. Top drug lawyers in Fairfield County will often argue for felony drug charges to be reduced to 21a-277(a) and 21a-277(b) so that their drug clients can avoid jail time. One of the more popular methods of achieving this result is illustrating to the Court and prosecution that any drug selling was done primarily as a product of an addiction issue rather than a business enterprise. Therefore if you are facing serious drug charges in Stamford, Greenwich or elsewhere in Connecticut, you should be as open and honest with your criminal attorney as possible about your drug use and any rehabilitation efforts you engaged in prior to your arrest. These efforts, plus any treatment you commit to in earnest during the time your Connecticut drug and narcotics possession and sale charges are pending, will most certainly help you in your case.
Connecticut Drug and Narcotics Possession and Sale by a Non-Drug-Dependent Person
On the flipside of the leniency the law allows for drug defendants battling addiction, there are separate penalties for people convicted of PWITS who are not drug-dependent at the time of the alleged drug charges. In other words, if you plead guilty to being a drug dealer and you cannot convince the judge or prosecutor that you have a drug addiction problem, then the punishment is much stiffer under C.G.S. § 21a-278 (click here for the statute). For example, if you are convicted of possession with intent to sell cocaine, heroine, methadone or acid in large amounts, you can receive an entire life sentence, and of that sentence, 5 to 20 years can be ordered mandatory. For possession with intent to sell hallucinogens and amphetamine-type substances for non-drug-dependent people, the punishment can be between 5 and 20 years. Thus, as the best Stamford criminal lawyers will affirm, proving a history of drug use and addiction to a court in connection with any Connecticut narcotics or drug dealing charges can be critical to any defense strategy.
Connecticut Possession with Intent to Sell Near a School, Day Care Center or Housing Project
And as if the drug laws were not tough enough, a separate section of the Connecticut drug laws imposes additional penalties if you are a Non-Drug-Dependent person convicted of Possession With Intent to Sell Narcotics within 1500 feet of a public or private elementary or high school, licensed day care center, or public housing project. In these cases, C.G.S. § 21a-278a (click here for the statute) requires the court to add an additional 3 years of mandatory jail time on to any other sentence the court imposes. This means that these 3 years must be served consecutive (as opposed to concurrent) to the underlying drug conviction sentence—all the more reason to consult with a top Greenwich or Stamford drug possession attorney if you are charged with drug crimes under C.G.S. §§ 21a-278a or 21a-277.
Risk of Concurrent and Simultaneous Federal Drug Charges
One looming issue in any serious drug case that is prosecuted in any Connecticut state court is whether federal charges will be brought against a defendant as well. The United States Attorney’s Office in Connecticut, with the assistance of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (the “DEA”) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) can unilaterally exercise jurisdiction over most state drug cases and commence a prosecution in federal court, where the penalties and mandatory minimum jail sentences are even tougher than those penalties under the Connecticut state drug laws described above. The feds do not take over cases often but when large amounts of drugs (especially cocaine, crack, heroine, and oxycontin) are involved, coupled with allegations of interstate sales and distribution, and large amounts of money being pocketed by drug dealers, you should be very concerned that a federal investigation and subsequent prosecution will ensue. And in very rare circumstances, even if the feds take over your case, the state prosecution could still go forward. The bottom line is that if your felony drug case is serious (as most are), you should discuss the risks of a federal prosecution with your top narcotics and drug possession attorneys handling your case in the Stamford, Norwalk Bridgeport, Milford or Danbury courts.
Is Marijuana Legal in Connecticut? Almost. Simple Possession of Less Than Half-Ounce Marijuana
One bright spot of mercy and leniency in the otherwise rigid Connecticut drug law scheme is the State’s recent decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana. It is no longer a misdemeanor crime to possess less than one-half ounce of marijuana. While decriminalized, simple possession of marijuana under C.G.S. § 21a-279a (click here for the statute) is now only an “infraction” in Connecticut, punishable by a $150 fine for the first offense, and up to $500 for a second or subsequent offense.
Here’s the tricky part with this new marijuana law, however. If you are caught by police with possessing less than one-half ounce of marijuana, a police officer will write you a ticket for the infraction. You will not get arrested. Nor will you get booked, fingerprinted nor photographed. In fact, the ticket will look like a run-of-the-mill speeding ticket or parking ticket, leading an average person to believe that you just pay it and mail in the fine. No big deal right? Not quite. Pleading guilty to simple marijuana possession in Connecticut under C.G.S. § 21a-279a can have long-lasting consequences, even though it is no longer crime. The guilty plea to your marijuana infraction is actually registered in your permanent driving record with the DMV and can come up in background checks for employment, housing and government screenings. Sure, society is getting more liberal in their attitudes on marijuana, but keep in mind that not everyone shares these sentiments, especially uptight employers and landlords. Additionally, if you are under 21 and you plead guilty to this Connecticut marijuana possession infraction ticket, the Connecticut DMV suspends your license for 60 days, causing you to incur more fees for license restoration and exposing your DMV record and insurance premiums to more scrutiny.
With all of these various issues hanging over a simple marijuana possession charge, it is a good idea to consult with a top Stamford marijuana possession lawyer to determine whether you should fight your marijuana infraction ticket under C.G.S. § 21a-279a. While it may be easier to just pay the fine, the long-term consequences of having the infraction on your permanent record should give you just cause and pause for concern. Finally, for an even more in-depth discussion of the legalization of marijuana in Connecticut, click here for Mark Sherman Law’s latest blog entry on this issue.
Fighting Drug Charges in Stamford, Greenwich and Norwalk
Fighting drug and narcotics possession charges, as well as possession with intent to sell charges in the Stamford, Norwalk, Bridgeport, Danbury or Milford criminal courts requires careful consideration of many important and technical legal issues. The Stamford-based drugs and narcotics possession attorneys at Mark Sherman Law have defended some of the biggest state drug cases in Connecticut and are well-versed in designing a thorough and aggressive defense for your possession / possession with intent to sell drug case. First, we carefully scrutinize the police reports, the search warrants and the evidence involved in your case to get a full grasp of the strengths and weaknesses of your drug case. Behind the scenes, we analyze the warrants and reports for errors and omissions, and look to see if law enforcement violated your constitutional rights by conducting any unconstitutional searches and seizures. If so, we will file motions to suppress evidence as well as motions asking the Court to turn over any additional exculpatory materials. If necessary, we will enlist the services of forensic experts and toxicologists to challenge the lab reports. We will then take the data and results of our internal efforts and advocate aggressively for you in court, during both the pre-trial stages of your case and also at trial. Remember, we are focused on only thing: results. To that end, the Mark Sherman Law criminal lawyers will work closely with you and your family to craft the best defense strategy for your case.
Getting your Connecticut Drug Charges Dismissed with Court Diversionary Programs: The Drug Education Program, the Community Service Labor Program & CADAC
One additional consideration for you to consider in a serious Connecticut drug case is whether your case is eligible for a drug diversionary program. If applied for and granted by the Court, these programs can trigger the suspension of your drug case’s prosecution, and if you complete all of the program’s requirements (i.e. drug education classes and community service), then your charges will be dismissed in their entirety. The two most commonly granted programs are the Drug Education Program (the “DEP”) and the Community Service Labor Program (the “CSLP”). Only certain narcotics and drug possession charges are eligible for the DEP and CSLP. There is also a much more intense diversionary program called CADAC which can help an accused drug user or seller in very limited scenarios where the Defendant can prove he was suffering from a severe case of drug addiction at the time of the arrest. Therefore if you are interested in the DEP, CSLP, or CADAC in connection with your Connecticut narcotics or PWITS charges, you should contact a Mark Sherman Law drug possession attorney to discuss your options and which program could help you in your case.
A Never-ending Story – Cooperating with Narcotics Police in Exchange for Leniency
One frequent question we get from our drug and narcotics possession clients is whether they should cooperate with the police and assist law enforcement in drug stings in exchange for some kind of leniency in their own case. This issue usually pops up almost immediately after police catch a suspect with drugs or narcotics. Police seize the drugs but do not arrest these individuals, who are now terrified of all of the felony drug charges they could be hit with (just look directly above in this article to see all the possible penalties). Police and narcotics detectives can make a very persuasive case at this point, especially pre-arrest and before the suspect has had a chance to talk to a top Stamford narcotics and drug lawyer. The suspect is vulnerable and scared, and may do almost anything for even the prospect of leniency. Should you cooperate? Should you assist police in a dangerous drug sting? Do you want to be a confidential informant? What happens if you don’t cooperate? Will it really be “easier on you” if you help the police? These are very tough questions that should be discussed in your criminal lawyer’s office. Before even considering cooperating, you need to understand exactly what is being asked of you, how you will be protected, and what you will get in exchange. We’ve heard of cooperation agreements getting dragged out for months and sometimes years, with suspects never seeing the finish line and moving on with their lives. You should therefore never agree to cooperate with police until you have an opportunity to talk to your attorney. Chances are it is not a good idea and you should let an experienced criminal attorney at Mark Sherman Law explain why.
Contact a Connecticut Drug and Narcotics Lawyer at Mark Sherman Law Today
As you can see, Connecticut drug crimes are extremely serious. The penalties are extremely severe. The laws are very extensive, technical and intricate. And the State of Connecticut appears to be as relentless as ever in their war against drug dealers in Connecticut. Yet what these laws and prosecutions often fail to appreciate are that many Possession with Intent to Sell prosecutions are not about financial profit—rather, many of these cases are about good people falling victim to an addiction. So whether you are accused of straight Narcotics Possession, of whether you have been charged with being a profitable Connecticut drug dealer and are charged with Possession With Intent to Sell, you should immediately call one of the experienced criminal lawyers at Mark Sherman Law. Remember, do not talk to the police about your drug case—talk to an attorney. We routinely handle felony and misdemeanor drug and narcotics possession cases in Stamford, Greenwich, Darien, New Canaan, Fairfield, Westport, Norwalk, Bridgeport and any other Connecticut courthouse. We will work with you to tailor the most cost-efficient and cost-effective strategy to get you the best result we possibly can.