According to the Missouri Courts website, in Fiscal Year 2020, there were 116,421 statewide charges filed involving drug and alcohol offenses, resulting in 41,127 guilty outcomes, whether by admission or by court or jury decision.
That’s a lot of people who had to pay fines, go to jail, be put on probation or otherwise penalized, and who now have a criminal record to carry with them as they go forward in life.
If you’ve been charged with drug possession in or around Kansas City, Missouri, or really anywhere in the state, you need to obtain the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney who will fight for your rights and help you develop a solid defense strategy.
Contact The Alsobrook Law Firm immediately. I am a former prosecutor who knows the justice system from both sides of the bar. I will vigorously represent you and strive for the best possible outcome.
Like the U.S. government, Missouri classifies drugs by their danger – and lack of medical value – and lists them by what it calls Schedules. Schedule I, the highest rung in both the federal and state classifications, lists marijuana along with heroin and LSD.
Schedules II through V include everyday painkillers and prescription medicines. You can be charged with drug possession even for prescribed medicines such as Ambien (a sleep aid) and Xanax and Valium (anxiety reducers). Even prescription cold medicines (which can be used to produce methamphetamine) are listed.
In other words, mere possession of a scheduled substance can lead to federal or state charges, or sometimes both. Federal drug enforcement, however, generally focuses on interstate trafficking and distribution and big-time operations, not the individual possessor or user unless that person is also a dealer or money launderer.
Charges for drug possession can range from a Class D felony to a variety of misdemeanor charges. Possession of any controlled substance other than marijuana is a Class D felony, punishable by up to 7 years in prison.
Though Missouri has legalized marijuana for medical use, you can still be charged with a drug crime for knowingly possessing it. Misdemeanor charges for marijuana possession depend upon the quantity being possessed:
Class D Misdemeanor: Possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana, punishable by a fine of up to $500
Class A Misdemeanor: Possession of more than 10 grams but less than 35 grams, or possession of less than 10 grams with a prior drug conviction, punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of no more than $2,000.
Possession of more than 35 grams of marijuana rises to the level of a Class D felony with serious prison time possible.
A conviction, even by admission of guilt, can have consequences far beyond jail time or a fine. The conviction will go on your criminal record, which could make it hard for you to obtain employment, get a professional license, or qualify for public assistance. A felony conviction can result in a loss of voting and gun possession rights.
If you’re charged with a first-time drug offense, you may be eligible for a diversion program or to have your case handled in a drug treatment court.
Generally, you would be required to plead guilty and then undergo a drug treatment program. Once the program is successfully completed and you’ve met your probation requirements, the court at its discretion may dismiss your charges and clear your criminal record. However, if you fail to complete the program, you can be sentenced immediately under terms of the class of crime that you’ve been charged with.
The prosecutors may charge you with multiple crimes just to increase your fear and anxiety and get you to cop a guilty plea. That’s one among many reasons you need the experience, knowledge, and resources of a criminal defense attorney.
Don’t agree to anything or make any statements without first conferring with an attorney. Remember the saying, read to you in your Miranda Rights: “Anything you say can and will be used against you.”
There are legitimate defenses, starting with challenging the probable cause for arresting you in the first place. You also have to “knowingly” possess the drugs. Perhaps your vehicle passenger had the drugs on their person without your knowledge. You may even be the victim of witness misidentification, which happens more than prosecutors would like to admit.
Also, prosecutors may fail to inform you of your right to a diversion program if it's a first-time offense.
At some point, you may be offered the services of a public defender at no cost to you. “Free” sounds great, but remember, a public defender – no matter how well trained or well-intentioned – is generally overworked with a huge caseload. Their first response is often to seek a plea bargain rather than fight for an acquittal.
I’ve argued cases for both sides – prosecution and defense – and I know what to expect in the courtroom. With me on your side, we can challenge evidence and testimony and fight vigorously to obtain the best possible outcome. Also, if you’re a first-time offender, we can pursue the drug treatment court option, which will enable you to clear your record.
A drug possession charge carries not only penalties, but if it becomes a conviction, it’s something you’ll have to carry with you the rest of your life. If you’re charged with drug possession in or around Kansas City, Missouri – or really anywhere in Missouri or Kansas, where I’m also licensed – contact me immediately at The Alsobrook Law Firm for a free consultation.