Changes to Drug Laws That Defendants Should Be Aware Of

Wooden judge gavel with question mark from drugs on table

Even though Colorado has legalized marijuana, it is still possible to face various drug charges under the law. Fortunately for many defendants, changes to the law in June of 2013 mean more defendants than ever will be given a second chance. The basic premise behind the changes to the law is to allow those who are arrested and facing felony charges the opportunity to face misdemeanor charges instead, which would give defendants a better chance at rehabilitation. While the law was passed with bipartisan support, it is not without its detractors.

What the Changes Mean for Defendants

Drug charges are classified as either a felony offense or a misdemeanor offense. Prior to the new law, many drugs were classified as class three or class four felonies. The new classifications mean felony charges have four felony classes and two misdemeanor classes. The classes and penalties generally are:

DM1 – DM1 (Drug Misdemeanor 1) is a misdemeanor offense that may be used for cultivation if the party has six or fewer plants, or is distributing a schedule V controlled substance. The maximum possible sentence under this classification could result in a sentence of 18 months in prison and a fine of $5,000.00. DM2 – Any person who is found using an unlawful substance could face misdemeanor charges under this section. In these instances, the sentencing guidelines provide for a minimum of a $50.00 fine and a maximum fine of $750.00, as well as a maximum possible sentence of 12 months in prison. Felony charges – The felony charges are broken into four classes. Depending on the court’s findings, the charges may be reduced to a misdemeanor after completion of community service, a drug program, and/or any other requirements as set forth by the court. A guilty finding will result in serious penalties; a minimum of six months in prison, a fine of up to $100,000.00, and one years’ probation is the least serious felony penalty possible.

Reduced Sentences Are of Little Relief

If you’re facing any type of drug charges, even with the lesser sentences, it’s important to seek immediate help from an experienced criminal defense attorney. The most serious felony charges, for example being arrested with 12 grams of Methamphetamine in your possession, could mean you are facing up to 32 years in prison. A felony charge of this kind would also be applied if you are arrested with a minor two years your junior, and are found distributing to a minor a schedule I or II controlled substance.

Drug charges of any kind should not be taken lightly, and should never be fought alone. Even with the reduced sentencing and the potential to have felony charges reduced, it is important to have someone on your side that knows the current laws, and is protecting your rights.

You need to speak with a criminal defense attorney immediately after being arrested and should be cautious about any information you provide to law enforcement. As with any other arrest, the most innocent of comments can be used against you in criminal proceedings. Law enforcement is interested in making an arrest stick, so even a seemingly innocent question could have long-lasting implications.

The Law Office of Kevin Cahill is dedicated to protecting the rights of our clients, and ensuring the best possible outcome for any felony or misdemeanor drug charges they may face. If you’re facing any type of drug charge, contact Attorney Kevin Cahill by filling out our convenient online form, or calling (720) 548-2990 to schedule your free initial consultation; we can help protect your freedom and potentially avoid a life-long criminal record.

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