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Understanding the basic classifications of drug charges


Washington State has a reputation across the country for being relatively soft on drug crimes. In reality, a relatively liberal stance on marijuana does not translate into lesser penalties for other types of drug offenses. In Washington as well as in neighboring Idaho, a resident can be charged with a wide variety of drug-related charges, both related to marijuana as well as to other substances including prescription drugs.

The array of various drug charges can be confusing, especially if one has just been charged with a crime. What differentiates a drug possession charge from accusations of drug dealing to a charge of possession of drug paraphernalia? A criminal defense attorney can answer these questions and relate the assorted penalties that go along with such charges. More importantly, a criminal defense lawyer can offer invaluable legal advice following an arrest.

Drug possession charges often hinge on the type of substance involved as well as the amount of the drug. A person is often charged with either simple possession or possession with the intent to distribute the illicit substance. Typically, a person found to have a larger amount of a drug can be charged with intent to distribute. Many people charged with drug possession are also charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. The term "paraphernalia" refers to devices, such as bongs or pipes, usually used to inject, ingest, prepare or produce drugs.

Drug dealing often involves allegations of dealing illegal substances on a small scale, while drug trafficking or drug distribution refers to more large-scale operations. A conviction on drug trafficking or distribution charges may involve a harsh prison sentence. A person can also be charged with manufacturing an illegal substance; this type of charge can also culminate in time behind bars for a convicted offender.

Facing a drug charge is never easy, but facing drug charges alone is even more difficult. However, getting arrested does not mean a person's life is over. Calling a criminal defense attorney can prove immensely valuable if one is charged with possession, manufacturing or any other related drug charge.

Source: FindLaw, "Types of Drug Crimes," accessed Jan. 23, 2017

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