The types of drug related cases I commonly handle are simple possession or possession of drugs for personal use. Oftentimes, people possess drugs only for personal use, but end up being criminally charged with something more severe. I refer to these charges as legal traps; someone intends to use their drugs solely for personal use, but some circumstance or something they say to police causes them to be charged more severely. Most commonly, the more severe charge is possession with intent to distribute. This can result from a variety of situations, such as a person carrying drugs in two separate bags, making a statement about sharing the drugs with a friend, or having a scale among their possessions. Any one of these scenarios can result in an officer automatically charging a person with possession with intent to distribute. As a result, the person is going to be looking at a felony charge for what otherwise would have been a misdemeanor charge.
Another charge that I consider to be a legal trap is possession within 1,000 feet of a school or a park. For example, if a person is pulled over on a traffic stop at a location that happens to be within 1,000 feet of a school or a park, and a small amount of marijuana is found in their car, the resulting charge would be a felony. If that same person had been stopped at a location more than 1,000 feet from a school or park, and was carrying the same amount of marijuana, the resulting charge would likely be a simple misdemeanor.
Similarly, if a person is found to have marijuana in their car- or even in their garage or shed- and they also have a child under 12 years of age in the vicinity of that marijuana, the resulting charge would be felony possession in the presence of a minor under 12 years of age.
What Are The Schedules Of Controlled Substances Under Oklahoma Law?
Most of the Oklahoma drug crimes are found in Oklahoma’s Uniformed Controlled Dangerous Substances Act. This is often referred to as Title 63, because that’s where the act is located within the Oklahoma statute. Currently, drug crimes and their penalties are based on the drug schedules, which are lists of different drugs that are sorted based on several different factors. Some of those factors include their potential for abuse, history or patterns of abuse, and the severity of the addiction or risk to public health. All of the factors that go into determining where a drug will fall on which schedule are laid out in section 2-201 of Title 63. The schedules themselves can be found in sections 2-202 through 2-212 and are primarily used for determining the severity of penalties.
It is important to note that starting July 1st of 2017, personal possession or personal use of schedule 1 and 2 controlled substances are charged only as misdemeanors. As the law stands now, schedule 1 and 2 drugs are considered felonies, with the exception of marijuana. Moving forward, the focus will be on addressing addiction and drug problems. However, even after these crimes are bumped down to misdemeanors, they will still have serious and lasting effects on people’s lives- carrying penalties of up to one year in county jail, as well as fines of up to $1,000.
A lot of law enforcement agencies and district attorney offices aren’t happy about this law passage, and my concern is that their opinions will affect what they are willing to negotiate on these misdemeanors. In the past, a first time misdemeanor offense would result in probation. However, since there may be some anger about the new law, I speculate that negotiations might be more severe- resulting in jail time instead of probation.
How Are Possession Of Methamphetamine Charges Treated In Oklahoma?
In terms of the range for sentencing, possession of methamphetamine is treated the same as any other schedule I or schedule II drug, with one notable difference: the requirement to register with the methamphetamine registry. The methamphetamine registry is essentially a large database listing the names of people who cannot purchase products containing pseudoephedrine, or any related products. The requirement applies to anyone who is convicted, pleads guilty, pleads no contest, is on probation, or is on a deferred sentence for possession of methamphetamine. A person will be placed on this registry for 10 years from the most recent date of the sentence.
Failure to register as required for a first offense could result in being charged with a misdemeanor crime, which carries up to one year in county jail and up to $1,000 in fines. If you are charged with a second failure to register, you are looking at a felony charge, which carries up to two years in the Department of Corrections and up to $2,500 in fines. So while initial sentences aren’t any different for possession of methamphetamine, there are definitely some other hoops that you have to jump through if you are charged.
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