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DC Drug Penalties

The charges for a drug offense in Washington, D.C. can vary from relatively minor to severe. However, a conviction for any criminal offense may result in immediate losses, such as fines and jail time, as well as damage to a person’s professional, personal, and financial livelihood.

Navigating the legal system alone to try to build a defense may be intimidating and overwhelming. Instead, if you were charged with an illicit substance offense, consider reaching out to a hard-working attorney to discuss DC drug penalties to discuss your legal options and how to best proceed.

DC Drug Laws

It is important for anyone facing drug-related charges to understand the difference between the statute related to drug offenses and the DC Voluntary Sentencing Guidelines, which are used to determine the specific sentence for a drug offense. For example, the law regarding possession of an illicit or controlled substance is often treated as a misdemeanor, while a felony drug offense with a weapon present has a mandatory minimum of five years in jail.

Along with these general charges, the DC Voluntary Sentencing Guidelines then determines how a specific incident will be charged. For example, an individual may receive up to 180 days in jail, as well as a $1,000 fine for a repeat offense, while a first-time offender for misdemeanor possession would not usually receive jail time unless violence or a weapon was involved. Therefore, they may even have an opportunity to have their conviction erased from their record.

Essentially, the severity of potential penalties between a first-time offense and repeat offenses becomes more serious, as laid out in the sentencing guidelines. Because of these nuances, it is important for a defendant to understand the specific charges they face and how those charges are considered in both DC law, as well as the Voluntary Sentencing Guidelines.

The Level of Penalties

As mentioned above, when someone is found guilty of a drug-related charge, the penalties depend largely on numerous factors. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Prior criminal record
  • Amount of the drug
  • Type of drug
  • Presence of a weapon
  • Use of violence
  • Amount of money involved
  • The presence of a weapon or other form of violence

All of these factors are addressed under the DC Voluntary Sentencing Guidelines, which will impact a person’s specific sentence. However, these sentencing guidelines are voluntary, which means a judge does not have to follow them verbatim. If they do not, however, they must provide a reason why for why they deviated.

Alternative Penalties for a First-Time DC Drug Charge

Diversion programs or alternative sentencing may be available to first-time drug offenders. For example, drug court allows a person to go into a sanction-based treatment program to help them recover. However, if a defendant is granted this avenue but subsequently misses a meeting or a drug test—or they fail a drug test—there would be a penalty. If they successfully complete the program, however, their misdemeanor charge may be dismissed, or a felony charge may be reduced to a misdemeanor.

How an Attorney Might Help with DC Drug Penalties

If you were charged with a drug-related offense, you may be overwhelmed and wondering what your legal options are. Instead of trying to build a defense alone, however, it may prove helpful to speak with a seasoned and knowledgeable attorney about DC drug penalties and how to best proceed.

A dedicated lawyer could help to gather extensive information about your history and thoroughly investigate the nature and circumstances of the charges you face. Then, using this information, they could make a presentation to a judge to try to get the best possible sentence under the circumstances. To discuss legal rights and circumstances, call a legal professional today.

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