Oklahoma is continually plagued by high rates of substance abuse, and in an effort to change the state’s reputation for drug abuse, legislators have created drug laws in which even relatively minor offenses are punished harshly. Though marijuana possession and possession of Schedule III, IV, and V drugs for personal use is a misdemeanor on the first offense, most drug crimes, including a second or subsequent offense of marijuana possession for personal use, are charged as felonies that carry significant prison time upon conviction.
However, even possession of marijuana may be charged as a felony on the first offense if prosecutors determine that possession was not for personal use but for sale. Possession with intent to distribute, or possession for sale, is determined not by a defendant’s actual intent to sell, but by certain factors that may seem to indicated drug distribution or sale. For example, the quantity of drug in possession; the presence of scales, paraphernalia, and packing materials; and the discovery of cash or weapons may provide probable cause for a charge of drug possession for sale, even if the suspect did not actually intend to sell or distribute the drugs he or she is accused of possessing.
Those caught selling drugs illegally or without authorization are charged with a serious criminal offense with penalties that could include life in prison, even for a first offense. Because many drug crimes are subject to minimum sentencing guidelines, the potential for negotiation and plea arrangements may be limited.
Because of the stringent penalties associated with drug conviction, it is critical to find experienced legal counsel from an attorney with a demonstrated record of drug defense success. At Phillips & Associates, we have provided winning outcomes for hundreds of defendants in state and federal courtrooms. Many of our cases are dismissed before ever going to trial, and for those that do go to trial, we aggressively pursue an acquittal or minimal sentencing options.
Oklahoma Drug Distribution Law
Title 63 O.S. § 2-401 defines drug distribution offenses:
A. Except as authorized by the Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Act, it shall be unlawful for any person:
1. To distribute, dispense, transport with intent to distribute or dispense, possess with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, a controlled dangerous substance or to solicit the use of or use the services of a person less than eighteen (18) years of age to cultivate, distribute or dispense a controlled dangerous substance;
2. To create, distribute, transport with intent to distribute or dispense, or possess with intent to distribute, a counterfeit controlled dangerous substance; or
3. To distribute any imitation controlled substance as defined by Section 2-101 of this title, except when authorized by the Food and Drug Administration of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
If police and prosecutors find sufficient evidence to support a charge of possession for sale, they will choose to file a felony charge over a misdemeanor possession charge. A skilled drug defense attorney may be able to illuminate unreasonable search and seizure to have evidence of intent to distribute suppressed, to provide reasonable doubt that the defendant was actually in possession of the drug in question, or to find other avenues for defense that can help a defendant avoid unnecessary consequences of conviction.
Penalties for Conviction of Possession of Drugs for Sale
Even as a first offense, drug possession with intent to distribute is a felony punishable by a minimum sentence of two years in prison, with a maximum of life in prison and a $20,000 fine. As a first offense, the conviction may be eligible for a suspended sentence; subsequent offenses, however, carry a minimum of four years in prison and are ineligible for deferred sentencing. Other potential penalties include:
- Felony criminal record
- Mandatory drug testing
- Extensive probation and parole
- Driver’s license suspension
- Collateral consequences of felony conviction, including loss of voting rights and the loss of the right to possess and carry firearms
Drug Crime Defense in Oklahoma
At Phillips & Associates, or drug crime defense lawyers are fully committed to providing the highest quality, most effective defense strategies available. We carefully examine all defense options to uncover the strongest defense for your unique circumstances. Possible drug crime defense strategies include:
- Careful examination of all police and witnesses involved in your case
- Negotiate favorable sentencing options and alternatives to jail
- Uncover police mistakes and work to have evidence suppressed
- Pursue dismissal or amended and reduced charges
- Provide independent analysis of Controlled Dangerous Substances (CDS) to verify or dispute the accuracy of police drug testing
If you are a defendant in a drug case, prosecutors and police may have a conviction as their primary interest, rather than your rights. The attorneys at Phillips & Associates are dedicated to protecting defendants rights through providing high quality defense representation and sound legal counsel. To schedule your free, no-risk consultation with one of our reputable attorneys, submit the online case evaluation form or call (405) 418-8888 today.