Drug Offenses

Indianapolis and Indiana Criminal Defense Lawyer

Law enforcement officers frequently overlook Constitutional rights in their zeal to fight and win the “war on drugs.” If you are being questioned about or arrested for a drug offense, you need to talk to Indiana criminal defense lawyer Marc Lopez in Indianapolis, Indiana.

You have rights guaranteed under the Indiana and Federal Constitutions — including the right to an attorney. If you are being questioned about or arrested for a drug crime, you should not say anything until after you have spoken to a criminal defense attorney. Every word you utter in the presence of the police can be used against you, regardless of the context in which you say it. A sarcastic confession can be just as damaging as a sincere one.

Two Types of Drug Possession

Indiana Law recognizes two types of drug possession: actual and constructive. While both types can land a person in jail, constructive possession of drugs — such as marijuana or cocaine — is much harder for the State of Indiana to prove.Actual possession is just what it sounds like. When the police find drugs on your person (which includes your clothes), this is actual possession. With this type of drug charge, attacking the possession itself is probably not the best legal strategy. It will likely be more advantageous to make another type of argument, like asserting that the police did not have probable cause to stop you.

Constructive possession is much more complicated, as it usually only comes up when police officers find drugs in a vehicle that is occupied by more than one person. If drugs are recovered in a common area (such as the trunk) — or if they are found in an area that suggests not all passengers were aware of their presence — law enforcement will use various factors to determine possession. These factors include: incriminating statements made by any of the passengers, attempted flight of passengers, whether any passengers made any incriminating movements, how close the drugs were to the persons in the vehicle, whether the drugs were in the plain view of any of the passengers,  and whether any personal items were located with the drugs.

As you can see, constructive possession makes prosecutors work much harder than actual possession. Regardless of what type of possession case the State has against you, it is in your best interest to have an experienced Indiana drug defense attorney fighting for you. The penalties for drug charges — even first offenses — can be very tough. Contact Attorney Marc Lopez at 317-632-3642 or by email for a free consultation.

Drug Offense Consequences

Drug offenses in Indiana can range from a B misdemeanor (possession of a lookalike substance) to a Level 2 felony (dealing at least 10 grams of cocaine).

The most common type of drug offense in Indiana is possession of marijuana under 30 grams. This is charged as an A misdemeanor. Possessing more than 30 grams — or having a prior conviction for possession of marijuana — will automatically turn the A misdemeanor charge into a Level 6 felony.

It is important that you hire a criminal defense attorney if you are charged with a drug crime. In addition to the possibility of jail time, as described above, there are a number of other penalties (“collateral consequences”) you may be facing. The Court is not required to advise you of these collateral consequences, which can include:

1. Sentencing enhancements on subsequent drug charges. A conviction for a drug crime will cause you to receive a stiffer penalty if you ever get caught with drugs again. In some circumstances, what would normally count as a misdemeanor will be charged as a felony if new charges are ever filed. Mistakes are always worse when you repeat them.

2. Loss of Federal Student Aid eligibility. Any drug conviction — even misdemeanor marijuana possession — makes you ineligible to receive Federal Student Aid. If you are relying on government assistance to finance your education, the last thing you want is a drug conviction. Accepting a quick plea deal can sabotage your academic plans. This applies to other federal programs as well, including food stamps and subsidized housing. Do not take your future for granted.

3. Diminished Second Amendment rights. Drug convictions can also interfere with your ability to legally own or possess a firearm. If you are convicted of a drug-related felony, federal law prohibits you from owning a gun. Do not take a drug charge lightly.

4. Loss of parental rights. A drug charge and conviction will likely have a negative effect on your parenting rights and may be taken into consideration by a family law judge. Think of the children.

Contact the attorneys at the Marc Lopez Law Firm today at 317-632-3642. Or contact us by email.