Law enforcement officers frequently overlook constitutional rights in their zeal to fight and win the “war on drugs.” If you’re being questioned about or arrested for a drug offense in Indiana, you need to talk to experienced criminal defense attorney Marc Lopez.
You have rights guaranteed under the Indiana and Federal Constitutions—including the right to an attorney. If you’re being questioned about or arrested for a drug crime, you should not say anything until after you have spoken to a lawyer.
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;
- attempts to flee made by passengers;
- incriminating movements made by passengers;
- how close the drugs were to each of the persons in the vehicle;
- whether the drugs were in plain view of anyone; 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’s in your best interest to have an experienced criminal defense attorney fighting for you. The penalties for drug charges—even first offenses—can be very tough. Contact the Marc Lopez Law Firm at 317-632-3642 or by email for a free consultation.
Consequences of Drug Offenses
Drug offenses in Indiana can range from a Class B misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine, to a Level 2 felony, which carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
The most common type of drug offense in Indiana is possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana. This is charged as a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of 365 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. Possessing more than 30 grams—or having a prior conviction for possession of marijuana—will automatically turn the Class A misdemeanor charge into a Level 6 felony, which carries a maximum penalty of two-and-a-half years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
It’s important that you hire a criminal defense attorney if you’re charged with a drug crime. In addition to the possibility of jail time, there are a number of other penalties—sometimes called collateral consequences—you may be facing. The Court is not required to advise you of these collateral consequences, which can include:
- 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.
- Loss of Federal Student Aid eligibility. Any drug conviction—even misdemeanor marijuana possession—makes you ineligible to receive Federal Student Aid. If you’re 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.
- Diminished Second Amendment rights. Drug convictions can also interfere with your ability to legally own or possess a firearm. If you’re convicted of a drug-related felony, federal law prohibits you from owning a gun. Do not take a drug charge lightly.
- 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.
If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges for drug possession, contact the Marc Lopez Law Firm by email, or give us a call at 317-632-3642.