Alabama Drug Penalties
Drug crimes in Alabama are taken incredibly seriously. Depending on both the type of controlled substance, and the quantity of that substance found an individual can be facing a wide array of potential consequences. Due to the severity of Alabama drug penalties, it is important that anyone facing such a charge contact an experienced attorney immediately. A knowledgeable drug lawyer will be able to build a strong defense to assist in lessening any potential penalties you may be facing.
Degree of Drug Classification
Drug-related offenses in Alabama have a wide range of penalties depending on the type of charge. One common type of charge is a misdemeanor offense, which carries a fine of up to $6,000 and up to one year in city or county jail. Offenses such as possession of drug paraphernalia and marijuana in the second degree fall under this category. However, there are also offenses that are classified as felonies, which carry more significant penalties. Examples of this include possession of a controlled substance such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and prescription medications. In these cases, a person faces a minimum sentence of one year and a day, up to 10 years in state penitentiary, and up to a $15,000 fine.
For drug distribution cases, an individual is looking at a two to 20-year sentence, and drug trafficking charges carry a minimum mandatory of three years, which can be increased to 25 or life depending on the quantities involved.
In Alabama, not all drugs are necessarily prosecuted. The quantity of the drug found increases the range of Alabama drug penalties more so than the classification of the drug itself. A person commits the crime of unlawful possession of an intent to distribute a controlled substance if they have a possession of between eight and 28 grams of cocaine, more than four grams of heroin, and any amphetamines up to 28 grams. Depending on the quantity of the drug, the penalties can vary in harshness in Alabama.
The biggest short-term penalty in an Alabama drug case is incarceration. This is until the individual is able to make bond and be released. Once released, many courts, as a condition of bond, would place that individual on some kind of restriction or some kind of “color code,” which is random drug and alcohol screening. This condition can usually be lifted by a knowledgeable attorney, but this is an immediate problem that somebody faces when charged with a drug-type offense in Alabama.
The type of drug crime that an individual is charged with in Alabama dictates the short-term consequences that an individual faces. The less severe consequences would relate to things like simple marijuana possession or, a lot of times, there are no consequences other than coming to court. However, if an individual is charged with more serious possession-type charges, such as heroin distribution or trafficking, that individual faces short-term consequences of an extremely high bond to be released from jail and again some type of random drug testing as a condition of bond.
In Alabama, the type of drug crime that an individual is charged with can impact them in the long-term. Simple possession crimes carry far fewer consequences than distribution and trafficking offenses. Distribution and trafficking are serious felonies where an individual faces significant prison sentences and fines of up to $60,000 versus simple marijuana possession, which is only a class A misdemeanor, and probation would be a likely outcome if convicted. However, more times than not, these types of cases can be dismissed.
Impact on a Personal Record
An individual can have three different types of records when talking about criminal matters. These types of records include:
- Driver history, which would not show anything related to a drug offense unless there is a conviction and a mandatory driver’s license suspension issued.
- Arrest history, where if an individual is charged and arrested for possession of a controlled substance or any other drug offense, that charge would initially appear on the arrest history and stay there until the case is resolved and expunged.
- Background record, which only includes convictions.
Initially, in Alabama, an individual’s record of arrest would be the first thing impacted. However, if the case is defended successfully and dismissed, there is a way to expunge and clean up that very history.
Benefits of an Attorney
A person facing a drug charge in Alabama should always contact an attorney, and should do so immediately. In Alabama, felony drug offenses will begin in the district court. In district court, it is not a determination of an individual’s guilt or innocence, but rather whether there was probable cause for the arrest warrant or arrest to have been made.
To challenge the probable cause, an individual must demand a preliminary hearing within 30 days from the date of arrest. Therefore, contacting a lawyer immediately allows a person an opportunity to timely file their demand for a preliminary hearing. As with any drug charge in Alabama, an individual is facing very significant consequences such as employment issues, loss of driver’s license, high fines, and imprisonment, so it is very important to contact a lawyer immediately. An individual will want to begin minimizing any Alabama drug penalties as soon as they possibly can.