When is Drug Possession Considered a Felony?

A crime involving drugs may be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the type and amount of the drug, as well as consideration of other significant factors. As with all types of law, felony drug convictions are met with harsher punishments than misdemeanors, and may include years of jail time, probation, and hefty fines. Due to the high cost of a felony conviction, it is important that anyone facing criminal charges for drug possession be aware of what conditions constitute a felony.

Determining Factors

In cases where the possession crime includes a less dangerous drug or a small quantity, it may be charged as a misdemeanor. However, charges may be raised to a felony if the drug was considered more dangerous, if the accused possessed a large quantity of drugs, if the individual had an intent to sell, or if other “aggravating factors”were present.

The “aggravating factors” that may lead to a felony drug charge include:

  • Possession at or near school grounds;
  • Possession in a public place (parks, pools, housing units, etc.
  • Possession in or near a drug treatment facility;
  • Possession in the presence of a child under the age of 18 years old; and
  • Repeat offenses

The laws against drug possession are harsh in Nebraska, as the state classifies not only the drugs themselves as controlled dangerous substances (CDS), but also the compounds used to make them. Possession of Schedule I drugs, which are considered the most dangerous because they have no medical use and a high abuse potential, is almost always punishable as a felony. Examples of Schedule I drugs are heroin, LSD, and cocaine. In certain circumstances, possession of Schedule II or II drugs may also be charged as a felony, especially if they were found in large quantities.

Simple Possession vs. Possession with Intent

The government will often automatically assume intent to sell or distribute drugs simply based on the accused possessing a large quantity of drugs. Even if an individual’s motives were purely for personal use, large quantities provide a presumption of intent to sell that the state may use to push for a felony conviction on the grounds that the person posed a danger to others and to the community as a whole.

If you or someone you know is facing drug possession charges, you can act now to defend their freedoms. Drug possession crimes charged as felonies can result in $10,000 fines and years of imprisonment. Contact Berry Law to discuss your case with our Lincoln and Omaha criminal defense lawyers so we can begin building your defense today.

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