Baton Rouge Drug Crimes Lawyer
Due to our state’s gradual decriminalization of marijuana over the last few years, fewer Louisianans are facing jail time for marijuana-related drug crimes. However, thousands of Louisianans are still accused and convicted for drug-related offenses every year. In fact, Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the country according to The Sentencing Project. Many of these incarcerations are drug-related. That’s why each Baton Rouge drug possession lawyer at the Law Offices of Ossie Brown is so passionate about protecting the legal rights of our clients convicted of drug offenses.
If you’re facing any kind of drug possession charge involving marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, fentanyl, or any other illegal drug, allow a criminal defense attorney at our law firm to defend you. Call 225-343-1111 to schedule a free consultation.
What is Drug Possession?
Drug possession is a type of drug crime in which someone willingly possesses an illegal drug such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, LSD, marijuana, etc. Federal and state drug possession laws also incriminate someone if they have drug paraphernalia or chemicals used to manufacture illegal drugs.
Types of Drug Possession
There are three main types of drug possession charges, and they are simple possession, possession with intent to distribute, and constructive possession.
- Simple Possession means that someone possesses a small amount of an illegal substance that they would use only for themselves.
- Possession With Intent to Distribute means that someone possesses a large amount of an illegal substance in order to give it to other people. Not only does the person possess a large amount of drugs, but they also have drug paraphernalia like scales, bags, and maybe even lots of cash which suggests that they are distributing drugs. This type of drug possession charge typically comes with more serious penalties than simple possession.
- Constructive Possession means that even if you don’t have illegal substances on you at a specific moment, police still have reason to believe that drugs are nearby and you have control over them.
How to Prove Drug Possession
In order to be convicted of drug possession charges, prosecutors must have evidence that:
- The person knew that the drug involved was illegal,
- And the person willingly had possession or control over the illegal drug.
Over the last few years, Louisiana drug possession laws regarding marijuana have become much more lax.
Reduction of criminal penalties for marijuana began in June 2015 with Governor Bobby Jindal. He signed SB 143, which mandated a $300 fine and 15 days of jail time for first time possession penalties. For a second criminal offense, the bill mandated a $1,000 fine and 6 months of jail time. A third criminal offense warranted a $2,500 fine and up to 2 years in jail. And finally, all subsequent drug possession offenses warranted a $5,000 fine and up to 8 years in jail under this bill.
Governor John Bel Edwards took marijuana decriminalization a step further by signing HB 652 in June 2021. Before Governor Edwards signed this statewide decriminalization bill though, a few cities had already decriminalized the drug: Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and Shreveport.
Under this bill, Louisianans only have to pay a fine of $100 if they are caught with less than 14 grams of marijuana. If Louisianans are caught with more than 14 grams though, they could pay a large fine and spend some time in jail.
- Possession of more than 14 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor offense punishable by 6 months in jail and a $500 fine.
- Possession of 2.5lbs to 59lbs of marijuana is a felony offense punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison. Additionally, offenders have to pay a $30,000 fine.
- Possession of 60lbs to 1,999lbs of marijuana is a felony offense punishable by 5 to 30 years in prison. Offenders also have to pay a $100,000 fine.
- Possession of 2,000lbs to 9,999lbs of marijuana is a felony offense punishable by 10 to 40 years in prison. Offenders also have to pay a $400,000 fine.
- Possession of more than 10,000lbs of marijuana is a felony offense punishable by 25 to 40 years in prison. Additionally, offenders must pay a $1,000,000 fine.
The gradual decriminalization of marijuana is due to the fact that too many people are in Louisiana jails just for possessing a small amount of the drug. In fact, a report from the Louisiana ACLU states that more than 21,000 people were arrested for marijuana-related charges in 2018 alone. Additionally, marijuana possession arrests accounted for more than 50% of all drug-related arrests in 2018.
Medical marijuana is legal in Louisiana, thanks to both Governor Jindal and Governor Edwards. Governor Jindal set legal medical marijuana in motion by signing HB 149 in 2015. However, medical marijuana dispensing didn’t actually begin until the summer of 2019.
In the summer of 2020, Governor Edwards signed HB 819 which allowed more access to the state’s medical marijuana. The bill allows any Louisiana doctor to recommend medical marijuana for conditions such as:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Lou Gehrig’s disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis)
- Cachexia, which is a muscle wasting disorder
- Crohn’s disease
- Epilepsy and other seizure disorders
- Chronic pain
- Muscular dystrophy
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Huntington’s disease
- Severe muscle spasms
- Traumatic brain injury
- Lewy-body dementia
- Motor neuron disease
- Any other debilitating condition that a doctor believes could be improved with medical marijuana
Louisianans with a medical marijuana card can now buy raw flower marijuana through local dispensaries as of January 2022. Louisianans can legally possess up to 2.5 ounces of medical marijuana flower. It is important to note, however, that growing marijuana plants for both recreational and medicinal use is still illegal.
What are Controlled Substances?
A controlled substance is a drug that you cannot possess unless you have a prescription for it. That’s because many controlled substances have medical benefits, but they’re very addictive if not carefully prescribed by a medical professional.
Controlled substances are separated into 5 categories which are called drug schedules. Schedule I drugs have the highest potential for abuse and psychological dependence while schedule V drugs have the lowest potential for abuse and psychological dependence. In many states, drug scheduling is taken into account for drug possession penalties.
According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, schedule I drugs are those that don’t have an accepted medical use and have the highest potential for abuse. Ecstasy, peyote, LSD, heroin, and marijuana are examples of schedule I drugs.
Schedule II drugs are those that can be easily abused and can lead to severe psychological or physical dependence. Cocaine, fentanyl methamphetamine, OxyContin, Adderall, Vicodin, and methadone are all examples of Schedule II drugs.
Schedule III drugs are those that have a low risk of psychological or physical dependence. Additionally, there is still potential for abuse of these drugs, but it’s a much lower risk compared to the other drug schedules. Ketamine, testosterone, anabolic steroids, and drugs containing fewer than 90mg of codeine per dose are considered schedule III drugs.
Schedule IV drugs are those with a low risk of abuse and dependence. Xanax, Ativan, Valium, Ambien, and Tramadol are examples of Schedule IV drugs.
Schedule V drugs are the least addictive and have the lowest risk of abuse. These drugs – commonly used to treat coughs, diarrhea, and pain – usually contain small amounts of narcotics. Robitussin AC, Lyrica, Lomotil, Parepectolin, and Motofen are all examples of Schedule V drugs.
Louisiana Drug Possession Charges
You can face criminal charges for both marijuana and non-marijuana drug offenses in Louisiana. That’s because marijuana, despite having medical benefits, is still included in the Schedule I drug category. Below, our Baton Rouge drug possession attorneys lay out the criminal charges and fines associated with non-marijuana drugs as mandated by Louisiana law (RS 40:966).
- Schedule I: Punishable by a $5,000 fine and a maximum jail sentence of 10 years.
- Schedule II: Punishable by a $5,000 fine and a maximum jail sentence of 5 years. If the offender possesses phencyclidine (PCP), they could face jail time of up to 20 years.
- Schedule III: Punishable by a $5,000 fine and a maximum jail sentence of 5 years.
- Schedule IV: Punishable by a $5,000 fine and a maximum jail sentence of 5 years. If the offender possesses Flunitrazepam (rohypnol), they could spend up to 10 years behind bars.
For second and subsequent drug offenses, Louisianans could face double the fine or prison time. If you have a serious charge involving marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, fentanyl, or any other illegal drug on your criminal record, the Baton Rouge drug possession attorneys at the Law Offices of Ossie Brown can help.
Other Drug Crime Penalties
There are other penalties aside from just spending time in jail and paying large fines. Offenders may also face these penalties depending on the facts of their drug possession case:
- Drug addiction programs
- Suspension or complete loss of driver’s license
- Community service
- Ineligibility for some types of jobs, public housing, certifications, financial aid, scholarships, etc.
Possible Defenses for a Drug Possession Charge
If you are charged with a drug crime in Louisiana, a Baton Rouge drug possession lawyer can fight for the best outcome in your case by using one or more of the defenses listed below.
- Illegal Search and Seizure: Police officers must have probable cause to engage in search and seizure. If a police officer searched your home or car with no probable cause and then discovered that you possessed illegal drugs, our legal team could use this defense in your favor.
- The Drugs Aren’t Yours: In some drug cases, illegal drugs are planted near the suspect or on their property. If this is the case for you, our team could gather solid evidence to prove that the illegal drugs in question are not yours.
- Drug Lab Analysis: Just because something looks like it could be an illegal drug, doesn’t mean it is. Our Baton Rouge criminal defense attorneys will ensure that the substances in question undergo lab analysis in order to determine what it is. If the lab analysis shows that it’s not an illegal substance, then you may be off the hook.
- Entrapment: It is legal for officers to plan sting operations in order to catch someone committing a crime, but there are restrictions. For example, if it can be proven that a police officer somehow pressured a suspect to commit a crime (in this case: drug possession) just so they can be convicted and locked up, then a Baton Rouge drug possession lawyer could use this defense to your advantage.
Call a Baton Rouge Drug Possession Lawyer at The Law Offices of Ossie Brown
The highly skilled criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Ossie Brown are passionate about defending the legal rights of Louisianans. We have decades of combined experience in litigating all sorts of drug offense cases and giving our clients the best outcome possible.
If you’re feeling hopeless about your drug possession case involving marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, fentanyl, or any other illegal drug, allow our law firm to protect your rights and your freedom. We are ready to start an attorney-client relationship with you today. Call a Baton Rouge drug possession lawyer at 225-343-1111 to schedule a free consultation.
Let us review your case at no cost to you. We want to take the time to get to know you and understand your legal goals and objectives.
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