Most crimes related to controlled substances lead to felonies, not misdemeanor charges. And, if you are accused of being involved with certain serious drugs, like cocaine and methamphetamine, you face very serious felony charges and harsh punishments. Some prosecutors require mandatory prison time on certain drug crimes and some drug crimes lead to the highest possible felony charges—Y felonies, which can lead to life in prison.
Whether you are a first-time drug offender, or you have one or more drug crimes on your record already, you need to do everything you can to address this situation quickly and effectively. The best way to do this is to hire a Fayetteville drug crime defense attorney as soon as possible after your arrest.
To talk with a Fayetteville drug possession defense lawyer about your rights and options, contact The Law Group of Northwest Arkansas LLP online or at (479) 316-3760. Our criminal defense attorneys are former Benton, Sebastian, and Washington County prosecuting attorneys, and they have the experience and knowledge to help you navigate this process in our region.
What Is a Controlled Substance?
A controlled substance is a drug that is regulated under federal and state law. Under the Arkansas Uniform Controlled Substances Act, AR Code §5-64-101 through §5-64-510, the definition of a controlled substance includes not only any drug or substance but also includes any immediate precursor to a controlled substance. A precursor is an ingredient required to make certain drugs, like meth.
Some controlled substances are entirely illegal. No one, except perhaps licensed researchers, can possess these drugs. Other controlled substances are common prescriptions and, under very limited circumstances, can even include over-the-counter medications. These are lawful to possess if you receive a valid prescription for that drug from your doctor however, you can only possess the type and amount prescribed. For regulated OTC medications, you may be limited to how much you can purchase at one time and you may need to be of a certain age.
Arkansas Controlled Substances Schedule
Controlled substances are categorized by schedule under Arkansas law. There are six schedules, which divide the drugs up by their risk of dependency and abuse and whether they have a current medical use. You can find the schedules in AR Code §6-64-203 through §6-64-216.
Schedule I: These drugs have the highest likelihood of abuse and include opiates, opium derivatives like morphine or heroin, hallucinogenic drugs like Ecstasy, depressants like GHB, and certain stimulants.
Schedule II: These drugs have an accepted medical use but a high likelihood of physical and psychological dependency and abuse. They include certain narcotics like cocaine, stimulants like methamphetamine, and barbiturates.
Schedule III: These drugs have an accepted medical use and a lower risk of physical and psychological dependency. These include anabolic steroids.
Schedule IV: These drugs have an accepted medical use and a low risk of dependency and abuse. They include many anti-depressants and sleep medications.
Schedule V: These drugs have accepted medical uses and are the least dangerous controlled substances. They are prescriptions and OTC drugs that have a small amount of a narcotic ingredient, but a non-narcotic active ingredient, such as cough medicine.
Schedule VI: These drugs do not have an accepted medical use, are considered unsafe, and carry a risk of physical or psychological dependence, though they do not fit into a different schedule. This schedule includes marijuana.
This schedule matters because it influences the level of the charge against you. Possession of a controlled substance can be a misdemeanor or felony depending on the schedule of the drug. If you are charged with possessing any type of controlled substance, whether it is a medication that you do not have a prescription for, marijuana, cocaine, or anything falling under the Arkansas schedule, you need to call a Fayetteville drug arrest defense attorney as soon as you can.
Drug Possession Charges
At The Law Group of Northwest Arkansas LLP, our Fayetteville drug possession defense lawyers are ready to handle all types of drug charges. Possession of certain controlled substances is illegal under AR Code §5-64-419. In the statute, the potential charges are broken down by the schedule of the drug.
- Possession of a Schedule I or II Drug (Not Including Cocaine or Meth): This is a Class B, C, or D felony. The level of the felony depends on the amount of Schedule I drugs in your possession. However, cocaine and methamphetamine possession are charged and punished differently.
- Possession of Cocaine: This offense is a Class B, C, or D felony depending on the amount of cocaine in your possession.
- Possession of Methamphetamine: This drug crime is a Class B, C, or D felony depending on the amount of meth in your possession.
- Possession of a Schedule III Drug: This can be a Class A misdemeanor or Class B, C, or D felony offense depending on the amount in your possession.
- Possession of a Schedule IV or V Drug: This can be a Class A misdemeanor or Class B, C, or D felony offense depending on the amount in your possession, though the amounts differ from those for Schedule III drugs.
- Possession of Marijuana: Possession of a Schedule VI drug can be a misdemeanor or felony based on the amount in your possession and your criminal history. This can be a Class A misdemeanor, or a Class A, B, C, or D felony.
Keep in mind, these charges do not have to arise because of a completely illegal drug like cocaine, heroin, or meth. You also can face prescription drug charges if you are in possession of prescription medications without a valid prescription.
Manufacturing Controlled Substances
There are many more serious drug crimes you can be charged with other than simple drug possession. You can also be charged with manufacturing, creating, or cultivating drugs. The crime of manufacturing methamphetamine or cocaine is found under AR Code §5-64-423. Manufacturing these drugs is a felony, and depending on the amount, you can be charged with the most serious felony offenses—Class A or Class Y felonies.
Possession With Intent to Deliver
There are several statutes that address possession of illegal drugs for the purpose of delivering them to others, whether as a gift or sale:
- AR Code §5-64-420: Possession of methamphetamine or cocaine with the purpose to deliver.
- AR Code §5-64-424: Possession of a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance (not methamphetamine or cocaine) with the purpose to deliver.
- AR Code §5-64-428: Possession of a Schedule III controlled substance with the purpose to deliver.
- AR Code §5-64-432: Possession of a Schedule IV or Schedule V controlled substance with the purpose to deliver.
- AR Code §5-64-436: Possession of a Schedule VI controlled substance with the purpose to deliver.
Each statute outlines the quantity of the drug that can cause you to be charged with possession with intent to deliver. The quantity in your possession will dictate whether you are charged with a Class C, B, or A felony. For the less serious drugs, you also could be charged with a Class D felony or Class A misdemeanor.
You can be charged with a felony under AR Code §5-64-440 for trafficking a controlled substance. You may be accused of trafficking drugs if you possess with the purpose to deliver, deliver, or manufacturer a controlled substance in the following amounts:
- 200 grams or more of meth or cocaine
- 200 grams or more of a Schedule I or II substance
- 400 grams or more of a Schedule III substances
- 800 grams or more of a Schedule IV or V substance
- 500 pounds or more of a Schedule VI substance
This crime is a Class Y felony. If you are facing trafficking charges, contact a Fayetteville drug possession lawyer immediately.
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
Possessing any type of drug paraphernalia is illegal under AR Code §5-64-443. Depending on the type of paraphernalia in your possession and the drugs it is meant for, you can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor or a Class B or D felony for each individual piece of paraphernalia in your possession. Drug paraphernalia can be many things, including but not limited to, pipes, scales, and needles. Paraphernalia can also be everyday household items like spoons, balloons, or envelopes. Whether or not something is considered paraphernalia will be determined by the circumstances surrounding the item and its possessor, such as the possessor’s prior convictions or statements regarding the object, proximity of the object to a drug, and the presence of drug residue on the item. Paraphernalia to be used with meth and cocaine leads to the highest charge, a Class B felony.
Arkansas Drug Penalties
The penalty you face for a drug crime depends on the level of the charge against you. Penalties for misdemeanor and felony offenses in Arkansas are:
- Class Y Felony: Between 10 and 40 years in prison, or life imprisonment.
- Class A Felony: Between 6 and 30 years in prison and a maximum fine of $15,000.
- Class B Felony: Between 5 and 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $15,000.
- Class C Felony: Between 3 and 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.
- Class D Felony: Up to 6 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
- Class A Misdemeanor: Up to 1 year in jail and a fine up to $2,500.
- Class B Misdemeanor: Up to 90 days in jail and a fine up to $1,000.
- Class C Misdemeanor: Up to 30 days in jail and a fine up to $500
These are minimum and maximum penalty ranges. To determine the most appropriate sentence, prosecutors and judges will refer to Arkansas sentencing grid, which went into effect January 1, 2018. On the vertical axis of the grid is the seriousness level of the offense. Every crime is designated a level between 1 and 10. On the horizontal axis of the grid is your criminal record score. Based on your criminal history, you are given a score between one and five. Where your seriousness level and score meet is your presumptive term of imprisonment.
However, if you a first-time drug offender, call us immediately. There are several Arkansas laws that provide for alternative sentencing. You also may be eligible for drug court or a diversion program, which could enable you to avoid a conviction.
Call Our Fayetteville Drug Attorney For Help Today
To have a more thorough discussion of the charges against you and the potential penalties, speak to a Fayetteville drug arrest attorney from The Law Group of Northwest Arkansas LLP today. You can reach us through our online contact form or call (479) 316-3760 to schedule a consultation.