Any legal statute is confusing for the average person to understand, and Utah drug laws are confusing. And being charged with violating them is stressful and frustrating—at least in part because of the complex legal system. Every state has sometimes vastly different drug laws. Knowing exactly what you’re up against when you are charged with a drug crime can be difficult to understand, let alone fight. A local criminal defense attorney can help.
In order to be charged with possession of drugs, you don’t have to have the drugs in your hand. As a matter of fact, they don’t even have to be yours. If you are found with a controlled substance under your control, you can be arrested and charged with possession of drugs. This means they could be next to you on a couch or on the sidewalk near where you stand. Many people have been caught up in a drug case who were completely innocent. And even for those who admit some level of culpability, all hope is not lost.
Utah Drug Possession Laws
In Utah, the charge you face for drug possession is somewhat simplified when compared with other states.
Generally, drug possession of a Schedule I or II substance or marijuana, under the Utah Controlled Substances Act (58-37-8), is considered a 3rd degree felony. This is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and $5,000 in fines.
Some exceptions apply:
- If you are accused of possessing more than 100 pounds of marijuana, the charge is elevated to a 2nd Degree Felony, punishable by 1 to 15 years in prison and fines reaching $10,000.
- If you have a prior conviction for distributing or manufacturing and are now facing a possession charge, your charge will be elevated one classification. For instance, a normal 3rd degree felony possession charge will now be a 2nd degree felony charge.
- If the substance is not a Schedule I or II drug or is less than one ounce of marijuana, the possession charge is considered a Class B Misdemeanor with up to 6 months in jail for a first offense.
- If you are found in possession of drugs while in a correctional facility, your charge will be elevated one level.
At first impression drug possession laws in Utah may seem clear, but to read through the statutes presents a different picture.
And there are countless variables in how the actual statute is presented, prosecuted, defendant, and sentenced in court if a conviction is the result.
With so many exceptions and classifications, and so much on the line for you, the best way to know what you are up against is to consult with a local criminal defense attorney, and get the best defense advice you can get.
If you are charged with Utah drug possession, call to speak directly with a local lawyer today.