Missouri Drug Laws
Missouri Drug Laws.
Kimberly J. Benjamin, Founder & Managing Attorney
Published: December 6. 2019.
Updated: December 6. 2019.
Drug Court Missouri
Many people who are convicted of drug crimes are suffering from serious substance abuse issues.
Sending these offenders to prison or jail is not nearly as effective as treating the underlying substance abuse problem. Fortunately, certain non-violent drug offenders in Missouri can avoid incarceration by participating in a specialized drug court program.
Here’s how drug courts work:
Who is Admitted Into the Drug Court Program?
A defendant cannot enter the drug court program unless a prosecutor has referred him. The defendant will then enter a screening process to determine eligibility. This program is only available to adults with substance abuse problems that are facing non-violent felony charges.
What Should Defendants Expect During the Drug Court Program?
Defendants who are accepted must comply with some rules while in the drug court program. Throughout the program, participants must undergo substance abuse treatment and counseling.
Participants are also expected to comply with random drug test requests and maintain employment or stay in school. In addition, they are required to make frequent court appearances to update the judge on their progress in the program.
Each defendant is closely supervised throughout the course of the program. This ensures that each defendant gets the individualized help he needs to overcome his substance abuse issues and meet his personal goals.
How Long is the Drug Court Program?
The drug court program consists of different phases. Defendants must complete all requirements in one phase before moving onto the next. So the exact length of time it takes to make it through the program varies on a case-by-case basis.
However, the law states that defendants must stay in the program for at least one year and complete it within two years.
What Happens After the Program is Completed?
If a defendant makes it through the drug court program, the criminal charges against him will be dismissed. This means the defendant will get to move forward in his life without a criminal conviction on his record.
But, if the defendant fails to comply with the terms of the program, the judge can terminate his enrollment and impose other legal penalties.
Drug court has been extremely successful in reducing crime and helping offenders beat their addictions. In fact, it has been reported that drug courts are more effective in reducing crime than jail, prison, probation, and other sentencing options.
Missouri Drug Paraphernalia Laws
Mo. Rev. Stat. § 579.074 provides that individuals commit the offense of unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia when they knowingly use or intend to use drug paraphernalia to create or introduce a banned substance or an imitation drug into the body.
Possession of drug paraphernalia is a low-level drug charge that normally does not carry the possibility of jail time.
The offense is a Class D misdemeanor under Missouri law, for which you can be required to pay a $500 fine. You also will have a drug-related criminal conviction on your record that will show up during criminal background checks.
However, unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia increases to a Class A misdemeanor for anyone who has had a previous conviction for any drug-related offense, either in Missouri or another state.
Furthermore, it is a Class E felony if the person uses or possesses with intent to use the paraphernalia to manufacture or otherwise prepare amphetamine, methamphetamine, or any of their analogs.
A Class A misdemeanor can result in a jail sentence of up to one year and a fine of up to $2,000. However, a Class E felony conviction can result in a prison sentence of up to four years.
Furthermore, Mo. Rev. Stat. § 579.076 establishes the offense of unlawful manufacture of drug paraphernalia.
This offense occurs when a person unlawfully manufactures drug paraphernalia with intent to deliver when they know or reasonably should know that it will be used to create or introduce a controlled substance or an imitation of the same in someone’s body.
This offense is also a Class A felony unless it is done for commercial purposes, in which case it is a Class E felony. All drug-related criminal offenses can result in serious consequences.
Class C Felony Missouri Possession Controlled Substance
Missouri is known for having some of the toughest drug possession laws in the country. This is especially true of Missouri’s drug possession laws than those in many other states. No one should take drug possession charges lightly-even first-time offenders.
Here’s an overview of the penalties that may be imposed on first-time offenders who are convicted of possession of a controlled substance in Missouri:
Marijuana Possession vs. Other Controlled Substances
The severity of the penalties that first-time offenders face will vary depending on the type of banned substance in their possession. Most drug possession charges are classified as a class D felony.
However, the laws regarding the possession of marijuana are different. Having less than 35g of marijuana or synthetic cannabinoids in your possession is a Class A felony in Missouri. But, the possession of more than 35g of marijuana constitutes a Class D crime.
This means all Missouri drug possession charges are class D felonies, except for possession of 35 grams or less of marijuana or synthetic cannabinoids.
Penalties For Missouri Drug Possession
First-time offenders will not face jail time for having 10 grams or less of marijuana in their possession; however, they will face up to $500 in fines.
Jail time is a possibility for first-time offenders who have over 10 grams but less than 35 grams of marijuana in their possession. First-time offenders in this situation can face up to 1 year in jail plus $2,000 in fines.
The penalties are far more serious for first-time offenders charged with possession of more than 35g of marijuana or possession of any other banned substance. These are class C felony crimes, so incarceration is a genuine possibility.
The maximum sentence for a Class C felony is 7 years in prison, in addition to a $10,000 fine. But fortunately, first-time offenders typically do not receive the maximum sentence.
Distribution of a controlled substance (except for less than 5g of marijuana) is a Class B felony punishable by up to 15 years of imprisonment. Distribution within 2000ft of a school (except for less than 5g of marijuana) is a Class A felony that attracts life or 30 years imprisonment.
Treatment vs. Incarceration
Many first-time offenders are allowed to complete a drug treatment program that allows them to avoid incarceration altogether.
This program is only available to non-violent offenders found guilty of a felony drug crime or have a drug problem that caused them to be charged with a non-violent felony crime.
During the program, first-time offenders must submit to random drug testing, attend counseling, participate in vocational programs, and make scheduled court appearances. Offenders who make it through the entire program without violating any rules will not spend time behind bars.
This is the preferred sentence for offenders since it does not involve prison time. However, there’s no guarantee that the court will allow you to enter this program if charged with drug possession.
Contact an Experienced Missouri Drug Charges Attorney
If you have been arrested or charged with drug possession in Missouri, it is critical to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The sooner your case begins, the better chance you have of protecting yourself from serious consequences.
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