Martinsburg Drug Crime Defense Attorneys
Serving Clients Throughout West Virginia, Berkeley County & Beyond
Offenses involving illegal drugs, whether street drugs or unauthorized prescription medicines, are serious matters in West Virginia. Drug possession is one of the most common crimes prosecuted in the local courts.
These crimes can carry a wide range of penalties, including fines and prison sentences. Penalties for drug crimes are dependent upon the type of substance involved, as well as the amount. Penalties are also determined by considerations of alleged intent to sell and/or distribute the substance, or if it was intended for personal use.
Drug cases often are complex, and being charged with a drug crime can feel overwhelming. You may be unaware of the best step to take or where to search for help. At The Criminal Law Center, one of our skilled and experienced Martinsburg drug crime lawyers can help you combat the charges and pursue the best possible outcome in either state or federal court.
Drug Crimes in West Virginia
Drug crimes in our state can include the following:
- Drug Possession: This refers to having a controlled substance for personal use. It could be illegal drugs like heroin or cocaine, or prescription medication without a valid authorization.
- Drug Distribution: This involves illegally selling, delivering, or providing controlled substances to others.
- Drug Manufacturing: This involves any part of the production process of illegal substances, from growing marijuana to cooking methamphetamine.
- Drug Trafficking: This is a more serious crime that involves the transportation, importation, and sale of large quantities of controlled substances, often across state lines, violating federal law.
- Conspiracy: This refers to an agreement between two or more people to commit an unlawful act, such as manufacturing, distributing, or trafficking a controlled substance. Essentially, it involves planning or colluding to carry out a drug crime.
- Drug Paraphernalia: This is the offense of possessing equipment, products, or materials that are intended to be used in any aspect of creating, using, or selling drugs, from pipes and bongs to scales, syringes, spoons, and more.
Drug crimes are based on “controlled substances.” These are illegal narcotics, medicines, and their precursors categorized into five schedules, from I to V, based on their potential for abuse, with Schedule I and II drugs having the highest potential.
Examples of Schedule I and II drugs include heroin, LSD, Ecstasy, cocaine, methamphetamine, and fentanyl.
Penalties for First-Time Drug Offenders in West Virginia
First-time drug offenders in West Virginia may face penalties that vary depending on whether the charge is a misdemeanor or felony. For example, misdemeanor drug charges involve smaller quantities of drugs, usually intended for personal use as well as possession of drug paraphernalia. Penalties for misdemeanor drug charges may include up to six months in jail and/or fines up to $1,000.
Felony drug offenses typically involve larger quantities of drugs, distribution, or manufacturing. These felony charges can range from one to 15 years in prison and fines of up to $25,000.
Penalties can increase for repeat offenders or if the crime involves selling drugs to minors or near schools. In addition, some drugs are considered more dangerous than others and possession of even a small amount can result in felony charges. For example, possession of any amount of a Schedule I or II drug (like heroin or methamphetamine) is considered a felony in West Virginia.
Federal vs. State Drug Charges
Federal drug charges are typically more severe than state charges. They are governed by the federal Controlled Substances Act and often involve trafficking, conspiracy to sell, and drug importation. Federal penalties can range from five years to life imprisonment, depending on the nature of the crime and the quantity of drugs involved.
Federal courts handle drug cases that involve large amounts of drugs or organized criminal drug activity. They are often extensively investigated by the DEA with the full resources of the federal government. These investigations can go on for months or even years in sophisticated and complex cases. Working with a federally-licensed and experienced trial lawyer is essential in these cases.
Marijuana Charges in West Virginia
It's important to note that while West Virginia has legalized medical marijuana, marijuana remains illegal under federal law. Therefore, even if you are complying with state law, you could still be prosecuted for marijuana-related crimes under federal law.
For example, possession of less than 15 grams is considered a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Possession of 15 grams or more is considered a felony carrying a prison sentence of one to five years and a maximum fine of $15,000.
Drug Charge Defense Strategies
The best defense in drug crime cases often centers around litigating motions to suppress the physical evidence or motions to dismiss the charges for insufficient proof. Drug cases sometimes hinge on various other areas of the law, including search and seizure issues. Attorneys at The Criminal Law Center are well-versed in all state and federal drug laws, and we can help you in your defense against these charges.
Talk to one of our experienced drug crime trial lawyers. Call (304) 244-0633 today.