Drug possession is the most common crime in America, affecting everyone from teenagers to senior citizens and all walks of life. There are over 1.25 million arrests each year for possession, one of every nine arrests. In a recently released report from Human Rights Watch, that comes to an arrest every 25 seconds.
As the prison population grows and the federal government is ever more conscious of financial costs, many are calling for reform on a system that has more arrests for drug possession than for violent crime. In recent years, many states have decriminalized recreational marijuana usage. Pennsylvania is currently adopting procedures for medicinal marijuana, which is also reflective of changing attitudes.
Drug arrests have ongoing consequences
The true damage from drug arrests is not the initial sentence, but the foundation of a criminal record. As federally controlled substances, most drug arrests are felonies that stay on your record permanently. In many states, including here in Pennsylvania, there is a “three strikes” law where a felon with three convictions is punished more severely. Anyone with minor drug possession charges is in line for a disproportionate sentence should another crime occur later in life.
The ongoing punishment isn’t just for those who face trouble later, though. A criminal record damages job prospects, reputation, voting rights and even student loans. As a drug offender, you may be ineligible for federal loans to get your life back on track by going to college after serving your time.
Any drug possession is a serious offense with long-lasting consequences.
Possession is serious business
Even though it’s a very common arrest, there are many reasons why an arrest may not lead to conviction. Police may not follow procedure or respect your rights in a search. In other scenarios, similar-looking items are mistaken for drugs and even misdiagnosed in the crime lab. The manner of the arrest is especially important to your case, as is the gathering of any evidence.
A criminal defense attorney may be able to reduce charges or have evidence dismissed for violating your rights. Sometimes it may feel easier to serve the punishment and be done with it, but with a drug charge, the stigma is never fully removed. A clean record allows for a clean future.