*** Please note that Utah drug laws – especially in relation to marijuana – have changed significantly since this post was originally published. Contact us directly for information on current marijuana law. ***
A drug possession conviction in Ogden carries potential consequences that can include time in jail or prison, thousands of dollars in fines, loss of a driver license, and a range of probation conditions and restrictions. Drug possession charges in Ogden can involve so-called “street drugs” (methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, etc.) or prescription drugs that have not been lawfully obtained. The penalties for both can be equally harsh.
Drug Possession – Penalties for Conviction
The level of a drug possession offense is determined initially by what drug is involved. But other enhancements based on prior convictions or location can substantially increase the penalties associated with the possession charge.
Under Utah Code 58-37-4, if the case involves a drug classified as either a Schedule I controlled substance (e.g. heroin or psilocybin mushrooms) or a Schedule II controlled substance (e.g. cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, or other opiates), then the default for the charge is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail. Charges for possession of most other controlled substances (Schedule III, Schedule IV, or Schedule V) start at the class B misdemeanor level, punishable by up to 180 days in jail.
Marijuana presents a significant exception to the “schedule” rules. Even though marijuana is classed as a Schedule I controlled substance, a charge for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana starts at the class B misdemeanor level. Charges for possessing between one and sixteen ounces of marijuana start as a class A misdemeanor, and charges for possession of more than sixteen ounces of marijuana can be filed at the felony level – even without any evidence of distribution or the intent to distribute. Although some states have legalized marijuana possession for medical use or even recreational use, prosecutors in Ogden and throughout Utah continue to file criminal charges for marijuana possession.
Ogden Drug Possession Enhancements
Although the Utah legislature has reduced the initial severity of many drug possession offenses to the misdemeanor level, prior convictions can result in felony-level enhancements. Enhancements can also be added if the offense takes place in a “drug free zone” or if a person has smuggled a controlled substance into a correctional facility. Some enhancements can also be “stacked,” resulting in more serious consequences. If a child is present or even near by, possession of a controlled substance can also result in the additional criminal charge of child endangerment.
Stakes go up substantially when police or prosecutors in Ogden believe that a person has distributed drugs, or possessed drugs “with the intent to distribute.” Distribution or possession with the intent to distribute can be filed as a second degree felony that carries with it the possibility of 1-15 years in prison. If enhanced , distribution or possession with the intent to distribute, under some circumstances, can be a first degree felony with five years to life in prison as a possible penalty.