*** Please note that Utah’s legislature has made significant changes to relevant statutes since this page was originally published. Contact us directly for information and recommendations for your specific circumstances. ***
A conviction for drug possession in Utah carries potential penalties including prison or jail time and thousands of dollars in fines. Based in Salt Lake City, criminal defense attorney Stephen Howard provides legal services to clients facing criminal charges in Park City and Summit County, as well as throughout Utah. He has extensive experience defending drug crimes in Utah. He has successfully protected his clients’ rights in cases ranging from first-degree felony drug distribution to misdemeanor marijuana possession. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.
Drug Possession Penalties in Utah
The penalties for drug charges in Utah can range from simple probation to extended prison terms. The sentence imposed by a court can depend on a variety of factors, including the type of drug involved, the amount of drug involved, the location at which the offense occurred, whether there were indications of drug distribution, the defendant’s past criminal record, the defendant’s past or current involvement in drug treatment, and more.
Most common street drugs (other than marijuana) and most commonly abused prescription medications are classified as either Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substances under Utah Code Ann. 58-37-4 (e.g. cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, heroin, other opiates, or psilocybin mushrooms). A simple possession charge of one of these Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substances, regardless of the amount, begins as a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. With enhancements, the penalties can be substantially higher.
Marijuana presents an important exception to the “Schedule” rules. Although marijuana is legally considered to be a Schedule I controlled substance, Utah law provides that the level of a marijuana possession offense will be based the amount of marijuana possessed. A possession charge for less than one ounce of marijuana begins at the class B misdemeanor level. Amounts between one and sixteen ounces be]gin at the class A misdemeanor level. A felony level charge can be filed for possession of more than sixteen ounces of marijuana, even without evidence that the defendant had any intent to distribute the marijuana.
Prosecution for possession of most other controlled substances (Schedule III, Schedule IV, or Schedule V) begins at the class B misdemeanor level.
Enhanced Charges for Utah Drug Possession
Drug possession charges in Utah can be enhanced (the penalties increased) based on prior convictions of a defendant, possession within a drug free zone, or possession within a correctional facility (typically a jail or prison). A prosecuting attorney may add multiple enhancements if the facts of the case support such enhancements. This can result in substantially higher penalties for a drug possession charge.
Other charges related to drug possession can also increase the potential penalties involved in a Utah drug crimes case. Child endangerment charges can be filed if it is determined that a child was exposed to or had access to the controlled substance in question. Distribution charges or possession with the intent to distribute be filed in cases where drugs were either intended to be or actually were sold, given, traded, or otherwise distributed. The penalties for such charges can be substantial.
Finding a Criminal Attorney in Utah
Stephen Howard is an experienced Utah criminal defense attorney. Based in Salt Lake City, he provides criminal defense services to clients facing charges in Park City, Summit County, and throughout Utah. His track record includes not guilty verdicts, dismissals, and appellate reversals in some of the most serious charges on the books in Utah. He is one of a few criminal attorneys in private practice with experience working inside Utah’s felony drug court system.
Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.