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Penalty for Heroin Possession in Utah - Criminal Attorney

If I am charged with heroin possession in Utah, what are the potential penalties?

A charge for possession of heroin in Utah begins at the third-degree felony level with potential penalties of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 plus a 90% surcharge. In some circumstances, enhancements can apply that can increase the potential sentence to a possible life prison term. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney can be vital to giving you the best chance of avoiding these serious consequences.

Based in Salt Lake City, criminal attorney Stephen Howard has successfully protected his clients' rights in thousands of serious felony and misdemeanor cases. He has the experience necessary to help you achieve the best results. Contact us today to arrange for an initial consultation.

The following are some of the more common circumstances that can increase the penalties for heroin possession in Utah.

Possession of Heroin in a Drug-Free Zone Penalties

Utah Heroin Possession AttorneyUtah law provides a broad definition of a drug free-zone. If you are in one of Utah's more urban counties (Salt Lake, Davis, Utah, or Weber), the odds are very good that you may unintentionally find yourself within a drug-free zone. Even in more rural counties, most of even the smaller towns or more heavily populated areas of the counties may still contain a drug-free zone.

The list of areas designated as drug-free zones in Utah includes schools, churches, shopping malls, parks, parking lots, libraries, and more. The areas designated as drug-free zones also include all areas within 1000 feet of any of these locations.

If you are caught with heroin in a drug-free zone, the potential level of the criminal charge increases to the second-degree felony level. This increases the potential prison penalty from a maximum of five years to a potential maximum of 15 years in prison.

Distribution or Possession with the Intent to Distribute Heroin

Utah law treats actual distribution of a controlled substance and possession with the intent to distribute in essentially the same manner. Both charges begin at the second-degree felony level, with potential penalties including up to 15 years in prison.

In order to support a charge of distributing heroin, police and prosecutors must obtain evidence that the defendant actually distributed the drug. The evidence does not need to show that the defendant was a "dealer" or that he had sold the drugs for money. Instead, any distribution (even just sharing a little bit with a friend) can potentially meet the elements of the charge.

A charge for possession of heroin with the intent to distribute does not require proof that the defendant actually distributed any drugs. Instead, this charge only requires proof that the defendant planned to or had the intent to commit an act that constitutes distribution. Evidence to support this charge often includes the quantity of heroin possessed (more than would be normal for "personal use"), the way the drugs are packaged (lots of individual balloons or baggies), pay-owe sheets, scales, recorded phone calls or text messages, or admissions by a defendant to the police.

Penalties for Distribution of Heroin in a Drug-Free Zone

A charge for distribution of heroin or possessing heroin with the intent to distribute begins at the second-degree felony level. But if prosecutors and police can prove that the crime occurred within the 1000-foot radius of a drug-free zone, the level of the offense can be enhanced to the first-degree felony level.

As a first-degree felony, a distribution charge within a drug-free zone carries a potential maximum sentence of up to life in prison.

Defenses to Heroin Charges in Utah

Mounting an effective defense to a heroin possession or distribution charge in Utah can require a thorough understanding of the law. Constitution rights under the Fourth Amendment or Fifth Amendment are often involved, and may result in the suppression of evidence vital to the prosecutor's case. Constructive possession defense issues can often be critical in cases where the drugs were not found in the defendant's immediate possession. Knowledge and intent are both elements of theses criminal charges that can sometimes be successfully contested in raising a defense.

The procedural rules, statutes, and relevant case law involved in Utah drug cases are complex. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side can be vital to the success of your case.

Finding a Drug Defense Lawyer in Salt Lake City, Utah

Utah Criminal Defense AttorneyBased in Salt Lake City, Stephen Howard is an experienced criminal defense attorney with extensive experience defending drug cases in Utah. He has successfully protected his clients' rights in cases ranging from first-degree felony distribution to misdemeanor marijuana possession.

If you have been charged with a drug crime in Utah, contact us today to see what Mr. Howard can do for you.

Can I be charged with drug possession if someone else claims the drugs?
Can I be charged with drug distribution if I never sold drugs?
Can I be charged with drug possession just for failing a drug test?

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  • Criminal Defense AttorneyDismissed - Contractor was charged with theft by deception for allegedly misusing customer funds and failing to complete work that had been agreed upon. A successful motion to quash on legal grounds following the bindover order at preliminary hearing resulted in a complete dismissal of all charges.
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Serving Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Utah, Cache, Tooele, Summit, Box Elder, and Wasatch Counties, and all of Utah.

Attorney Stephen Howard practices as part of the Canyons Law Group, LLC and Stephen W. Howard, PC.

Offices in Salt Lake and Davis Counties
560 South 300 East, Suite 200, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
952 S. Main St., Suite A, Layton, UT 84041

Call now to arrange for a confidential initial consultation with an experienced and effective Utah criminal defense lawyer.

In Salt Lake City, call 801-449-1409.
In Davis County, call 801-923-4345.

Stephen W. Howard, PC

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