Drug charges include simple possession, manufacturing and distribution. Because drug charges cover such a wide range of conduct, a drug charge can be a petty offense, a misdemeanor or serious felony.
Even low level drug possession charges, such as possession of marijuana, can have significant consequences. For example, a drug conviction of any kind may prevent you from getting a job, receiving student financial aid and even college admittance. When a person is charged with manufacturing or possession with intent to distribute, the consequences are more severe. The level of the drug charge is determined by a number of factors, including the type and amount of drug at issue.
Colorado has enacted several changes to its drug laws. One of the most significant changes is the legalization of recreational marijuana. It is important to know when marijuana is legal and when it is still illegal. First, you must be 21 or older to have any amount of recreational marijuana. If you are under 21, it is still illegal to possess or use marijuana with the exception of medical marijuana. It is also still illegal to drive while impaired or under the influence of marijuana regardless of age. A medical marijuana card does not provide a defense to driving under the influence either. If you are 21 or over, then you may use and possess certain amounts of recreational marijuana. It is still illegal, without the proper permission, to cultivate and distribute marijuana. The law in this area is new and constantly changing, so if you believe you were complying with the law and have been charged with a marijuana related crime, our attorneys may be able to help you communicate your situation.
Drug Charge Classifications
In addition to legalizing recreational marijuana, Colorado has also changed the classification of different drug charges. Drug charges used to be classified as petty offenses, misdemeanors and felonies, just like any other type of criminal charge. Now, drug charges are classified separately, so a certain type of drug charge may be called a “drug class 4 felony.” This change in the law has afforded people charged with certain types of crimes the opportunity to avoid some of the felony level consequences for drug charges. For example, a person charged with a drug felony, whether due to plea or a conviction at trial, has the opportunity to avoid a felony conviction if the person can successfully complete a community based sentence, meaning probation or community corrections. Upon successful completion, the felony conviction will be vacated and a conviction for a class one misdemeanor will be entered as a conviction. This only applies to certain drug felonies and certain circumstances. If you have been charged with a drug felony, our attorneys will be able to assess whether you can take advantage of these changes in the law.