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How drug charges and penalties are determined

A conviction involving illegal drugs can result in punishments like fines and prison time. The consequences don't stop there -- having a criminal record can affect a Kansas City, Kansas, defendant for life. The severity of drug charges depends upon the quantity of drugs seized, the intended purpose for the drug and the drug's harm potential, according to federal and state laws.

Drugs are divided into five classes or "schedules" under the federal Controlled Substances Act, created in 1970 to consolidate hundreds of federal drug laws. Drug laws enacted separately by individual states must be in accordance with federal laws. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration oversees manufacturing and distribution of the drugs, investigates illegal activities and controls which drugs are included in the schedules.

Schedule I controlled substances are considered the most dangerous with the least benefits to human health. Therefore, charges and penalties attached to these substances are the most severe. Although lawmakers in many states have decriminalized marijuana, the drug remains alongside heroin and other "street drugs" at the top of the DEA list.

In descending order, the drugs in Schedules II through V are considered less harmful than Schedule I drugs. Cocaine is a Schedule II drug, while anabolic steroids fall under Schedule III. Xanax is included in the Schedule IV category and Lyrica, an anti-seizure medication, is ranked as a Schedule V drug.

Drug charges also are divided by quantity. Seizure of a personal stash of marijuana may result in a drug possession charge. Penalties rise significantly when defendants are convicted of making or selling drugs illegally. Seizure of a greater quantity of marijuana can invite an intent to distribute charge.

A strong legal defense is necessary to fight any allegations connected to illegal drugs. Criminal defense attorneys defend an accused person's civil rights and work toward every possible reduction of charges or punishments to improve a client's legal outcome.

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Overland Park, KS 66212

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