Drug charges in Indiana can carry stiff federal and state penalties, whether they are related to possession, dealing or manufacturing. The recent National Drug Take Back Day in Indianapolis highlights the overwhelming presence of discarded legal drugs in the state, not to mention drugs—specifically marijuana– that are considered legal in a majority of states outside of Indiana.
The key to making drug possession charges stick varies from state to state, but for a conviction to occur, the prosecution must establish some basic elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- that the accused knew the drug was illegal and
- that he was in possession of it.
Drug possession penalties in Indiana
Because Indiana has aggressively fought drug possession for some time, its penalties are strict and depend on the type of drug and the amount found in possession.
Cocaine and methamphetamine, as well as heroin and other Schedule I drugs, carry Class A to D felonies, depending on a classification of less than or more than three grams and how close to school property. Even marijuana possession can carry a Class D felony if it is over 30 grams.
If convicted, the penalties carry fines of up to $10,000 and six months to three years in prison for a Class D felony. For a Class A felony, including School Zone Enhancement, it is 20 to 50 years in prison, plus up to $10,000 in fines.
Defenses to drug possession
The prosecution must prove that the accused knew that the drug in question is a controlled substance and that they knew it was in their possession, with in some cases a related category that they had the intent to distribute it.
There are a number of possible defenses against accusations of drug possession:
- Unlawful search and seizure prior to arrest, protected under the Fourth Amendment
- Not enough evidence that the substance actually belonged to the accused and that they were aware that it was in their possession
- Tainted crime lab analysis,
- Evidence, usually the drugs, that were lost in transit
- Entrapment or planted drugs
If you are charged with a drug-related crime, it is essential to get experienced representation that can make sure your rights are protected from over-zealous prosecutors.
Don’t forget, in this country the accused is innocent until proven guilty.