Connecticut Drug Possession Laws & Penalties
Connecticut Drug Possession Lawyer
Connecticut drug possession laws are very serious, and the punishments can be strict. Any criminal conviction can follow you for the rest of your life and affect your future opportunities in countless ways.
Consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer who knows how to challenge drug possession charges and give you every opportunity to keep you from getting a criminal record or minimizing the penalties you may face if you plead guilty.
How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help After a Drug Possession Arrest
Having an attorney represent you after a drug possession arrest can mean the difference between prison and a second chance at a clean life. As a Connecticut criminal defense lawyer, I can advise you about whether you should speak with police. I can also review the circumstances of your case, making sure that police had reasonable suspicion to stop you or probable cause to search you. If you were subjected to a search warrant, I can also make sure that warrant was properly supported by probable cause and that police executed their search according to the terms of that warrant.
Even if the state has solid evidence to support the charges against you, I can advocate on your behalf to seek an alternative disposition of your case, working with the court to determine your eligibility for drug education and treatment programs rather than serving a sentence in prison. I’m also prepared to argue on your behalf to obtain a fair, reduced sentence under a plea agreement or upon sentencing after a conviction.
Drug Possession Penalties in Connecticut
Marijuana Possession – Penalties
Marijuana possession in Connecticut was decriminalized for quantities under half an ounce. But prosecutions for more than 1/2 ounce are still common and can be harsh.
Possession of Marijuana carries the following penalties under Connecticut law if you are found guilty:
|POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA PENALTIES||FIRST OFFENSE||SECOND OR SUBSEQUENT OFFENSE|
|UNDER 1/2 OZ||$150 fine||Up to a $500 fine|
|1/2 OZ TO 4 OZ||Up to 1 year in jail
Up to a $1000 fine
|Up to 5 years in jail
Up to a $3000 fine
|4OZ OR MORE||Up to 5 year in jail
Up to a $2000 fine
|Up to 10 years in jail
Up to a $5000 fine
See my Connecticut Marijuana possession defense page for additional details.
Hallucinogen Drugs – Penalties
Substances classified as hallucinogens under the statutes include:
- PCP/angel dust
Possession of Hallucinogenic Drugs carries with it the following penalties if you are found guilty:
|POSSESSION OF DANGEROUS HALLUCINOGENS – PENALTIES||FIRST OFFENSE||SECOND OR SUBSEQUENT OFFENSE|
|Up to 5 year in jail
Up to a $2000 fine
|Up to 10 years in jail
Up to a $5000 fine
Possession of Narcotics – Penalties
Substances classified as narcotics under the statutes include:
- Crack cocaine
Possession of Narcotics is a specific criminal drug possession class that includes, heroin, cocaine, and crack cocaine. Narcotics possession carries the stiffest possible drug possession penalties under Connecticut law. The penalties if you are found guilty are:
|POSSESSION OF NARCOTICS – PENALTIES||FIRST OFFENSE||SECOND OFFENSE||THIRD OR SUBSEQUENT OFFENSE|
|Up to 7 years in jail
Up to a $50,000 fine
|Up to 15 years in jail
Up to a $100,000 fine
|Up to 25 years in jail
Up to a $250,000 fine
All other Drug Categories – Possession Penalties
Other Connecticut Drug Possession Penalties. Possession of any other illegal controlled substance has the following penalties:
|FIRST OFFENSE||SECOND OR SUBSEQUENT OFFENSE|
|POSSESSION OF ALL OTHER DRUGS/ CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES – PENALTIES||Up to 1 year in jail
Up to a $1000 fine
|Up to 5 years in jail
Up to a $3000 fine
Possession of Drugs in a School Zone
If you are charged with possession of illegal drugs within 1500 feet of a school or day care center, there is a mandatory 2 year jail sentence for possession of drugs within a school zone, in addition to any other penalties listed here.
You can be charged with a school zone violation even if you had no idea you were in a school zone. You could be inside an apartment that happens to be next to a school, and be facing a mandatory 2 years in jail.
But there are school zone drug violation defenses. I can dispute the proximity, to a school, day care center, park, or other zone, with expert testimony. I could get an investigator to measure the distance exactly and testify to that fact in court if I believe you were outside of that legal zone.
A school zone drug possession violation, under Connecticut law, must be served consecutively with any other sentence.
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia – Penalties
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (pipes, bongs, spoons, scales, etc.) is considered a Class C Misdemeanor, with a maximum sentence of 3 months in jail.
Many common, household substances may be characterized as paraphernalia by the police. Do you have a small spoon for your espresso? Do you have a plastic sandwich bag? A bent Coke can with a hole in it? The police can easily jump to conclusions and overcharge this offense when it is unwarranted and unsupported by the facts.
Under Connecticut law, The sale of drug paraphernalia is a Class A Misdemeanor, with a maximum sentence of 1 year in jail.
What to Do If You’ve Been Arrested on a Drug Possession Charge in Connecticut
If you’ve been arrested on a drug possession charge, you should first remember to remain calm. Arguing with the police will not help you and may in fact make your situation worse, even if you are innocent.
Anything you say to police can be used against you during trial. When the police ask you questions, politely decline to answer any questions and request to speak with an attorney. Make sure your voice is loud enough to be picked up by any nearby recording devices, such as a bodycam, dashboard cam, or audio/video recording devices at the police station.
If you request to speak to an attorney, the police should stop questioning you until you’ve had an opportunity to speak with your lawyer. However, if you continue to speak with the police about your arrest while waiting for a lawyer, the police may resume questioning you.
When given the opportunity to do so, call an attorney. Do not speak to the police until you’ve discussed your arrest with an attorney, who will advise you about whether you should speak to the police and what questions you should answer.
What to Expect After a Drug Arrest in Connecticut
After your arrest for drug charges, the first thing the police will likely do is read you your Miranda rights – your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney. The police will ask you if you understand your rights and remind you that anything you say can be used against you in court.
The police may then tell you that things will be easier for you if you cooperate and answer their questions. However, you should refrain from speaking with the police until you’ve spoken to an attorney, even if you are innocent. Politely but firmly decline to answer any questions until you’ve had the chance to speak to an attorney. An attorney can help you decide whether it is better for you to answer questions from the police.
After your arrest, you will be taken to the police station, searched for contraband, photographed, fingerprinted, and placed in a jail cell. Depending on the circumstances of your arrest, the police may again attempt to ask you questions.
At some point during this process you will be given the opportunity to contact and speak with an attorney. Your attorney will also speak to the police or the prosecutor. After discussing your case with you, you and your attorney may decide it is best for you to answer questions from the police or investigators.
You may be released if you or someone on your behalf pays the bail amount set by the police, by bail staff, or by the court. The police or the court may release you without monetary bail on your promise to appear in court on your charges and to satisfy other conditions, such as remaining under certain persons’ supervision, restricting your travel, and avoiding drug use. If bail is placed on you following your arrest and is not paid, the police may continue your detention up to and through your trial.
Ultimately you will appear in court for one or more pre-trial hearings. At these hearings, the court may agree to place you in a diversionary program, in which successful completion of education and treatment programs will lead to dismissal of your charges or your sentence. Otherwise, your attorney and the state will engage in discovery, exchanging evidence related to your case. The state may offer you a deal to plead guilty in exchange for reduced charges or sentences and, potentially, for testifying on behalf of the state in other cases.
If you are not placed in a diversionary program or do not reach a plea agreement with the state, you will eventually proceed to trial on your charges. The state will be required to prove each element of your charges beyond a reasonable doubt. Your attorney will present evidence that calls the state’s evidence into question and raises reasonable doubt. If the jury agrees that there is reasonable doubt that you did not commit one or more elements of a charge, you will be found not guilty on that charge.
How to Beat Your Connecticut Drug Possession Charge
There are a wide variety of ways to fight and win a drug possession criminal case in Connecticut. A common successful tactic is to challenge the search and file a motion of illegal search and seizure. The police do not have the right to search your person, car or home without a warrant, or a reasonable suspicion that you might be in possession of illegal drugs. If they do so, the results of the search must be thrown out, and the case dismissed.
For minor charges, such as a first offense possession of marijuana charge, the prosecution will often agree to a “nolle” or nolo prosequi, which means “no prosecution.” The terms of a nolle are the prosecutor drops the case, and if you do not get charged with another crime in the next 13 months, the charge is dropped and removed from the court records. If you do get in trouble during that 13 months, the prosecutor can refile the original charge, and the consequences may be much more serious.
In many drug cases there are other alternative dispositions available for 1st offense drug possession charges, such as drug education and community service labor program. The drug education and community service labor program involves working for at least 2 and up to 30 days on projects such as cleaning up trash in the community. You can usually pick your own community service. I can discuss these and work out a deal that you can live with, and that will give you a chance to get your charges dismissed after you are able to complete these programs.
These are just a few examples of how I might defend drug possessions charges, but it really depends on the facts of the case. Call me for a consultation, and I’ll let you know what I can do for you.
Drug Treatment and Diversionary Programs in CT
The state of Connecticut offers two programs for drug-involved offenders. Under the first program, courts may refer someone charged with possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia to the pretrial drug education and community service program. An offender is generally ineligible for this program if they’ve previously participated on two prior occasions, but can be allowed to participate a third time upon a showing of good cause. In this program, participants must complete a 15-session drug education program, a substance abuse treatment program with at least 15 sessions, and community service.
A second, separate program allows courts to order drug-dependent offenders into treatment. Offenders are ineligible for this program if they are charged with any DUI offense, second-degree assault or manslaughter with a motor vehicle, or a class A, B, or C felony, or if they have been already been through the program on two previous occasions. If a drug-dependent offender has already been sentenced, the court may still suspend all or part of the sentence and impose probation with participation in the program as a condition of probation.
In both programs, if the participant successfully completes the program, the court will dismiss the charges against the participant. Under the second program, if the participant also refrains from drug use for two consecutive years, the court can modify the participant’s sentence or probation terms, or terminate probation.
Contact a Connecticut Drug Possession Attorney Now for a Consultation!
If you’ve been arrested and charged with drug possession in Connecticut, contact me, Erin Field, for immediate assistance. Exercise your right to remain silent until you have consulted with me. I have a 100% success rate for first-time offenders.