Being accused of a drug crime can range in severity and impact depending on the situation. Some accusations of drug crimes are more mild, such as possession of paraphernalia or contraband, and some more serious, like intent to distribute.
Understanding what you or a loved one may be charged with in connection to a drug crime is the key to understanding what to do next. Since drugs are governed by both state and federal law, these laws could come into play in how a person charged with a drug crime approaches the situation. Being accused of having paraphernalia is a much less serious drug crime than drug trafficking, for example. Beyond that, a paraphernalia charge is often prosecuted by state law, while drug trafficking can move into the federal law arena, especially if there are accusations that drugs were sold over state lines.
Often, a person may be arrested in connection with drug possession. That means contraband was on a person or in their property (like a vehicle) if it was found during a traffic stop. Possession is a much less serious crime than possession with intent to distribute. This means that a person had quantities or separate amounts that appear to have been arranged to sell the drug.
Convicted drug dealers are often punished more severely than are convicted drug users. Under the law, this is because drug dealers are seen as profiting off of other's drug use. However, it isn't unusual or unheard of for drug users to be handed down punishments in connection with the 'three-strike' rule. This means if it is a third drug-related conviction, that person could be facing much more serious consequences than they did in the first and second convictions. If you are facing drug charges, you may wish to discuss your case with an attorney who can help you formulate a criminal defense strategy.
Source: FindLaw, "Types of Drug Crimes," Accessed Dec 18, 2017