Colorado may have been one of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana, but the state maintains harsh criminal penalties for the possession or distribution of all other narcotics. In fact, you can even get into trouble with marijuana if you are underage or possess the drug with the intent to sell it. However, just because you’ve been charged with a Fort Collins drug crime doesn’t mean you actually committed a crime and certainly doesn’t mean you’ll be found guilty. At the law firm of Gerash Steiner & Blanton, P.C., our Fort Collins drug crimes attorneys have more than 30 years of experience standing up for the rights of good people charged with serious crimes. We will do everything possible to ensure that your arrest has as little impact on your future as possible.
What Is a Drug Charge?
Drug charges in Colorado range from relatively minor charges, such as possession, to serious felony offenses, including selling or manufacturing drugs. Other than marijuana, it is against the law to possess any controlled substance without a valid prescription. While the list of prohibited drugs is very long, some of the most commonly targeted narcotics include:
- Oxycodone and Oxycontin,
- Xanax, and
As you can see, the list includes both “street” drugs and prescription medications. While it is not against the law to have a controlled substance with a prescription, the prescription must be in your name and must be current. Otherwise, you can be charged with either drug possession or drug selling.
What Is Drug Possession?
Drug possession is the name given to the crime of having illegal drugs on you or under your control. In this context, “possession” isn’t limited to what’s in your pockets or in the glove box of your car; courts will consider the totality of the circumstances when assessing whether you “possessed” drugs.
What Is Considered Selling Drugs?
In Colorado, it is a serious drug crime to sell, manufacture or dispense a controlled substance. Again, the terms “sell” and “dispense” are given broad meanings, and the government does not need to prove that you actually sold drugs to convict you of these crimes. Instead, the court will consider the surrounding circumstances to determine whether the evidence suggests you possessed the drugs with the intent to sell or dispense them. For example, the following facts are especially relevant when you’re facing drug-selling charges.
- Did you have more drugs on you than one person could use?
- Did you have several different types of drugs on you?
- Did you have any way to consume the drugs in your possession?
- Did you make any relevant statements to the police?
- Did you have scales, unused baggies, or other indicia of a drug-selling operation?
Depending on how these facts shake out, prosecutors might be able to charge and convict you of selling or dispensing drugs—even if you didn’t actually make any sales.
Sentences for Drug Crimes in Fort Collins
The punishments for a drug crime conviction in Colorado vary widely and depend primarily on whether you were convicted of simple possession, as opposed to possession with the intent to sell drugs. Your criminal history also matters.
Unlike some other states, Colorado does not impose mandatory minimum sentences for most drug convictions. Therefore, if you are convicted of a first-time drug possession offense, chances are good that you will be spared a jail sentence in favor of mandatory treatment.
For example, in 2020, a new law went into effect, making most drug possession offenses of 4 grams or less a level 1 drug misdemeanor. The exceptions are if you possessed GHB or have three prior drug convictions. If so, the offense will be graded as a level 4 drug felony.
Penalties by Offense Level
In terms of drug distribution charges, the penalties are much more severe. However, again, the penalty you face will depend on the “schedule” and the amount of the drug you possessed. Colorado has seven different grades of drug offenses.
- Level 1 Drug Felonies—Punishable by 8 years to 32 years in prison and fines of $5,000 to $1,000,000.
- Level 2 Drug Felonies—Punishable by 4 years to 8 years in prison and fines of $3,000 to $750,000.
- Level 3 Drug Felonies—Punishable by 2 years to 4 years in prison and fines of $2,000 to $500,000.
- Level 4 Drug Felonies—Punishable by 6 months to 1 year in prison and fines of $1,000 to $100,000.
- Level 1 Drug Misdemeanors—Punishable by 6 to 18 months in county jail and $500 to $5,000 in fines.
- Level 2 Drug Misdemeanors—Punishable by up to 12 months in county jail and $50 to $750 in fines.
- Drug Petty Offenses—Punishable by a fine of up to $100 and possibly up to 24 hours of community service.
Keep in mind that even a seemingly minor drug crime could potentially have a long-term impact on your future, including your ability to get a job, go back to school, or own a firearm. The drug charge attorneys at Gerash Steiner Blanton, P.C. can help defend you against drug charges at any level.
Defenses to Drug Crimes
Like other criminal offenses, there are many defenses to drug crimes. Some of the most common defenses include the following:
- The drugs were not yours, and you never had control over them;
- Whatever you possessed were not the drugs the government claims them to be;
- Police officers violated your rights when conducting a search or seizure; and
- If charged with distribution, a valid defense is that the drugs you possessed were for personal use only.
The experienced Fort Collins drug offense attorneys at Gerash Steiner Blanton, P.C. can help you determine what the best possible defense is in your case.
Contact Our Drug Charge Lawyers in Fort Collins
If you were recently arrested and charged with a drug crime, contact the dedicated Fort Collins drug crimes lawyers at Gerash Steiner Blanton, P.C., to schedule a free consultation. For more than 30 years, we’ve proudly represented individuals facing serious drug crimes, helping them fight the accusations against them. We aggressively defend clients in all types of drug offenses, including those involving possession, sales, trafficking, and distribution. To learn more and to schedule a free consultation, give us a call at 303-830-0630 today. You can also connect with us through our online contact form, and one of our Fort Collins drug offense lawyers will contact you soon.