Posted on Aug 19, 2012 7:40am PDT
A recent traffic stop in southern Alabama resulted in the discovery of approximately 100 pounds of marijuana.
Birmingham criminal defense lawyers know that in the wake of failed efforts to legalize marijuana in Alabama for medical purposes, officials continue to crack down on everything from trafficking to personal use.
The penalties for this vary depending on the amount of the drug you are in possession of and what your intention was with it.
Marijuana is considered a Schedule I narcotic. These are substances that the government identifies as having a high capacity for abuse and no medically-accepted purpose. Despite the fact that a number of states have approved the drug for medical use, and doctors prescribe it for everything from glaucoma to chronic pain, marijuana is lumped in with LSD, ecstasy and heroin. It carries a more serious penalty than even cocaine, which is considered a Schedule II narcotic.
If you are caught with a smaller amount, it is considered a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a $6,000 fine. You'll also lose your driver's license for six months. If you are possessing it for any reason other than personal use, it's considered a felony, with a mandatory minimum of a year in jail, and up to 10 years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
Sale, trafficking or intent to sell are far more serious. These are all considered felonies. If you sell to a minor, you could potentially be facing up to life in prison. Selling near a school will also garner you a stiffer penalty than sales anywhere else.
With trafficking, penalties go by the amount you were caught with. Anything from 2.2 to 100 pounds is going to be a minimum mandatory 3 years in prison. Between 100 and 500 pounds, that minimum is raised to five years. Between 500 and 1,000 pounds, it's a minimum of 15 years. That's just the lowest possible - you could be sentenced to up to 99 years in prison.
We don't spell this out here to scare you, but it is important for you to understand the seriousness of what you've been charged with. It's also critical in cases like this that you make no statements to police regarding your alleged actions without first consulting with your defense attorney. This is for two reasons:
- To protect yourself from other drug dealers.
- To protect the viability of your defense.
It's possible that prosecutors may grant you a plea deal in exchange for your testimony against higher-ups in the trafficking ring. In some cases, this will be your best chance at freedom - and you don't want to jeopardize those chances by giving them all the information up front without any negotiation with respect to your own sentence. Plus, you could simply be giving them more information with which to convict you.
In this case, the arrestee was a 58-year-old Ohio man. Following his arrest, he was held in county jail on $1 million bond.
He was reportedly in a vehicle with a license tag that did not match the vehicle. What caught the attention of troopers was reportedly several illegal lane changes.
The marijuana, which was reportedly discovered in a duffel bag, had a street value of about $100,000.
Officers later commented that the most they usually get out of any traffic stop is perhaps 20 pounds of marijuana or less, so they consider this to be a significant arrest.
If you have been arrested for a drug crime in Birmingham, contact Birmingham Drug Crime Defense Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.