Washington Drug Laws
If you’re convicted on drug charges, your life may never be the same. Along with possible incarceration and financial penalties, drug charges can affect your future ability to secure housing, gain employment, and your ability to receive or keep some government benefits.
Under federal and state laws, it’s a crime to willfully possess certain illegal, controlled substances along with chemicals and paraphernalia used in making and consuming the drugs. Drug charges can range from simple possession to selling, distributing or manufacturing drugs.
For individuals charged with a drug crime in Washington, the legal process can be stressful, and the consequences can be severe. It’s critical to work with a qualified criminal defense attorney with extensive experience in Washington to ensure that your rights are protected. Your criminal defense attorney can help you understand the law and your legal options.
Marijuana Laws in Washington
In Washington, possession and recreational use of marijuana are legal for amounts up to 1 ounce. However, the state has laws against individuals growing marijuana plants. Consuming marijuana in public places is illegal and can result in a civil penalty of up to $100. Possessing more than an ounce of marijuana is a criminal act that can result in fines and jail time. In addition, it’s illegal for people younger than 21 to possess marijuana in any amount.
Possessing more than 40 grams of marijuana can result in a felony charge punishable by incarceration of up to five years and a fine up to $10,000. Subsequent offenses can carry double those penalties. Possession of amounts between 1 ounce and 40 grams is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days of incarceration.
The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board regulates the sale of marijuana, including zoning ordinances and other rules for retail sales. Legal marijuana sellers are not allowed to locate their businesses within 1,000 feet of elementary schools, libraries and other facilities that cater to children. Incorporating marijuana sales into another type of business also is prohibited.
Washington also has legalized the medical use of marijuana for patients who gain the proper approvals. Individuals who are eligible for medical marijuana use are allowed to possess up to 24 ounces and can grow as many as 15 plants.
Possession of any illegal drug other than marijuana in Washington may result in a felony charge, regardless of the amount of the drug possessed. The law applies to illegal drugs including cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, methamphetamines, illegal prescription drugs and others. If you are caught with any amount of these substances, you’ll may be charged with a Class C felony, which can result in fines of as much as $10,000 and up to five years in prison.
Washington law categorizes cocaine as a narcotic drug; a charge of manufacturing, delivering or possessing with the intent to sell the drug is a Class B felony, which can result in punishment of up to 10 years in prison, along with a fine of up to $25,000.
How Drug Charges Are Prosecuted
If you’re charged with a drug-related crime in Washington, don’t panic. An experienced defense attorney can assist you in exploring your options and will work hard to achieve the best possible outcome for you.
Alternatives to Incarceration
If you’re convicted on a drug charge, your defense attorney may be able to have you accepted into a program providing alternatives to incarceration. Washington state offers two types of programs to avoid incarceration — first-time offender waivers and Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative, or DOSA. Your criminal record and the specifics of your case factor into whether you’ll be accepted.
An alternative program may require that you undergo drug treatment, participate in community service and serve probation. If you comply, you may be able to avoid jail time or even have the charges against you dismissed.
Work with an Experienced Defense Attorney
Lawyer Julie A. Twyford offers knowledgeable guidance and aggressive defense in every case she handles. Whether you are charged with misdemeanor possession or are facing federal felony charges, you will get the professional advice and strong advocacy you need to protect your rights.
In federal court, the mandatory-minimum sentencing guidelines for drug crimes are severe. Depending on the quantity of drugs involved in your case, you could be facing years in prison, fines and forfeiture of any property connected to the illegal activity. We will analyze the evidence from every angle to ensure that you get the strongest possible defense. If there is a flaw in the case against you, we will find it.
If you’re arrested on drug charges, it’s important to work with a qualified and experienced criminal defense attorney in your area. To schedule a phone consultation, please contact Twyford Law Office at (855) 980-0678.