If you have been charged with possession of a controlled substance in the State of Nebraska you are undoubtedly concerned about the outcome of your case. Anymore, a criminal conviction for any offense can have long-lasting and far-reaching negative ramifications. A drug-related conviction, however, can be particularly problematic as prospective employers or landlords will often disqualify an applicant automatically if they have a drug-related criminal conviction. Furthermore, certain state and federal benefit programs will also disqualify an applicant for some drug-related criminal convictions. If you are facing criminal charges for possession of a controlled substance, you probably have a number of questions about your charges, the potential penalties you face if convicted, and about the criminal justice system in general. Because every prosecution is unique, only an experienced Nebraska criminal defense attorney can answer specific questions regarding your case; however, an Omaha drug possession lawyer has offered to provide answers to five of the most common and/or important questions relating to prosecutions for drug possession in Nebraska.
- What factors will impact the potential penalties I face if convicted? While there are statutory maximum and minimum (in some cases) terms of imprisonment if convicted of possession of a controlled substance, there are also several important factors that will impact the sentence you face, including:
- The type of controlled substance. (Marijuana laws, for example, tend to be more lenient than laws relating to possession of cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine)
- The quantity of controlled substance involved. Simple possession will not subject to the same penalties as possession of an amount large enough to indicate dealing.
- Your own criminal history (or lack thereof). Some criminal offenses can be aggravated by the existence of a previous conviction for the same, or similar, offense. In addition, the more felony convictions you rack up the harsher the potential penalties become. Conversely, if you have a clean criminal record you may be eligible for a lighter sentence or even a diversion program.
- Aggravating circumstances – such as committing the crime close to a school, involving a minor, or carrying a firearm during the commission of the crime.
- What is constructive possession? There are actually two types of “possession” – actual and constructive. Actual possession requires the suspect to have physical control over the contraband. Constructive possession is intended to cover situations wherein the police believe contraband belongs to an individual but was not found directly on the individual’s person. The most commonly used definition for constructive possession requires the State to prove that the defendant had “knowledge of the item in question and had the intent to maintain dominion and control over the item.”
- How much jail time could I get for a conviction for possession of a controlled substance? It depends on the type of controlled substance and quantity involved; however, the following is an example involving the possession of cocaine:
- Up to 10 grams – up to five years in prison
- At least 10 grams but less than 28 grams – Class ID felony – punishable by a mandatory three in prison and up to 50 years in prison.
- At least 28 grams but less than 140 grams – Class IC felony – punishable by a mandatory five years in prison and up to 50 years in prison.
- 140 grams or more – Class IB felony – punishable by a minimum of 20 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison.
- Are the penalties for possession of marijuana as harsh as the penalties for other drugs? Possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, for example, is charged as an infraction for a first offense and there is no possibility of being sentenced to jail at all if convicted. Furthermore, possession of marijuana only becomes a felony offense if the quantity involved is more than one pound, at which time the charge becomes a Class IV felony, punishable by up to two years in prison.
- The police searched me/my vehicle/my home without a warrant and found the drugs. Isn’t that illegal? It depends. Although the 4th Amendment protects against unreasonable searches and seizures, the protection afforded by the Amendment have been watered down over the years by the courts. Now, the police can often conduct a legal search of your person or vehicle without a warrant; however, a warrantless search of your home may have been illegal unless one of the exceptions to the warrant requirement applied to the search.
Contact an Omaha Drug Possession Lawyer at Petersen Law Office
If you have been charged with possession of a controlled substance in the State of Nebraska, consult with an experienced Nebraska drug crimes lawyer as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are protected. In Nebraska contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law 24 hours a day at 402-509-8070 to discuss your case.