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Drug possession in Connecticut carries varying penalties

People facing drug charges in Connecticut may be dealing with a array of possible charges and potential penalties. These penalties for personal drug possession can depend on a number of issues, including the type of drug, the amount possessed, where the possession took place and whether the charge is a first offense.

This vast difference in potential penalties is well-illustrated when comparing a first offense for possession with three or more convictions for narcotics possession. In the first case of drug charges for a small amount of marijuana, the penalty is a $150 fine. For a second offense, a defendant could face up to 25 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. All drug charges are generally subject to an enhancement if they take place within 1,500 feet of a school or day care center.

Carrying under half an ounce of cannabis is not considered a crime, but an infraction. A first offense carries a $150 fine, with subsequent offenses carrying fines of $200 to $500. A person's driver's license could be suspended for 60 days as well. Because this is an infraction, it must be proven only by a preponderance of evidence rather than beyond a reasonable doubt.

However, marijuana possession above one-half ounce but below 4 ounces sees criminal penalties that are significantly higher. A first offense could carry a one-year prison term and a $1,000 fine. Subsequent offenses are classified as class D felonies with up to a five-year prison term and a $5,00 fine. Alternative sentencing guidelines are also available. Penalties continue to escalate for higher quantities or possession of other types of drugs.

Anyone facing drug charges in Connecticut may want to consult with a criminal defense lawyer. Drug possession charges or drug convictions can have a serious impact on various aspects of life, including employment, education and other collateral effects. A criminal defense lawyer can discuss options with defendants and help protect their rights.

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