Missouri Drug Laws
Missouri drug possession and trafficking (distribution) laws include four major areas:
- Delivery of a controlled substance which includes distributing or delivering a controlled substance, attempting to do so, possessing with the intent to do so, or permitting a minor to purchase or transport a controlled substance.
- Distribution of a controlled substance in, on, or within a specified distance from a protected location, including schools, parks, or public housing.
- Unlawful distribution, delivery, sale, or possession with intent to do so of drug paraphernalia, including broadly anything that would be used in the manufacture, packaging, and ingesting of a controlled substance.
- Knowingly possessing any controlled substance, including marijuana.
Controlled substances are classified into five schedules, Schedule I through Schedule V. The lower the schedule number, the higher the potential for abuse and physical or psychological dependence. For example, Schedule I substances have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use in treatment in the U.S. or lack accepted safety for use in treatment under medical supervision. Schedule V substances have a low potential for abuse relative to Schedule IV substances, current accepted medical use in treatment in the U.S., and limited physical and psychological dependence liability relative to Schedule IV substances.
Possible Penalties and What to Expect
In general, federal drug trafficking penalties are harsher than convictions under state law. Under state and federal law, the lower the schedule number, the greater the penalties if convicted, and possession of a small amount of drugs for personal use results in milder penalties than those for trafficking. In any case, penalties are increasingly more severe for repeat offenders.
For example, in Missouri, trafficking (distribution) is a Class B felony that could result in up to 15 years in prison. Traffic it within 2,000 feet of a school and it becomes a Class A felony, punishable by life in prison or up to 30 years. A conviction for distribution of even less than five grams of marijuana is punishable by up to seven years in prison.
Possession of 10 grams of marijuana or less is a misdemeanor with no jail time and a $500 fine. But a second offense could land you in jail for up to one year and incur a $2,000 fine.
How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
Drug charges are matters of degree, based on both the action (possession versus trafficking) and on the type of controlled substances involved (Schedule V versus Schedule I). It’s complicated. And that’s why you need a highly experienced criminal defense attorney who knows how to take the unique set of circumstances in your case and present them in a manner that garners the best result for you.
A good criminal defense attorney will explore multiple avenues to prove innocence, get charges reduced, or in some cases, get charges dropped altogether. At the Gartner Law Firm, we’ve been dedicated to providing the best criminal defense for clients arrested or being investigated for drug crimes for nearly 30 years.