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Drug Charges

Do First Time Drug Offenders Go To Jail

Do First-Time Drug Offenders Go To Jail?

Determining if you will go to jail on a first drug arrest depends on many factors.

So you’re wondering, “do first time drug offenders go to jail”? Chances are, if you are arrested in cities like Shreveport and New Orleans, Louisiana, on a drug charge, you could face jail time, even if it is your first drug offense.

That being said, there are plenty of examples where first-time offenders do not serve time in jail. Let’s discuss what a drug charge means in the state and also what to do to help your chances of avoiding time spent in lockup. 

Difference Between Marijuana and All Other Drugs

Whether you will go to jail for drug charges depends heavily on what type of drugs we are talking about. For those that don’t know marijuana in today’s society, it is clearly defined differently than all other “hard” drugs including prescription, cocaine, methamphetamine, and other hard drugs.  Since 1991, the state of Louisiana has allowed the medical use of marijuana. 

Recreational use of marijuana, considered illegal across the entire state, was decriminalized in 2015 to either a $300 fine or 15 days in jail. So, at a maximum, you could spend a couple of weeks in jail if you don’t have the money to pay the fine. 

Hard drugs are much different in Louisiana and not taken as lightly as marijuana at the moment. Let’s take a deeper look into what you can do to minimize your risk of jail time if caught with these hard drugs for the first time. 

TIP: If caught up in drug charges in New Orleans, hire an experienced New Orleans criminal defense attorney such as Barkemeyer Law Firm.

What First-Time Offenders Can Do to Help Their Case

If caught with a possession charge of a drug other than marijuana, you can count on going to jail and processed before being officially charged and arraigned by a judge. The point now is to make bail and know what to do, to help prevent spending any time in jail or prison in the future. 

Use Your Right To Remain Silent

If arrested for drug possession, the worst thing you can do is say something that will allow the prosecution to charge you with the manufacturing or distribution of the drug in question. Remember, anything you say can be used against you in court. Making and selling drugs is a more serious charge than simple possession. Don’t help the state prosecute your case by giving them what they need. If convicted of distributing drugs, your chances of avoiding jail will decrease dramatically.

Note: Having a sizeable amount of drugs in your possession can also mean that you are distributing, in the eyes of the court system. Keep this in mind if arrested with more than simple possession of drugs as you could be facing drug distribution charges.

will I go to jail?

Contact an Experienced Lawyer

Outside of not talking yourself into a higher charge, this next decision you make can have an impact if you spend time in jail after conviction or not. That next choice should be to call a criminal defense law firm that is experienced in defending drug cases. By doing so, you are helping your chances of avoiding jail time. 

Don’t Fight During an Arrest

Many people who have been charged with drug possession and have gone on to spend time in jail or prison were also charged with resisting arrest or worse. When faced with arrest for a drug offense, fighting the arrest will only make it harder for you to make the court understand you deserve a second chance. 

Resisting arrest and fighting the police will only add to your troubles and enhance any first-time drug charges you may be facing. 

Being a First-Time Drug Offender May Not Be Enough

When facing a judge for the first time on a drug charge can mean leniency by the state. However, if you have other felonies or misdemeanors that are not drug charges, they will be taken into consideration. 

For example, if your criminal history shows two burglaries, an assault charge, or other non-drug-related charges, the judge will consider those, just as if you had prior drug charges. Having a clean record is your best bet when walking into a courtroom with a drug charge. You are apt to gain a second chance in society if this is the case. 

Other Factors to Consider

Other than the information listed above, there are other ways to gain the court’s trust when being a first-time drug offender. 

  • Have support from someone in the community with good standing to show your character to the judge. This could mean a preacher, a coach, a police officer, or other credible persons who will write a letter on how you add value to society if not given jail time. 
  • Check into counseling if arrested on a first-time drug charge. Even if not addicted to drugs, having evidence that you are working on your life outside of court rulings can go a long way in keeping you out of jail. 
  • Volunteer for community service before sentencing, or given a plea arrangement. Anything you can show the judge you are doing on your own accord will serve you well in court. If you wait for the court to make these decisions for you, though, you will find they do not have as much impact as when you volunteer first. 
  • Make sure to have a job. Even if you are going to school full time, having a job shows responsibility in the eyes of most courts. The opposite is also true. A good example is a 24-year-old living at home with no job will be judged much differently than someone who is trying to live a responsible life. 
  • Finally, getting into more trouble, especially more drug-related charges, will hurt your chances of staying out of jail. If charged with a drug crime, it is imperative that you stay out of trouble until at least your court case is finalized. 

Conclusion

First-time drug offenders have a good probability of being given a second chance and staying out of jail. By listening to your experienced attorney and following some of the guidelines in this article, you can enhance your chances of staying out of jail. Those who do not follow these simple choices, however, take a chance that a first-time offense could cost them their freedom. 

We hope we answered your question do first time drug offenders go to jail and wish you the best of luck.

Categories
Drug Charges

What To Do If Arrested For Drug Possession

What To Do If Arrested For Drug Possession

Being charged with drug possession in the state of Louisiana can be a grave mistake to make when apprehended by law enforcement. When it happens, you must make certain decisions quickly to have the best chance of avoiding a serious sentence. In this article, we will discuss what to do if arrested for drug possession in the Shreveport or New Orleans drug possession charges. 

Remain Calm

Being arrested with drug possession, especially a felony-level charge, would create instant stress in anyone’s life. Not only does the public stigma of a drug charge cause anxiety, but facing a sentence in jail or prison can be overwhelming for most. 

This anxiety has caused many people to make mistakes when charged with drug possession or any other drug charges. Law enforcement and prosecutors will use your fears against you. The best thing you can do is maintain your composure and follow the steps below. 

Remain Silent

Without your attorney present to advise you, there is nothing you can say after being charged with drug possession to the police or a prosecutor that will help you. Your best bet is to wait until you have a lawyer present to answer any questions because anything you say can be used against you in court. 

Distribution of drugs in New Orleans, Louisiana and most states carry a higher charge than simple possession. If you are arrested for distribution in Shreveport, it’s pretty much the same scenario. You would hate to have a possession charge upgraded due to something that comes out of your mouth that gives the prosecution evidence that you were involved in more than possession. 

Contact an Experienced Drug Defense Attorney

Not all lawyers are the same. Most criminal defense attorneys specialize in specific types of charges. With this experience, it can be to your benefit when charged with drug possession. This means that the attorney experienced in defending the type of charge you received is an expert in the field. 

Don’t Consent to an Additional Search 

If you have been arrested and charged with drug possession, you may be asked to give consent for the police to search your home, vehicle, or other personal property. Realize that if they have enough probable cause to complete these searches, they will ask a judge for a search warrant. If they are asking for your permission, they are on a fishing expedition. 

Many people make the mistake of saying yes to a consent to search, thinking they are showing cooperation when they are only putting themselves and others in jeopardy. Let the state do their own work without helping them find more crimes to charge you with. 

Don’t Expect a Quick Release on Bail

In the movies, someone is arrested and walks out of jail on bond within a couple of hours. This is not the case in the real world. The process of booking, arraigned before a judge, and released on bond, even if you have the money for bond, can take much longer than you think. 

Be prepared to spend twenty-four to forty-eight hours at a minimum before walking out of jail on bail, depending on how busy the system is. Remain calm, listen to your attorney and have patience during this part of the process. 

Seek Drug Counseling

When charged with a drug charge, seek some form of drug counseling, whether you have an addiction or not. Courts see defendants taking responsibility for their actions in a positive light. Will it help your case in particular? Maybe or maybe not, but it certainly will not hurt your case and could be beneficial to you. 

Even if you don’t have the money to see a licensed counselor or check into a rehab center, there are groups such as AA that are free to attend in both Shreveport and New Orleans

Listen to Your Attorney

As discussed before, your attorney is experienced in defending drug charges. Some defendants make the mistake of listening to the advice of their friends or family who should not be giving legal strategies. Do everything your attorney says, and your chances of success in your case will be much stronger. 

Stay Out of Trouble 

If you have been charged with drug possession and are awaiting a court date, you do not want to get arrested for anything, especially another drug charge. It doesn’t have to be another drug charge, though necessarily. Any additional arrest can put your original charge in jeopardy. 

If facing a court date, the best thing to do is keep to yourself, go to work, and come home. Many people have gone out to have a few drinks with their buddies only to get arrested during their night of fun. When facing a drug charge, you cannot afford to have another arrest, no matter what the charge is. 

Be Prepared to Serve Time

Depending on what type or the amount of drugs you were charged with, there is always a chance you could have to serve some time in jail or prison. You could also be found not guilty or receive probation, but always be prepared for the worst-case scenario. 

Even those who receive a light sentence may be required to spend a few days, weeks, or weekends in jail to meet the requirements of their sentence. 

Be Prepared to Settle

The attorney handling your case will work to get the best outcome for you. Depending on how strong the state’s case is, this may mean settling with the prosecution on the result of the case. For example, if you are facing prison time and your attorney can get the state to offer 5 years probation, you may not be happy about it, but this may be your best choice. 

Again, an experienced defense attorney will know when to fight and when to deal. Listen to your Louisiana attorney’s advice and get the best resolution to your case. 

Conclusion

Being charged with drug possession for most is a scary situation to be in. By following the steps above, you will give yourself the best chance for a positive outcome. Be smart, don’t help the prosecution make their case against you, and hire an experienced defense attorney who knows their way around a drug possession case. 

Categories
Drug Charges

Prescription Opioids, Heroin, Fentanyl in Louisiana

Fentanyl Lawyer Louisiana

There is an opioid epidemic in Louisiana and the rest of the country.  Prescription opioids, heroin, and fentanyl have created a lot of substance abuse addictions and deaths.  The Barkemeyer Law Firm focuses its practice on defending clients with drug charges, including possession of prescription pills, heroin, and fentanyl in Louisiana.  Contact us if you need a fentanyl possession lawyer for a drug charge in Louisiana.

Types of Painkillers

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) act on substances in the body that can cause inflammation, pain, and fever.
  • Corticosteroids are often administered as an injection at the site of musculoskeletal injuries. They exert powerful anti-inflammatory effects. They can also be taken orally to decrease inflammation and relieve pain.
  • Acetaminophen increases the body’s pain threshold, but it has little effect on inflammation.
  • Opioids, also known as narcotic analgesics, modify pain by binding to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord. Opioids decrease a patient’s perception of pain.
  • Muscle relaxants reduce pain from tense muscle groups, most likely through inhibitory actions in the central nervous system.
  • Benzodiazepines reduce pain through muscle relaxation properties. Benzodiazepines also reduce pain complaints through psychotropic effects (antianxiety).
  • Some antidepressants, particularly tricyclics and serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI), may reduce pain transmission through inhibitory actions in the spinal cord.
  • Some anticonvulsant drugs also relieve pain by stabilizing effects on peripheral nerves and by central inhibitory actions.

Common Prescription Opioids

  • Codeine (only available in generic form)
  • Fentanyl (Actiq, Duragesic, Fentora, Abstral, Onsolis)
  • Hydrocodone (Hysingla, Zohydro ER)
  • Hydrocodone/acetaminophen (Lorcet, Lortab, Norco, Vicodin)
  • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid, Exalgo)
  • Meperidine (Demerol)
  • Methadone (Dolophine, Methadose)
  •  Morphine (Kadian, MS Contin, Morphabond)
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin, Oxaydo)
  •  Oxycodone and acetaminophen (Percocet, Roxicet)
  • Oxycodone and naloxone
types of opioids

Opioid Epidemic

  • Every day, more than 115 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids.
  • In 2016, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids (including prescription opioids and illegal opioids like heroin and illicitly manufactured fentanyl) was 5 times higher than in 1999.
  • The CDC estimates that the total “economic burden” of prescription opioid misuse alone in the U.S. is $78.5 billion a year, including the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement.
  • In 2016, there were 346 opioid-related overdose deaths­­­ in Louisiana—a rate of 7.7 deaths per 100,000 persons—compared to the national rate of 13.3 deaths per 100,000. The main driver of opioid-related overdose deaths through 2012 was prescription opioids. Since then, heroin and synthetic opioids have increased dramatically. From 2012 to 2016, heroin and synthetic opioid-related overdose deaths increased from 51 to 149 deaths and from 19 to 89 deaths, respectively.
opioid death chart

How did this happen?

  • In the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies reassured the medical community that patients would not become addicted to prescription opioid pain relievers, and healthcare providers began to prescribe them at greater rates.
  • This subsequently led to widespread diversion and misuse of these medications before it became clear that these medications could indeed be highly addictive. Opioid overdose rates began to increase.
  • In 2015, more than 33,000 Americans died as a result of an opioid overdose, including prescription opioids, heroin, and illicitly manufactured fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid.
  • That same year, an estimated 2 million people in the United States suffered from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers, and 591,000 suffered from a heroin use disorder (not mutually exclusive).
  • In 2017, 72,000 Americans died from overdose

New Problem: Fentanyl

  • Schedule II prescription opioid.
  • It is a synthetic opioid 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin
  • When it’s introduced into an unregulated, illicit drug supply, where more and more of the country has become opioid dependent, it wreaks havoc.
  • Fentanyl is engineered to be potent and ridiculously fast acting. People are dying with needles in their arms.
  • Fentanyl is much cheaper than heroin.
  • Fentanyl is added to heroin.
  • Users have no idea how much fentanyl is in their heroin.
  • Mexican cartels are cutting fentanyl into their dope before sending it along to the United States.
  • Can purchase fentanyl online.
  • Experts and the DEA all seem to agree that Fentanyl and its constituent parts, or precursors, are coming from China. It’s probable that it’s being diverted from the labs that make fentanyl for legitimate, medical use.
  • Fentanyl testing strips are being passed out.
  • Naloxone (brand name Narcan) is used for heroin overdose.
  • Synthetic opioids could displace heroin markets around the world.
  • Poppy farmers in Mexico are forced to sell their product 40 to 80 percent below what they’re used to.

What is LA Legislature doing about it?

  • New Laws in 2017-2018
  • 7-day supply
  • Expands the Prescription Monitoring Program
  • Requires continuing education for prescribers

7 Day Supply

New Laws:

Prohibit a medical practitioner from prescribing more than a seven-day supply when issuing a first-time opioid prescription for outpatient use to an adult patient with an acute condition.

Prohibit a medical practitioner from issuing a prescription for more than a seven-day supply of an opioid to a minor at any time and requires the practitioner to discuss with a parent, tutor, or guardian of the minor the risks associated with opioid use and the reasons why the prescription is necessary.

Exempt prescriptions for more than a seven-day supply which, in the professional medical judgment of the medical practitioner, are necessary to treat the adult or minor patient’s acute medical condition or are necessary for the treatment of chronic pain management, pain associated with a cancer diagnosis, or for palliative care.

La R.S. 40:978

Prescription Monitoring Program

New law expands the mandate to access the PMP program prior to initially prescribing any opioid and if the patient’s course of treatment continues for more than 90 days. It further provides for exceptions when a prescriber is not required to check the program.

La R.S. 40:973, 40:978, 40:1001

Continuing Education for Physicians

New law requires all prescribers of controlled dangerous substances (CDS) in Louisiana to obtain three continuing education credit hours as a prerequisite of license renewal in the first annual renewal cycle after Jan. 1, 2018. CME course completion is a one-time requirement for all CDS permit holders in the state. The course content shall encompass drug diversion training, best practices for the prescribing of controlled substances, and appropriate treatment for addiction.

New law requires the health profession licensing boards that regulate prescribing practitioners to promulgate rules and regulations to implement the continuing education requirements established by new law, requires the boards to collect and maintain data on compliance and submit aggregate compliance data to the Senate and House committees on health and welfare, and clarifies that these continuing education hours shall be considered among those already required on the effective date of new law and not be in addition to what is already required.

La R.S. 40:978.3 now requires 3 hours continuing education.

More Information on Drug Charges in Louisiana:

Cocaine
Creation of Meth Lab
Distribution
Felony Drug Charges
Fentanyl
Heroin
Legend Drug
Marijuana
Misdemeanor Drug Charges
Methamphetamine
Obtaining Pills by Fraud
Opioids
Possession
Possession with Intent
Synthetic Cannabinoids