Is Heroin Possession a Felony in Louisiana? Learn Everything You Need To Know About Heroin Possession in Louisiana
If you’re reading this post, you may be wondering: is heroin possession a felony in Louisiana? Perhaps you’ve recently been caught with heroin. Or maybe a loved one has sadly been caught within the grips of a heroin addiction. Whatever your reasons for asking if heroin possession is a felony, we’re here to answer all your questions about whether heroin possession is a felony drug charge. Read on to learn everything about heroin possession in Louisiana and beyond.
Heroin Possession Is A Felony In Most States
Being caught with heroin in your possession or being charged with drug distribution is never a good idea, no matter how much you have. Heroin is illegal in every state in America, including Louisiana. Since it is an illicit drug and the sale and trafficking of drugs is usually followed by or involves violence, there can be severe consequences for individuals caught in possession of heroin.
There are various laws and punishments for the types and amounts of drugs in someone’s possession. Different quantities of heroin in a person’s possession have different penalties. So if you are finding yourself asking the question, “Is heroin possession a felony in Louisiana?” you have come to the right place.
This article will dive into what heroin is, its history as an illegal drug, the various penalties associated with heroin possession, and if heroin possession is a felony in Louisiana.
What Is Heroin and Why Is It Illegal?
First, let’s understand what heroin is and why the Louisiana government has made it illegal.
What Is Heroin?
Heroin is an opioid made from morphine that comes from the seed pods of various opium poppy plants. The poppy plants are grown in Southwest Asia, Mexico and Columbia. Heroin can come in multiple forms:
- White powder
- Brown powder
- A sticky, black substance called black tar heroin
What Are the Effects?
Heroin can be injected, sniffed, snorted, or injected. When it enters the body, it binds to opioid receptors in many areas that control pain, pleasure, heart rate, sleeping, and breathing functions.
- A surge of pleasure or euphoria (a rush)
- Warm flushing of the skin
- Dry mouth
- Nausea and vomiting
- Severe itching
- Heaviness in the arms and legs
- Clouded mental function
- A back and forth state of consciousness (nodding)
- Collapsed veins (for intravenous users)
- Damaged nasal passages (for sniffers or snorters)
- Heart lining and valve infection
- Liver and kidney disease
- Mental disorders
- Sexual dysfunction (men)
- Irregular menstrual cycles (women)
Heroin can be cut (adding other substances to increase potency or quantity) with any number of additives that can cause numerous additional adverse side effects. Furthermore, sharing needles or other drug paraphernalia can increase the risk of transmitting infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis. Overdosing on heroin is also a possibility.
Why Is Heroin Illegal?
Heroin is classified as a Schedule I Controlled Dangerous Substance in Louisiana. That means heroin is part of a list of dangerous drugs that have the following characteristics:
- High potential for abuse
- Currently has no accepted medical use in treatment in the United States
- There is a lack of accepted safety use under medical supervision
Possession of any Schedule I drug is a felony in Louisiana punishable by varying degrees depending on how much you are caught with.
What Are the Penalties for Heroin Possession in Louisiana?
Heroin possession is covered under Revised Statutes 40, Section 966 (RS 40:966) of Louisiana State Law. It states what the penalties are for the distribution or possession with intent to distribute Schedule I narcotics, including possession of synthetic cannabinoids, marijuana and heroin.
There Are Different Penalties for Marijuana Possession Than Heroin
Under this code, there are different penalties for possession of marijuana and cannabinoids than for heroin. We’ll look at the penalties for marijuana possession and heroin possession for comparison.
For example, in a nutshell, marijuana possession on a first offense, if caught with less than 15 grams, can get a fine of $300, imprisonment for not more than 15 days in the parish (Louisiana’s name for “county”), jail or both.
Being caught with more than 15 grams of marijuana can result in a $500 fine, not more than six months in jail, or both. Being caught more often means more fines and increased jail time, with a third conviction possibly including hard labor.
Heroin possession is significantly more severe than marijuana possession. Louisiana considers any crime sentenced to hard labor as a felony. Citizens can be convicted for simple drug possession, including possession of heroin. In heroin’s case, less than 2 grams is considered possession. Here are the penalties for possession of heroin under Louisiana law:
- Being caught with an aggregate weight of fewer than two grams, you can be sentenced to a term of imprisonment, with or without hard labor, for not less than two years and not more than four years
- For possession of more than two grams but less than twenty-eight grams, you can be sentenced to a term of imprisonment for not less than two years and not more than ten years, and you can also be required to pay a fine of up to $5000
- Possession of more than twenty-eight grams of heroin is considered trafficking
- With each subsequent conviction, the penalties will increase
For more detailed information on Louisiana’s heroin possession laws, click here.
Hard labor can be part of the sentencing if convicted of heroin possession in Louisiana. Remember, under Louisiana Law, any sentence of hard labor means the crime is a felony. Hard labor can include:
- Road crews (picking up trash on the side of the road)
- Working at the state building
- Working at the governor’s mansion
- Labor at the Angola prison farming operation, which can include shoveling manure and filling sacks with fertilizer for long periods in the hot sun
- Acting as rodeo clowns or selling concession items at the Angola Prison Rodeo, “The wildest show in the south”
Louisiana is notoriously tough on drug possession laws. The risk to the public and the threat of drug-related violence are the main reasons prosecutors are so tough on drug possession charges.
Conclusion: Is Heroin Possession A Felony In Louisiana?
Louisiana is known for having some of the most rigid laws in the United States for possession of heroin. Many people who end up with a conviction for heroin possession face much harsher penalties in Louisiana than in other states.
Most drug possession is a felony in Louisiana, including heroin possession, and will result in jail time, with or without hard labor. The only drug possession crime that is not a felony is a first-time possession of marijuana of fewer than 15 grams. As of 2021, Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate globally (if U.S. states were countries). A high percentage of those incarcerated are due to drug-related offenses such as possession of heroin and other Schedule I drugs.
Possession of heroin is different from other crimes because there are no victims. Many involve addicts who are doing what they need to do to get high and simply need help with addiction. However, since drug-related crimes can include violence and escalation that pose a danger to the public, the police and prosecution lawyers of Louisiana take heroin possession very seriously.
If you or someone you know has been arrested for heroin possession, you should call a lawyer. Barkemeyer Law Firm is a criminal defense law firm that handles hundreds of drug charge cases every year. Barkemeyer Law Firm has locations throughout Louisiana, so they can certainly help if you are facing heroin charges. Please contact Barkemeyer Law Firm at your convenience to learn more about heroin charges and getting the best representation for your case.
You should now know the answer to your question: is heroin possession a felony in Louisiana.