Do First-Time Drug Offenders Go To Jail?
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.
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.
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.
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.