The possession of a controlled substance is illegal under both Colorado state law and federal law. However, the severity of the crime varies on a state-by-state basis, and also is dependent upon the type of drug involved. In Colorado, possession of heroin is a serious crime that is met with severe consequences. If you are facing possession of heroin charges, call our Colorado criminal defense lawyer at the law office of Miller Leonard, PC for more information about how to build your defense.
What Constitutes Possession in Colorado?
In our state, Colorado revised statutes section 18-18-403.5 holds that it is unlawful for any person to knowingly possess a controlled substance. But what constitutes “possession?” Generally, possession is defined as having or belonging to one’s own. A person may be charged with drug possession if they have the drug in question on their person or in their control; for example, if they have the drug within their home, know of the location, and claim ownership over the drug.
Classification of Heroin
Heroin is classified as a schedule I drug, the most serious drug classification there is. The federal government defines schedule one drugs as those drugs with no currently accepted medical uses, as well as drugs that have a high potential for abuse.
Because the severity of penalty for a drug possession crime depends, on large part, of the schedule of drug involved in the crime, the possession of heroin in Colorado carries some of the most severe sentencing consequences handed down for drug possession charges in the state.
Penalties for Possession of Heroin in Colorado – How Much Jail Time for Heroin Possession?
The same section of Colorado statute cited above explains that a person who is found to be in possession of a schedule I drug is guilty of a level four drug felony. A level four drug felony is a serious offense, and is punishable by:
- Minimum of six months to one year of incarceration;
- Maximum of one to two years of incarceration;
- A fine of up to $1000,000; and
- Mandatory parole of one year.
If a person is simultaneously found guilty of any other heroin-related drug offenses, such as use of heroin, distribution of heroin, or manufacturing of heroin, the penalties can be even more severe. To be sure, a level one drug felony can carry a penalty of up to 32 years in prison and $1 million in fines; distribution or manufacturing of a large amount of heroin and transferring heroin to a minor on school grounds are level one drug felonies.
In addition to prison time and large fines, a drug offense can have long-term consequences, too. A drug conviction can stay on a person’s criminal record for the remainder of their life, and may affect their ability to gain employment, secure housing, or even retain custody or visitation privileges with their children.
Defenses to Heroin Possession in Colorado
If you have been charged with possession of heroin in Colorado, it is strongly recommended that you consult with a skilled criminal defense attorney familiar with drug possession laws immediately. While the defenses that are available to you will be very much dependent on the circumstances of your case, some defenses to heroin possession charges include:
- Lack of knowledge;
- Lack of ownership (the drugs belong to someone else); and
- Involuntary possession/duress/coercion.
You may also have a case for suppression of evidence depending upon how the evidence the prosecution has against you was obtained (for example, if the police officer did not have a search warrant or your permission at the time they entered your property or searched your vehicle).
If defending yourself against charges is not possible–i.e. a jury verdict of ‘innocent’ is improbable–our lawyer can help you to explore other options available to you, including striking a plea bargain with the prosecution. A plea deal involves an agreement between you and the prosecution where you plead guilty to charges in exchange for reduced sentencing, or perhaps even lesser charges.
Steps to Take if You Have Been Charged with Heroin Possession in Colorado
If you are charged with possession of heroin in Colorado, it’s important that you adhere to the following advice to improve your chances of securing the best possible case outcome:
- Exercise your right to remain silent. While you should be polite and cooperative during your arrest and booking, you do not have to tell the police anything about the crime you’ve been charged with, and should instead exercise your right to remain silent.
- Show up for scheduled court appearances (and don’t plead guilty!). After you are booked in jail, you will have the charges read against you by a judge and you will have the opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty. Our lawyers recommend that you plead “not guilty” unless otherwise recommended by a competent attorney. If you are released from jail, it is very important that you attend all scheduled court hearings and other court appearances – missing court can have a detrimental outcome on your case.
- Exercise your right to legal counsel. You have a constitutional right to legal representation which you should absolutely exercise. As soon as possible following your arrest, you should demand to speak to an attorney. Attempting to defend yourself against heroin possession charges is strongly advised against.
Contact the Law Office of Miller Leonard, PC
At the law office of Miller Leonard, PC, our Colorado criminal defense and drug possession attorney has experience representing clients facing heroin and other drug possession charges and drug-related offenses, and understands the severity of potential ramifications you’re facing. Our law firm is passionate about working hard for our clients and upholding their constitutional right to competent legal representation, as well as the right to be found innocent until proven guilty.
We know what’s on the line, and we want to help protect your future. For a consultation with our criminal defense lawyer, please call us today or send us a confidential consultation. We can travel to your location.