In recent years, heroin use across the United States has skyrocketed, and because of this, more and more clients come to me facing possession of heroin charges. Often the first question out of a client who is charged with possession of heroin is what the penalties are for possession of heroin.
First, a brief description of heroin. Heroin is considered a Schedule I drug, meaning that it is a controlled substance with a high potential for abuse and no currently-accepted medical use for treatment in the United States. There are three ways to use heroin: by injection, by smoking, and by snorting. There are also different varieties of heroin, including but not limited to: black heroin, white heroin, brown heroin, and tar heroin. For sentencing purposes, it does not matter whether the heroin is designed to be used by snorting, injection, or by smoking, and it does not matter what variety of heroin it is.
The sentence for possession of heroin varies according to the amount of heroin found. For less than 15 grams of heroin are found, you will be charged with a Class 4 felony with a sentence ranging from one year to three years; in addition to prison time, you may also face a fine as high as $25,000. For 15 grams of more of heroin you are found to possess, you will face a Class 1 felony with a sentence that ranges from as low as four years all the way up to fifty years. If there is 15 grams or more but less than 100 grams of heroin, the term of imprisonment is a minimum of four years and a maximum of 15 years. For between 100 grams to 399 grams of heroin, the sentence ranges from six to 30 years. For heroin that weighs between 400 to 899 grams of heroin, the sentence is between eight years to forty years. For any amount of heroin equal to or greater than 900 grams, the sentence is between ten to fifty years. In addition, if it is determined that there was 100 grams or more of heroin present, you may be fined up to $200,000 or up to the street value of the heroin, whichever figure is greater. If you are found to be manufacturing, trafficking, or delivering heroin, you face even harsher penalties than you would for mere possession of heroin.
What strategy that should be used to fight a charge of possession of heroin will depend according to the facts of the case. The elements that the State will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt for you to be found guilty of possession of heroin is 1) that the substance identified as heroin is actually heroin, and 2) that the defendant knowingly possessed the heroin. Most of the time, it is clear that the material is heroin as tests can be done which indicate whether heroin is present in the substance. This means that often the best route to fight a possession of heroin charge is to attack the element of possession. Finally, even if it is clear that the substance is heroin and that you possessed it, we can always attack how the evidence was gathered—if it was acquired by an illegal search by the police, there is a chance that the courts will not allow it into evidence.
If you face a possession of heroin charge, don't fight it alone. You need an attorney on your side known to fight for their clients using their years of experience handling possession cases like the attorneys at John W. Callahan, Ltd. Contact the skilled attorneys at John W. Callahan, Ltd. for representation.
–Posted by John W. Callahan, drug possession attorney