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Drug offenses: many factors can weigh in on charging, outcomes

Many of our readers in North Carolina and elsewhere might reasonably view that some criminal offenses, even if construed with utmost seriousness by state law enforcers and prosecuted with vigor by state lawyers, should result in relatively minor penalties.

It is not hard to quickly conjure up some representative possibilities. A first-time shoplifting offense of a single low-valued item, for example. A curfew violation involving a juvenile. Perhaps an arrest on a marijuana possession charge involving a small amount of pot that a first-time offender intended only for personal use.

Let's focus on that latter scenario for a second. North Carolina authorities might indeed dole out a figurative slap on the wrist for such an offense, although it is worth noting that even misdemeanor drug offenses involving marijuana can yield relatively heavy penalties, including jail time and additional exactions.

As bad as those might get, though, the potential for a far worse outcome routinely awaits people from one select demographic who are charged with the exact same offense.

A recent media opinion piece highlights that, spotlighting the travails of noncitizens arrested on drug charges -- even legal residents and green card holders who are charged with relatively minor pot-related offenses.

As that media article notes, that proverbial slap on the wrist can be elevated to deportation when that noncitizen status prevails.

It can be difficult for any person arrested on a drug-related matter to know with certainty how criminal authorities will respond and what charges will ultimately be filed. A charge might be classified as a misdemeanor or -- far worse -- a felony. Moreover, and as noted in this post, an outcome might be materially influenced by how authorities view the legal status of a charged individual.

A proven criminal defense attorney can help sort such things out, as well as provide diligent legal representation to a client who is squared off against state authorities in a drug-related matter.

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