Kansas City Drug Defense Lawyer

Uniform Controlled Substances Act

All states, including Missouri and Kansas, define controlled substances under versions of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, which is modeled upon federal law. The statutes define controlled substances as drugs or their ingredients (“immediate precursors”), and sort them according to their potential for abuse and the extent to which they have accepted medical uses.

Schedule I controlled substances are those, which have high potential for abuse, and no accepted medical use in the United States. Heroin is an example of a schedule I controlled substance. 

Schedule II controlled substances have a high potential for abuse and may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence, but they also have accepted medical uses with severe restrictions. Opium, morphine, cocaine, and amphetamines are examples of schedule II controlled substances.

Schedule III controlled substances have less potential for abuse, have accepted medical treatment uses, and have the potential for abuse which could lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence. Some types of barbiturates and LSD are examples of schedule III controlled substances.

Schedule IV controlled substances are like schedule III controlled substances, but with more limited potential for abuse and dependence. Examples of schedule IV substances include diazepam (Valium) and phenobarbital. Schedule V substances are those with even less potential for abuse.

Who Had Possession of the Substance?

A frequent issue in drug offense prosecutions is whether the person charged had possession of the controlled substance.

In order to convict a person of a drug offense, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he or she knowingly manufactured, possessed, or distributed a controlled substance. Remember, the State can prove that the controlled substance is within that person’s control even if there are other people in the vicinity.

If controlled substances are found in a house or apartment where more than one person has access, the State may allege that more than one person had control of the substance.

In other words, the State may operate under an “acting in concert” theory. This simple conspiracy approach is one law enforcement mechanism used to address the possibility of collective culpability. The State may also address the case using a “constructive possession” approach which is yet another law enforcement mechanism used to broaden the scope of possession.

Either way, a reputable drug defense specialist understands the limitations of each and how to maneuver accordingly.

Penalties

In Missouri, simple possession of most controlled substances is a class C felony, punishable by up to seven years in prison. The one exception is possession of less than 35 grams of marijuana, which is a class A misdemeanor, punishable up to 12 months in jail.

The manufacture and distribution of controlled substances in Missouri is generally a class B felony, punishable by five to fifteen years in prison. The manufacture or distribution of five grams or less of marijuana is a class C felony.

If high quantities of controlled substances are involved, a person can be prosecuted for “trafficking” even if there is no sale involved.

Trafficking in the first degree – manufacture or distribution

A person can commit trafficking drugs in the first degree by manufacturing or distributing certain quantities of heroin, cocaine, crack, LSD, PCP, marijuana, amphetamines, or methamphetamines.

The penalties for trafficking drugs in the first degree are very serious – class A felonies punishable by ten to thirty years or life in prison, or class A felonies with the same range of punishment, but without the possibility of probation or parole.

Controlled substanceClass B felonyClass A felony
Heroin30-90 grams90 grams or more
Cocaine (or cocaine mixture)150-450 grams450 grams or more
Crack Cocaine8-24 grams24 grams or more
LSD500 milligrams – 1 gram1 gram or more
Mixture including PCP30-90 grams90 grams or more
PCP4-12 grams12 grams or more
Marijuana30 kilograms – 100 kilograms100 kilograms or more
Methamphetamine30-90 grams90 grams or more, or 30 grams or more if located within 2000ft of school
MDMA30-90 grams90 grams or more, or 30 grams or more if located within 2000ft of school

Trafficking in the second degree – manufacture or distribution

Just possessing these same quantities drugs can trigger a prosecution for trafficking in the second degree.

Controlled substanceClass C felonyClass B felonyClass A felony – no probation or parole
Heroin30-90 grams90 grams or more
Cocaine (or cocaine mixture)150-450 grams450 grams or more
Crack Cocaine8-24 grams24 grams or more
LSD500 milligrams – 1 gram1 gram or more
Mixture including PCP30-90 grams90 grams or more
PCP4-12 grams12 grams or more
Marijuana30 kilograms – 100 kilograms100 kilograms or more
Methamphetamine30-90 grams90-450 grams450 grams or more
MDMA30-90 grams90-450 grams450 grams or more

In Kansas sentencing is controlled by a grid that takes into account criminal history, the severity level of the crime committed, and aggravating/mitigating circumstances. There are separate sentencing grids for non-drug and drug felonies. The sentencing grid is set forth by the Kansas Sentencing Commission and because of its structural rigidity, fourth amendment litigation is often times a necessary component of Kansas drug defense. 

Penalties increase in both Missouri and Kansas for distribution of controlled substances near schools; in Missouri penalties are also increased for distribution near parks and public housing. In Both Missouri and Kansas, a person’s prior convictions affect the severity of the potential sentence. In Missouri, prior felonies can result in classification as a “persistent offender” or a “persistent drug offender,” which can increase the offense level or affect probation or parole eligibility.

In summation always take a drug charge seriously; as you can see from the brief introduction to this area of law, there are far too many variables for this to be an afterthought. Call Greg Watt, Kansas City’s drug defense specialist.

This article about drug offenses is provided by Kansas City drug defense lawyer Greg Watt.

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