Consequences of a Drug Conviction

Possession of even a small amount of marijuana or other drugs is a crime in Arkansas and, if convicted, that small mistake can turn into a colossal problem. A felony conviction can be financially devastating and lead to substantial prison time, but even the lesser punishment of a misdemeanor can be felt for years after the fact. Drug convictions can impact your life in both expected and unexpected ways.

If you or a loved one have been accused of drug possession, you need to understand the gravity of the situation and the ways that it can tarnish future opportunities. Contact one of our attorneys if you have any questions or if you need someone on your side who will help protect you from the devastating effects of these consequences.

Legal Penalties: Felony vs. Misdemeanor

The legal penalties of a drug conviction start with whether it is considered a felony or misdemeanor. The distinction will depend upon the quantity as well as the type of illegal substance found. For example, if you carry a large amount of marijuana, you might be charged with a felony which can carry significantly higher penalties than a misdemeanor.

An important difference is that a felony is served in a prison within the Department of Corrections as opposed to a misdemeanor, which is served in the county jail.

Felony Prison Terms and Fines for Drug Convictions:

  • Class Y felonies (most serious): 10-40 years or life in prison / the fine amount is decided by the court
  • Class A felony: 6-30 years / fine of up to $15,000
  • Class B felony: 5-20 years / fine of up to $15,000
  • Class C felony: 3-10 years / fine of up to $10,000
  • Class D felony: up to 6 years / fine of up to $10,000

Misdemeanor Jail Terms and Fines for Drug Convictions:

  • Class A misdemeanor: up to one year / fine of up to $2,500
  • Class B misdemeanor: up to 90 days in jail / fine of up to $1,000
  • Class C misdemeanor: up to 30 days in jail / fine of up to $500

Other legal penalties of felonies include loss of basic rights such as the right to vote, to sit on a jury, or to possess a firearm. All drug convictions, misdemeanor or felony, result in a six-month driver’s license suspension, regardless of whether the drugs were found in the car.

Consequences Beyond the Courtroom

Some of the lesser known and not often considered extralegal consequences of a drug conviction are those that are not easily measured. They become prevalent due to the fact that all criminal records are made public unless expunged or sealed. This means that anyone who has the means and the curiosity to find out about a past conviction can easily find it— employers, romantic partners, or even complete strangers.

This can damage your standing in society and make it difficult for you to move on. Some of the long-lasting impacts on a person’s life include…

  • Loss of perceived trustworthiness – A criminal record might cast doubt on your trustworthiness in the eyes of certain people and institutions. For example, loan companies might immediately deny you for a loan because you’re labeled as a high risk. Landlords may not want to rent to you because they doubt your ability to pay rent on time. Your honesty and stability are called into question, which sometimes even affects your personal relationships.
  • Loss of employment opportunities – Background checks are becoming a standardized part of the hiring process. If they see a drug conviction in your past, it may disqualify you immediately at worse or it certainly hurts your chances at best. This can make it especially difficult to land a job in a certain industry such as law enforcement, commercial driving, nursing, or teaching.
  • Loss of financial aid – A drug conviction—even if you’re young and it’s a first-time misdemeanor— may affect your financial aid eligibility when pursuing a higher education. This includes all loans, grants, and work assistance programs. If you’re currently in college, this can seriously derail your progress and may even lead to a downward spiral.
  • Loss of child custody – If you ever find yourself in a custody battle, things can unfortunately get heated, and that includes bringing up your past. A drug conviction can be used as leverage against you to show that you are not capable of raising or even being around children. It also affects your chances of ever adopting in the future.

Contact Collins, Collins & Ray

A drug conviction can be life-changing, but the drug offense attorneys at Collins, Collins & Ray help people in Arkansas prepare for the challenges that lie ahead. We work diligently to reduce or even eliminate drug conviction penalties, therefore limiting the harsh legal and extralegal consequences. We want to help you move on with your life. Contact us today to help in your drug possession case.

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