Oklahoma has some of the nation’s toughest drug laws, and getting caught with marijuana or other illegal drugs can be a serious, life-changing event. Even being found in possession of legal medications without a valid prescription for those drugs can lead to lengthy prison sentences.
Although there are some drug possession charges for which a first offense is a misdemeanor, many people are surprised to learn that most drug charges are felonies—even simple possession of certain drugs or a second offense of marijuana possession.
Oklahoma’s drug laws are notoriously harsh. Misconceptions that drug possession is a “minor” offense can cause people to think that their drug arrest is not that big of a deal. However, the consequences you face if charged with drug possession can include decades in prison and a criminal record that has a lifelong impact.
If law enforcement ever asks for permission to search your home, your vehicle, or your person for drugs or any other illegal items, it is important to say that you do not consent to a search. Police may still be able to search with a warrant or on the basis of probable cause, but your lack of consent can be an important defense tool if police search illegally, without a warrant and without probable cause. Once you agree to the search, however, the strategy of arguing that the search was illegal is destroyed.
If you are found to be in possession of marijuana, heroin, meth, or other illegal drugs, or if you have oxycodone, hydrocodone, or other prescription drugs without a prescription, do not answer police questions about those drugs or where you got them. Do not admit ownership. Instead, preserve your right to remain silent and contact us immediately for experienced drug defense representation.
In Oklahoma, the penalties for drug possession depend upon the type of drug a person is accused of possessing and the number of prior drug offenses on the person’s record.
The lightest charge is a first offense simple possession of marijuana or a Schedule III, IV, or V drug. Marijuana possession or illegal possession of a lower Schedule CDS like alprazolam (Xanax) is a misdemeanor as a first offense, punishable by a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Anyone convicted will likely be ordered to serve a term of probation that includes drug and alcohol counseling or treatment.
Of course, it is important to remember that the misdemeanor charge is only for a first offense. A second or subsequent offense is a felony which carries a sentence of 2 to 10 years in prison.
Illegal possession of Schedule I or II drugs is never a misdemeanor. Schedule I and II drugs are considered the most dangerous, most highly addictive controlled substances, with limited or no recognized legitimate medical purpose. These include heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, oxycodone, methadone, codeine, hydrocodone, morphine, and more. Narcotic prescription painkillers are listed as Schedule II drugs.
Even as a first offense, unlawful possession of a Schedule I or II CDS (except marijuana) is a felony punishable by 2 to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. As a second offense, the penalties increase to 4 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Penalties increase for possessing a CDS near a school, a public park, or in the presence of a child under 12.
The above penalties are associated with conviction of CDS possession for personal use. Unlike in many other states, however, Oklahoma does not assign a set quantity of drug to increase the charge from simple possession to possession with intent to distribute. Because of this, prosecutors will jump on any possibility to levy the harsher charge of possession with intent to distribute.
In order to charge a person with possession with intent to distribute, the district attorney only needs “evidence” that the drugs in the defendant’s possession were not merely for personal use. This can include any quantity of a substance that law enforcement feels is too much for personal use; the presence of scales, cash, baggies, or text messages indicating distribution; or even a defendant’s statement that he or she was planning to get high with friends. Note that Oklahoma’s charging language is not “possession with intent to sell,” but “possession with intent to distribute.” Even if no cash exchanges hands, a person can be charged with drug distribution or intent to distribute.
As a first offense, possession with intent to distribute is a felony punishable by a mandatory minimum of 2 years in prison and maximum of life. If the CDS is a Schedule I or II drug, the mandatory minimum is 5 years, with a maximum of life in prison.
Learn more about possession with intent to distribute and drug distribution and trafficking here.
Not only is it illegal to possess illegal drugs and their precursors and to possess prescription medications without a valid prescription, but it is also illegal to possess the paraphernalia used to cultivate, manufacture, or use those drugs.
The Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Act provides an extensive list of items which may be considered “drug paraphernalia” in 63 O.S. § 2-101. This list includes pipes, bongs, growing kits, roach clips, syringes, spoons, and more.
Possession of drug paraphernalia is a misdemeanor. As a misdemeanor, the maximum sentence is a year in county jail; however, the penalties increase for subsequent offenses:
It is important to note that while possession of drug paraphernalia is a misdemeanor, the delivery or sale of paraphernalia to a person under the age of 18 is a felony.
A drug possession case is never clear-cut, and the penalties you face if convicted can vary dramatically according to the details of your case. If you are charged with drug possession, possession with intent to distribute, or possession of drug paraphernalia, we can explore all options to determine the best defense strategy for your unique situation. Call attorney Ryan Coventon at (405) 417-3842 or submit the confidential case review form at right to get started.