Drug Offense FAQ’s
1. What’s the difference between “possession” and “distribute” or “manufacture”?
“Possession” is the basic charge for any drug offense, whether it is marijuana or methamphetamine. Proving possession requires a showing of “actual care, custody, control, or management.” To “distribute,” a person must deliver a drug in some way other than “administering or dispensing” it. But “manufacture” is the broadest definition of all, including the creation and altering of any drug (other than marijuana), by chemical synthesis and/or extracting natural substances. It can also include the packaging and labeling of a drug.
2. What’s a “penalty group” and how does it affect how I’m charged?
The legislature has divided controlled substances into 4 penalty groups, and each one has its own punishment range, depending on whether the offense is possession or manufacture and distribution, the amount of the substance, and generally based on the dangerousness of the drug itself.
Some common drugs and their associated penalty groups are:
- PG 1 – Methamphetamine, Cocaine, Heroin, Hydrocodone (over 300 mg)
- PG 2 – Ecstasy, PCP
- PG 3 – Valium, Xanax, Ritalin, Hydrocodone (under 300 mg)
- PG 4 – Morphine, Buprenorphine
3. How will the amount affect how I’m charged?
Charges are divided up by the amount involved, based on the penalty group.
For example, marijuana possession is charged as:
- Less than 2 oz – class B misdemeanor
- 2 to 4 oz – class A misdemeanor
- 4 oz to 5 lbs – 3rd degree felony
- 5 lbs to 2000 lbs – 2nd degree felony
- Over 2000 lbs – 1st degree felony
For Penalty Groups 1 and 2 –
- Less than 1 gr – state jail felony
- 1 to 4 grams – 3rd degree felony
- 4 to 200 grams (or 4 to 400 grams for PG2) – 2nd degree felony
- 200 or more grams (or over 400 grams for PG2) – 1st degree felony
4. What is SAFP?
SAFP stands for the Substance Abuse Felony Punishment program. This is an intense treatment program for probationers and parolees who need substance abuse treatment. It includes an “in-prison” phase consisting of orientation, treatment, and then re-entry and relapse prevention. Then there is a 3 month stay at a transitional treatment center, similar to a half-way house, followed by 9 months of outpatient treatment. The program can last up to 30 months, depending on successful progress towards recovery and sobriety. SAFP is perhaps the most intense drug treatment program available, but it is also considered one of the most effective.