Written by Stryder Wegener
As you have no doubt heard in the media, America is in the midst of an opioid epidemic. Skyrocketing numbers of overdoses have brought increased pressure on law enforcement to address the problem. In turn, this has led to an increased number of drug arrests for opioid use and possession.
Emerald City Law Group works hard to defend people charged with opioid drug crimes. If you’ve been charged with such an offense, do not hesitate to reach out. Crimes involving illegal substances are harshly punished, so it’s important to retain the help of a skilled Seattle drug lawyer. To schedule a free and confidential consultation of your case, call us at (206) 973-0407, or fill out our online contact form.
The Legal Framework
Under the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, heroin is considered a Schedule I controlled substance. Drugs in this schedule are considered the most serious and carry the harshest penalties due to the likelihood of addiction and the severe health consequences resulting from prolonged use. Other opioids are classified as Schedule II, meaning that while they have currently-accepted medical uses, they still retain a high potential for abuse.
The following actions are considered crimes in the state of Washington:
- Possession of opioids
- Delivery of opioids
- The manufacturing of opioids
- Possession with intent to manufacture or deliver opioids
- Distribution of opioids
- Sale of opioids
Possession of Opioids
Per the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 69.50.401(2)(c), possession of heroin and other opioids is considered a class C felony. If found guilty of opioid possession, you could face up to five years in prison, and fines reaching $10,000.
Intent to Manufacture or Deliver Opioids / Manufacture or Delivery of Opioids
If you are alleged to have possessed more than a small amount of opioids, you may be charged with possession with intent to manufacture or deliver. Law enforcement can also charge you with this offense if you allegedly had scales, baggies, or other such materials at the time of your arrest.
It’s important to note that law enforcement and the prosecution will use the circumstances surrounding your arrest as evidence of your intent, regardless of what your actual intent may have been. You should also note that they only have to prove that you intended to deliver or manufacture an opioid. They don’t have to prove that you followed through on either of these actions.
Possession with the intent to manufacture or deliver opioids and the manufacturing or delivery of opioids are considered to be Class B felonies, with enhanced penalties depending on the amount of illegal drugs in your possession. Per RCW 69.50.401(2)(a), an offense involving less than two kilograms is punishable by a prison sentence of up to 10 years, and fines reaching $25,000. If your offense involved more than two kilograms, you are facing the same prison sentence but fines of up to $100,000, plus $50 each kilogram over the first two.
Sale of Opioids
If you are convicted of selling heroin or other opioids in the state of Washington, you face a class C felony. RCW 69.50.403(3) states that this offense is punishable by up to two years in prison, fines of up to $2,000, or both prison and fines. For subsequent offenses, these penalties only increase.
Recognizing that prison may not always be the best option, the state of Washington and King County have created options to divert qualified individuals from spending their years behind bars. King County operates an Adult Drug Diversion Court program, which dismisses drug charges if participants successfully complete a supervised treatment program.
Another option is Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative (DOSA). This is a post-sentencing program that can reduce your prison term by a significant amount upon completion of a drug treatment program.
Have You Been Charged with an Opioid Drug Crime? Contact Us Today for Help
If you’re facing drug charges due to opioid use or possession, the consequences could change your life forever. Don’t jeopardize your future by thinking you should just plead guilty. Talk to an experienced Seattle drug attorney about your options in an opioid drug crime case. Emerald City Law Group can evaluate your case, develop a strategy that best suits your options, and fight for you to receive a fair result. If you would like to schedule a free, initial evaluation of your case, contact us today at (206) 973-0407.