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You Face More than Imprisonment and Fines for a Drug Crime Conviction

drug crimes

A drug crime conviction can come with various collateral consequences. Collateral consequences are sanctions not specified under the statute of the alleged offense but arise from other laws and regulations. They impose limitations on you, making it difficult to reenter society after you have completed your sentence.

Although it is possible to face collateral consequences (in addition to the statutory penalties) because of a drug crime conviction, it is also possible to seek to avoid them. You can aggressively fight your charge to pursue a favorable outcome, such as a reduction in charges or an acquittal. A criminal defense attorney can help combat the allegations against you.

If you are facing criminal accusations in Northwest Arkansas, please call Norwood & Norwood, P.A. at (479) 235-4600 or contact us online.

What Are Collateral Consequences?

Collateral consequences are restrictions the government or an entity may place on you because you were convicted of a crime. They can affect many areas of your life, including employment, finances, business, and leisure. The limitations can last a long time, making it difficult to provide for yourself even after you have finished your sentence.

Generally, many people charged with crimes are not aware of the long-term collateral consequences they can face for a conviction. Mainly, that’s because these sanctions aren’t explicitly stated in the law concerning the alleged offense.

For instance, suppose you are charged with possession of less than 2 grams of a Schedule I controlled substance. The drug possession statute provides that the violation is a Class D felony. Looking up the penalties for Class D felonies in Arkansas, you find that they carry a possible prison term of up to 6 years and/or a fine of up to $10,000. But the statutes don’t refer to other laws or regulations allowing sanctions to be imposed upon you.

Collateral consequences can arise for nearly all crimes. However, we discuss a couple of those connected only to drug crime convictions.

Restrictions on Federal Benefits

If you are convicted of felony-level drug possession or distribution by the state or federal government, you could be restricted from accessing certain federal benefits. The ineligibility period may last for a certain amount of time or the rest of your life.

The federal benefits you may be denied include:

  • Grants,
  • Contracts,
  • Loans,
  • Professional licenses, and/or
  • Commercial licenses.

However, they do not include the following benefits:

  • Retirement,
  • Welfare,
  • Social Security,
  • Health,
  • Disability,
  • Public housing, or
  • Any benefit whose eligibility depends on payments or services.

How long you are restricted from accessing qualifying benefits depends on whether you were convicted of drug possession or trafficking and whether this is your first or subsequent violation.

The period of ineligibility for drug possession is:

  • Up to 1 year for a first conviction
    • You may also be ordered to complete a drug treatment program and/or community service.
  • Up to 5 years for a second or subsequent conviction
    • You may also be required to complete a drug treatment program and/or community service.

The period of ineligibility for drug possession is:

  • Up to 5 years for a first conviction
  • Up to 10 years for a second conviction
  • Permanently for a third or subsequent conviction

The ineligibility periods listed above represent the maximum length of time benefits can be denied. The court has the discretion to determine the specific limit to impose.

You may be able to waive this penalty if you declare yourself an addict and enter a long-term drug addiction treatment program or are deemed rehabilitated.

The term of your federal benefit suspension may end early if you:

  • Complete a drug rehabilitation program,
  • Become rehabilitated, or
  • Try to enter a rehabilitation program but can’t because of lack of availability or financial resources.

The denial of federal benefits for drug trafficking won’t apply if you agree to cooperate with the State or federal government in a prosecution against someone else.

Denial of Passport

Your ability to travel out of the country may be restricted if you were convicted of a state drug offense involving the manufacture, distribution, or possession of a controlled substance. You will be denied a passport if you used one or crossed country borders to further the crime. Or, if you already have a passport, it will be revoked upon a conviction.

The period of ineligibility is effective while you are:

  • Imprisoned, or
  • On parole or supervised release.

Contact Norwood & Norwood, P.A.

A lot is at stake when charged with a drug crime. An attorney can help protect your rights and future by challenging the allegations.

To learn how our Northwest Arkansas team can fight for you, please contact us at (479) 235-4600 today.