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Navigating the Criminal Process After a Drug Possession Arrest in Arkansas

Doug Norwood Blog

An arrest on suspicion of drug possession can be frightening. Arkansas drug crime laws are strict, and a conviction can lead to incarceration and fines. Facing a complex criminal justice process involving various court hearings, negotiations with prosecutors, and a possible trial, you may feel overwhelmed. Understanding your rights and recognizing that defenses may be available to challenge the accusations against you can help ease some of your worries. Additionally, having a criminal defense lawyer on your side can give you peace of mind knowing that you have an advocate working diligently to build a legal strategy and pursue a favorable outcome on your behalf.

If you have been accused of a drug crime, schedule a consultation with one of our Northwest Arkansas attorneys at Norwood & Norwood, P.A. by calling (479) 235-4600 or contacting us online.

What Happens If You’re Found in Possession of Drugs?

Allegedly having one or more drugs on you violates A.C.A. § 5-64-419. The statute says that it is unlawful for anyone to have controlled substances.

If you’re accused of violating the law, a police officer will likely arrest you and take you into custody. After the officer files their report, the prosecutor will decide whether to pursue criminal charges against you.

Hiring a criminal defense attorney, even at this early stage in your case, may be beneficial. They can do a pre-file investigation and present evidence to the prosecutor to show that the proof against you is weak and may not hold up in court. This could result in no charges being filed.

If the prosecutor decides to move forward, you may have to attend various court hearings. You can also seek to resolve your case outside the courtroom by entering a plea deal with the prosecutor.

What Are the Potential Punishments for Possessing Drugs in Arkansas?

If you’re convicted of drug possession, the penalties you might face depend on the type and amount of substance you allegedly had.

Generally, the charges for possession range from misdemeanors to felonies. For instance, having less than 2 grams of a Schedule III controlled substance is a Class A misdemeanor. In contrast, having 100 pounds or more of a Schedule VI drug is a Class A felony.

In Arkansas, misdemeanors and felonies can be penalized as follows:

  • Class A misdemeanor:
    • Not more than 1 year in jail and/or
    • Not more than $2,500 in fines
  • Class D felony:
    • Not more than 6 years in prison and/or
    • Not more than $10,000 in fines
  • Class C felony:
    • 3 to 10 years in prison and/or
    • Not more than $10,000 in fines
  • Class B felony:
    • 5 to 20 years in prison and/or
    • Not more than $15,000 in fines
  • Class A felony:
    • 6 to 30 years in prison and/or
    • Not more than $15,000 in fines

Still, before your case gets to the sentencing phase, it will pass through a series of stages. Knowing what happens throughout and understanding that you have rights at each stage is important.

What Are Your Rights in a Drug Possession Case?

In a drug possession case, as with any criminal matter, you have several rights protecting you from miscarriages of the law.

One of the most well-known rights is freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. Under the Fourth Amendment, people are to be secure in their property. Law enforcement officials can’t search you, your home, your car, or other possessions unless they have a warrant or exceptions exist. If officers violate this right because they believe that you have drugs on you, any evidence they obtain may be subject to suppression in court.

Additionally, you have the right to remain silent during police questioning. If police officers have arrested you and intend to interrogate you, they must read you the Miranda warning, informing you of this right. Staying quiet during your interactions with law enforcement officials can prevent you from saying anything that could be used against you in court. And if officials didn’t read you the Miranda warning and you talked to them, your statements may be excluded from your case.

Can You Have an Attorney Represent You?

Another fundamental right in a drug possession case is that to be represented by an attorney. Having a criminal defense lawyer on your side is essential for facilitating a fair trial and seeking an optimal outcome.

An experienced attorney can provide knowledgeable advice and protect your rights throughout proceedings. As noted earlier, they can even stand up for you soon after your arrest – before charges have even been filed.

Your lawyer can also advise you about available plea bargains or diversion programs, which can result in reduced sentences or even a dismissal, depending on the circumstances.

How Do You Build a Defense Against Possession Charges?

Don't lose hope if the prosecutor decides to charge you with drug possession. Defenses may be available to fight the charge.

Possible arguments raised in drug possession cases include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Unlawful search and seizure
  • Someone else’s drugs
  • Inaccurate test results
  • Planted substances

The defenses mounted for you will be based on the facts. Your attorney will gather and analyze evidence to decide how to approach your case.

Depending on your situation, your lawyer might also negotiate plea deals or pursue a drug diversion program to seek a just result.

Schedule a Consultation Today

The criminal process after a drug possession arrest can be complex. That is why it is vital to have legal representation at each stage in your case.

To speak with a member of our Northwest Arkansas team, contact Norwood & Norwood, P.A. at (479) 235-4600.