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Utah Criminal Defense Attorney - Heroin Possession

Because heroine is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance (under Utah Code 58-37-4), criminal charges for possession of heroin in Utah begin at the third degree felony level. With enhancements, the level of the offense can be even higher. If you are facing drug charges in Utah, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to help give you the best chance of avoiding prison or jail time and keeping a felony conviction off your record. Based in Salt Lake City and serving clients throughout Utah, criminal lawyer Stephen Howard has successfully defended criminal drug charges ranging from simple possession to first degree distribution. Contact us today for an initial consultation.

Enhanced Heroin Possession Charges in Utah

Possession of Heroin and Drug Paraphernalia UtahHeroin possession charges can carry enhanced penalties under Utah law for reasons that may include the following: the offense occurred within a drug-free zone; the circumstances indicated an intent to distribute heroin; or prior convictions for distribution of or the intent to distribute a controlled substance. A singe enhancement can increase the level of the charge to the second degree felony level (one to fifteen years in prison); multiple enhancements can raise even a straight possession charge to the first degree felony level (up to life in prison). While it is rare to see straight possession charges filed as a first degree felony level, a one level enhancement for a drug-free zone violation is common - especially in urban counties along the Wasatch Front.

"Drug-free zones" are defined under Utah law as being anywhere within 1,000 feet of any specifically listed kinds of places, including: churches, schools, parks, libraries, shopping centers, theaters, etc. To determine what areas are considered drug-free zones, you could draw a circle with a radius of 1,000 feet around each of these locations. Any area covered by one of these circles would be a drug-free zone. In densely populated areas (such as Salt Lake County, Weber County, Utah County, etc.), it may be difficult to find an area that is not a drug-free zone. While many heroin possession charges could be charged with a drug-free zone enhancement, prosecutors have discretion in determining whether to pursue the enhancement. A prosecutor may be much more likely to pursue the enhancement, for example, if a person is found shooting heroin at an elementary school playground as compared with a person who is charged for possession of heroin in a distant location only barely within the drug-free zone.

Potential Defenses to Heroin Possession Charges in Utah

When facing heroin or other drug charges, your defense attorney needs to consider a variety of legal issues, including: Fourth Amendment search and seizure issues; Fifth Amendment (Miranda) issues; evidentiary issues, which may include witness reliability, constructive possession, confidential informants, etc. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you understand whether or not your case presents defenses that make the case a good candidate for trial.

Trial v. Negotiated Resolutions in Utah Heroin Possession Cases

Any person charged with drug possession or other crimes in Utah has the right to have the case heard by a jury at trial. But in some circumstances, your prospects of avoiding prison or jail time and keeping a felony conviction off your record may be improved by engaging the prosecutor in settlement negotiations to see if an alternative resolution to the case is possible. An experienced criminal drug crimes attorney can help you determine the best options for defending your case.

Addiction in Utah Drug Cases

If you are facing drug charges, you should also seriously and honestly consider any addiction or substance abuse challenges that you may be facing personally. Heroin addiction addiction can be particularly difficult to fight on your own, and getting involved in an appropriate treatment program or counseling may greatly improve your chances of being able to beat an addiction. If you are convicted and placed on probation for a drug charge, it is almost certain that the judge will require drug treatment as a condition of probation. But getting involved in treatment before you are ordered to do so by the court can greatly improve your chances of convincing the prosecutor that you deserve a plea in abeyance, probation, or a reduced misdemeanor charge.

Some people have expressed concern that their involvement in treatment may be used against them at trial. This is not the case. If you decide to take your case to trial, your involvement in treatment after being charged cannot be used against you at trial to try to show that you are a drug addict or that you are otherwise guilty of a crime.

Choosing a Criminal Defense Attorney in Utah

As an experienced Utah drug crimes defense attorney based in Salt Lake City, Stephen Howard can help you explore the various options and issues involved in defending a drug possession case. He is one of only a few criminal defense attorneys now in private practice who has previously served as defense counsel for a Utah felony drug court program. His track record in defending clients in Utah criminal cases includes dismissals, not guilty verdicts, and appellate reversals in serious felony and misdemeanor cases.

Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.


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  • Selected Victories
  • Criminal Defense Trial AttorneyNot Guilty - Client was charged with aggravated assault for alleged attack using broken bottle as a weapon. Despite the testimony of numerous prosecution witnesses, thorough defense investigation to support a self-defense claim resulted in acquittal by jury at trial.
  • Minor Possession Alcohol - MIP AttorneyDismissed - Minor in possession charge (MIP) was dismissed by prosecutor when defense analysis demonstrated that the police had failed to obtain necessary evidence against client. Police had raided a large party involving underage drinking. Several individuals were charged, but police did not obtain evidence showing that client had personally consumed or possessed alcohol. Case was dismissed.
  • Utah 402 Reduction Attorney Felony Reduced - Client with prior felony conviction was granted a 402 reduction to the misdemeanor level over the objection of the prosecutor. Based on information provided to the court in support of the defense motion, the judge ruled in favor of the defense.
  • Violent Crimes Assalt Defense UtahDismissed at Preliminary Hearing - Client charged with aggravated robbery and facing life in prison. Full case analysis and consultation with client allowed the development of a strong defense strategy. Effective cross-examination of the alleged victim at the preliminary hearing resulted in an outright dismissal of all charges by the judge.
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Serving Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Utah, Cache, Tooele, Summit, Box Elder, and Wasatch Counties, and all of Utah.

Attorney Stephen Howard practices as part of the Canyons Law Group, LLC and Stephen W. Howard, PC.

Offices in Salt Lake and Davis Counties
560 South 300 East, Suite 200, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
952 S. Main St., Suite A, Layton, UT 84041

Call now to arrange for a confidential initial consultation with an experienced and effective Utah criminal defense lawyer.

In Salt Lake City, call 801-449-1409.
In Davis County, call 801-923-4345.

Stephen W. Howard, PC

The materials in this website are intended for informational purposes only, and are not legal advice. Viewing or responding to materials in this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. Read Full Disclaimer.