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Drug Possession Attorney - Utah Criminal Defense Attorney

Consequences of a Utah drug possession conviction can include in jail or prison time, thousands of dollars in fines, losing your driver's license, and a variety of probation conditions and restrictions. Stephen Howard is a Utah criminal defense attorney with extensive experience dealing with Utah drug cases. He has successfully defended cases ranging from first-degree felony drug distribution to simple misdemeanor possession of marijuana. He has a track record of achieving real results for his clients. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.

Penalties for Drug Possession Charges in Utah

Drug possession charges in Utah can be filed as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending mainly on what drug is involved.

If case involves a drug classified under Utah Code Ann. 58-37-4 as either a Schedule I controlled substance (e.g. heroin or psilocybin mushrooms) or a Schedule II controlled substance (e.g. cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, or other opiates), then the default level for the charge will be a third-degree felony. Charges for possession of most other controlled substances (Schedule III, Schedule IV, or Schedule V) begin at the class B misdemeanor level.

Charges for possession of marijuana presents a significant exception to the "Schedule" rules. While marijuana is technically a Schedule I controlled substance, possession of less than one ounce of marijuana begins at the class B misdemeanor level. Possession of between one and sixteen ounces of marijuana begins as a class A misdemeanor. Possession of more than sixteen ounces of marijuana can be charged as a felony, even without any evidence of distribution or the intent to distribute. While marijuana possession for medical use or even personal recreational use has been legalized in some states, Utah continues to prosecute marijuana possession.

Enhancements for Utah Drug Possession Charges

The level of a drug possession charge in Utah can be enhanced for a number of reasons, including prior convictions, if the offense occurs in a "drug free zone," or if a person is found in possession of a controlled substance in a correctional facility. These enhancements can be "stacked" - which could result in a first-degree felony charge with life in prison as a maximum penalty for even a simple possession charge (not distribution or the intent to distribute). Possession of a controlled substance when a child is present or even just nearby can also result in an additional criminal charge of child endangerment.

If police or prosecutors believe that a person has distributed drugs, or possessed drugs "with the intent to distribute," the stakes go up substantially. Either distribution or possession with the intent to distribute can be filed as a second degree felony (1-15 years prison) and can be enhanced to the first degree level (five years to life in prison) under some circumstances.

Choosing a Criminal Attorney in Utah

If you are facing criminal prosecution for drug possession, you need an experienced drug defense attorney on your side.  Based in Salt Lake City, criminal defense attorney Stephen Howard has extensive experience defending drug charges, working with clients who are struggling with addiction, and in working with Utah's felony drug court system.

Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.


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  • Criminal Defense Trial AttorneyNot Guilty - Client was charged with aggravated assault for allegedly pointing handgun at and threatening another driver during a road rage incident. Defense investigation and analysis, combined with effective cross-examination at trial indicated the alleged victim was the initial aggressor and suported client's self-defense claim. Jury acquitted client at trial.
  • Criminal Appeals Defense AttorneyDismissed on Appeal - DUI case was dismissed after a successful appeal where the Utah Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's denial of the defense motion to suppress. Without the suppressed evidence, the prosecutor acknowledged that they did not have sufficient evidence to proceed to trial and the case was dismissed.
  • Utah Expungement Attorney Expungement - Worked to restore client's expungement eligibility through 402 reduction process, then filed successful expungement petitions in multiple courts obtaining expungement orders and clearing client's official criminal history.
  • 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

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