Being accused of committing a crime is no small thing. A criminal conviction can drastically affect an individual’s life, having a negative impact on his or her ability to obtain and maintain employment, housing, and education, let alone his or her freedom. Tragically, the war on drugs continues to threaten the futures of many Louisianans.

So what are the penalties for drug offenses committed in Louisiana? It really depends on the crime for which an individual is accused. For example, trafficking narcotics will lead to harsher penalties upon conviction compared to possession of a drug. Additionally, the type of drug in question may also have an effect on potential penalties. Possession of a Schedule I drug such as heroin may result in a prison sentence of between four and ten years and a fine of up to $5,000. Possession of marijuana, though, may only result in a jail sentence for up to 15 days and a fine of three hundred dollars for a first offense.

Despite the wide variation in penalties for drug crimes, they all can seriously damage an individual’s personal and professional reputation. This can be hard to remedy, meaning that there is a lot at stake when being accused of a drug crime.

What does this mean for Louisianans facing drug charges? It means they need prepare the strongest criminal defense they can, given the circumstances of their case. Every crime, including every drug crime, has elements that the prosecution must prove before a defendant can be found guilty. By attacking these elements, an individual may be able to raise doubt as to his or her guilt and thereby avoid these harsh penalties.

Source: Louisiana Legislature, “RS 40:966,” accessed on Oct. 24, 2016