Interviewer: What are some of the common misconceptions that people have about drug-related crimes?
Many People Are Unaware of the Penalties Associated with Drug-Related Charges
Court: For my clients, the main issue they are worried about is how much trouble they are in. They want to know what situation they have gotten themselves into if they’ve been charged with a crime and what penalties they are facing.
Some people are afraid that they going to have to do jail term. A drug violation is a very serious offence. This is true even if it’s one of the less serious charges like marijuana possession. It still can entail a jail term but in the vast majority of cases you don’t see a lot of actual jail terms.
While Many Drug Charges Entail Jail Sentences, the Prosecutors Are More Likely to Offer a Favorable Plea Bargain
Prosecutors have a lot more leeway when it comes to drug violations and plea bargains. Many times they offer ones that are more favorable than other crimes, for instance, DUIs. I think DUIs in many ways are more serious than a first time drug offense.
DUIs Are Likely to Be More Aggressively Prosecuted than Many Drug-Related Offenses
There are a certain amount of minimum enquiries for a DUI and there are certain policies that the prosecutor’s office is following regarding the prosecution of DUIs. They make it very tough on people, even if it is their first offense.
If you have multiple drug violations, then the associated penalties become more serious. There is a higher likelihood that you’re going to suffer some serious consequences, for instance a jail term.
Methamphetamine Cases Are Less Common in Utah
Interviewer: Have you ever worked with clients facing methamphetamine charges?
Court: Yes, yes I have; it’s less common but you do see it.
Interviewer: Is that treated any differently than cocaine or other drugs?
Methamphetamine Charges Are Considered Serious and Are Less Likely to Be Subject to a Favorable Plea Bargain
Court: I would say that it is definitely treated differently and more seriously. I think that it stems not necessarily from the difference in the law as much as it the politics or the stigma of methamphetamine use. Particularly in counties outside of Salt Lake County or Utah County, where they are worried about drug trafficking, they really try to crack down on those heavier drugs like methamphetamine.
Whether it’s because of a desire to stop the drug trafficking here or whether it’s just because they feel that the drugs are more serious, the judges might tend to be harder on you. The prosecutors might be less willing to work out a plea bargain. It’s definitely a very serious charge if you have a methamphetamine problem.