Drug-Related Charges in Utah

Interviewer: For drug-related crimes, what are the charges you encounter most frequently?

Possession and Distribution Are the Most Common Charges with Distribution the More Serious of the Two

Court Koehler: I see both distribution and possession cases.  Obviously cases that are more serious are the distribution as opposed to common possession cases. I would say that you see almost as many drug possession cases as you do DUI’s.  There are quite a few.

Possession Charges Usually Concern a Small Amount of Drugs; Possession of a Controlled Substance without a Prescription Is another Common Charge

For the most part, the possession cases concern small amounts of drugs.  Most of the time it’s marijuana but it can be any drug obviously.  You also see quite a few charges for prescription drugs and ones that you don’t have a prescription for.  That charge is Possession of a controlled substance without a prescription.  Drugs like Ambien or Zoloft, Xanax, are commonly attributed to those types of cases.

Many Drugs Are Classified as Controlled Substances and Are Illegal to Possess Unless You Have a Prescription

Interviewer: Which drugs are commonly involved in the cases you handle?

Court Koehler:  Ambien is pretty common and Xanax, and Zoloft.  Hydrocodone is a common drug but any prescription drug is considered a controlled substance just like marijuana is.  It’s illegal for you to have it unless you have a prescription.

DUI and Drug-Related Charges: Many Drug-Related Investigations Originate with a Suspected DUI Stop

Typically with the prescription drug cases it tends to be in connection with a DUI most of the time.  You’ll get pulled over for DUI or suspicion of a DUI and the officers begin an investigation. In the course of that investigation, the officer discovers evidence of you having a prescription drug.  Maybe he views a bottle in your vehicle.  A lot of times that is how that starts out.

Interviewer: Does it usually occur during a traffic stop?

Court Koehler: Most of the time, it is during a traffic stop.  You can see it in other kinds of ways but in particular with possession of prescription drugs, you’ll see it in connection with traffic stops more often. This is because unlike something like marijuana or methamphetamine you don’t have drug paraphernalia that the officer might find.

You don’t have an odor of marijuana that the officer might smell.  The evidence is usually uncovered searching the car. The officer isn’t going to smell the Ambien so he’s going to have to find it in a search.

I think it is more common for that to occur during a traffic stop just for that reason because quite often, you get stopped and your car will be searched.

By Court Koehler

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