What Might Happen if I’m Caught by Police Using Drugs?

What Might Happen if I’m Caught by Police Using Drugs?Depending upon the specifics of the drug offense, the quantity of drugs in question and where you are when the police catch you, what happens to you next could be very different. Of course, none of the options are excellent.

Regardless of the specifics, any felony will likely have a dramatic impact on your future. Many employers will not seriously consider any applicant with a felony on their record. This is often true despite the statement on applications that a felony may not exclude a person from participation in employment.

Federal Regulations for Possession and Trafficking of Drugs

There are two levels of sentencing or fines for drug possession and trafficking—federal and state. Federal regulations were established in 1986 in an attempt to capture the higher level drug traffickers, but these enforcement patterns are also applicable to others beyond the international leaders of drug cartels, extending even to the casual drug addict.

As would be expected, the penalties and jail time are contingent upon whether it is a first offense, if intent to harm was also included and the amount of drugs involved. The following[1] outlines the minimum prison sentences for those events excluding intent to harm:

  • First offense for drug trafficking with at least 1 kg heroin, 5 kg cocaine, 280 g crack, 100 g PCP, 10 g LSD, 1000 kg marijuana or 50 g meth equates to a 10-year minimum sentence.
  • First offense for drug trafficking with at least 100 g heroin, 500 g cocaine, 28 g crack, 10 g PCP, 1 g LSD, 100 kg marijuana, or 5 g meth equates to a 5-year minimum sentence.
  • First offense for drug trafficking with any Schedule I or Schedule II drug, GHB, synthetic drugs, or 1 g flunitrazepam equates to a 20-year minimum sentence.

There are also monetary fines associated with each of these offenses, moving up to a maximum of $50 million for a first offense.

The maximum federal penalties for simple possession are as follows:[2]

  • 1st offense – Not less than $1000 and up to 1 year
  • 2nd offense – Not less than $2500 and 15 days to 2 years
  • 3rd offense – Not less than $5000 and 90 days to 3 years
  • Any offense for flunitrazepam – Up to $250,000 and up to 3 years

The Role of States and Drug Courts

It is important to note that the federal regulations stated above are not required to be followed by all states. As such, the penalties from one state to the next can vary somewhat significantly. For example in Minnesota, the penalty for two ounces of marijuana can be as high as a five year jail sentences.[3] In contrast, Oregon[4] allows for small amounts of marijuana to be cultivated and possessed for personal recreational use without any penalties at all. Understanding the local laws therefore becomes very important.

Another valuable distinction is the use of drug courts.[5] Certain states have established drug courts. Drug courts are based on the understanding that placing drug addicts in the traditional penal system is not the most beneficial placement for them. Instead, drug addicts are provided with long-term intensive treatment to get at the root of the addiction. Additionally, there is accountability given by the court, random drug tests, regular court appearances and even rewards for accomplishing goals.

It Is Probably Time to Get Some Help

If you found this article due to an internet search, the odds are that you have a problem. Nobody does a search on this topic unless there is a pattern of serious drug use from you or a loved one. You are never in a good place when you are looking to understand how much damage to your life will happen if you happen to get caught. It is time for a change.

Maybe you have tried to quit on your own, and you haven’t been successful. There is no shame in coming to the realization that you are not able to do it on your own, and that is no reason to quit trying. The reality is that most individuals need help to start living a sober life.

If you find yourself at the end of your ability to battle your addiction in your own strength, there is support available. We can help you. We can answer your questions. The admissions counselors at our toll-free, 24 hour helpline can help you learn more about your mental health condition. They can help you find your way.


[1] http://famm.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Chart-All-Fed-MMs-NW.pdf, “Federal Mandatory Minimums,” accessed December 13, 2015

[2] https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL30722.pdf, “Drug Offenses: Maximum Fines and Terms of Imprisonment for Violation of the Federal Controlled Substances Act and Related Laws,” Brian T. Yeh, accessed December 13, 2015

[3] https://www.mpp.org/states/minnesota/. “Learn about Minnesota’s marijuana laws,” accessed December 13, 2015

[4] http://www.oregon.gov/olcc/marijuana/Pages/Frequently-Asked-Questions.aspx, “Recreational Marijuana FAQs,” accessed December 13, 2015

[5] http://www.nadcp.org/learn/what-are-drug-courts, “What are drug courts?,” accessed December 13, 2015