Guide to Drug Possession Charges in Louisiana

guide to drug possession in Louisiana

Complete Guide To Drug Possession Charges In Louisiana

Do you want to read a guide to drug possession charges in Louisiana?  This post will explain everything you need to know.  Read on to learn more.

Louisiana Has Tough Drug Possession Laws

Did you know Louisiana has some of the toughest drug possession laws in the country? Just like their tough DWI laws, their drug possession laws can be equally debilitating.

Read more about Louisiana’s DWI laws here.

Getting caught with even the smallest amount of illegal marijuana will get you up to two weeks in jail and up to a $300 fine. If you’re caught possessing larger amounts of drugs, penalties can go up to 40 years in prison!

If you have a loved one that was caught with drugs in their vehicle, you definitely don’t want to visit them in prison for their next birthday.

Before you start stressing about holding family reunions outside the local jail, don’t worry.

We’re going to give you the basic facts you need to know about Louisiana drug laws so you’ll know how to protect your loved one.

But…It’s Just a Little Bit, Right?

Louisiana drug possession laws state that getting caught with any illegal substance is a misdemeanor or felony. This means that any amount will get a permanent mark on your criminal record.

There is also a “three strikes and you’re out” rule where the third offense becomes a felony. You do not want this to happen!

If you have these marks on your criminal record, it will be available for people to see. If you’re applying for a job, trying to buy a house, or get a loan, people will be able to see that you have drug charges. This does not bode well!

So even if the cop who arrests you says not to worry about such a small amount, you should definitely hire a criminal defense lawyer who can minimize the damage.

Louisiana Heroin Laws

Unfortunately, there is currently a heroin epidemic spreading through the country.

Heroin is one of the most addictive and dangerous drugs in the world. As a result, the penalties for possessing it are tougher than some of the other types of narcotics.

Instead of a few days in jail and a small fine, even a small possession charge will get you a minimum of four years in prison with hard labor. Accompanying fines will also be much higher.

A Note on Medical Marijuana

In recent years, Louisiana has legalized the use of medicinal marijuana for cases with severe medical conditions. As a result, laws have changed concerning possessing marijuana if you actually have a medical condition.

However, you need to get your medicinal marijuana from the proper sources. If you’re caught possessing illegally-owned marijuana of any kind, the penalties will still apply. Selling medical marijuana will also result in severe charges.

Common Drug Charges in Louisiana

drug possession charges in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
drug possession charges in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Common Questions about Louisiana Drug Laws

  • Our Experience Handling Drug Cases in Louisiana
    • We have been handling drug cases for 15 years. At one point in his career, he represented only clients charged with drug crimes for two years in a Drug Court section. Drug charges are unique crimes, since they have an entire body of law dedicated to them in Louisiana. There is a lot of interplay between drug charges, so it is basically a subsector of criminal law.
  • How Commonly Are People Arrested And Charged With Drug Crimes In Louisiana?
    • A large percentage of people in jails and prisons are charged for drug crimes. Generally, we could say that drug crimes are the most common crimes in Louisiana for which people are convicted in jails and prisons. Information from the FBI shows that there are about 400 arrests per 100,000 people in the population. In every 10 arrests made, at least one is for a drug crime, which is something around 1.25 million arrests in a year.
  • Is Marijuana Still Illegal in Louisiana?
    • Like many other states, Louisiana has been undergoing marijuana reform. Medical cannabis has been legalized for certain medical conditions, and the penalties have also been reduced for the criminal possession of the substance. The state legislature has passed a new law that has amended the diagnoses included as a “debilitating medical condition.” The following have been added, therefore, allowing a doctor to prescribe medical marijuana for “treatment”: glaucoma, Parkinson’s disease, severe muscle spasms, intractable pain, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  This will likely open the floodgates for prescriptions for medical marijuana particularly for those patients complaining of intractable pain and post-traumatic stress disorder.  Many physicians and pain clinics tend to treat the complaint of pain, never knowing if pain actually exists.
  • How Is A Drug Charge Determined To Be Either A Misdemeanor Or A Felony Charge?
    • In Louisiana, a drug charge is a felony if it is punishable by hard labor. For example, any person convicted of possession of less than two grams of cocaine shall be imprisoned, with or without hard labor, for not more than two years. They can also be fined no more than $5,000. On a first conviction of a marijuana simple possession charge, where the offender possesses 14 grams or less, the offender shall be fined no more than $300, imprisoned in the Parish jail for no more than 15 days, or both. The difference is there is no hard labor for simple possession of marijuana. Therefore, it is a misdemeanor.
  • What is an Unlawful Controlled Dangerous Substance?
    • There are five schedules of controlled substances, I, II, III, IV and V. In determining if a substance is to be added to these schedules, the Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health shall consider whether there is potential for abuse. It must be determined whether there is a lack of accepted safety for use of the substance under medical supervision, and whether the abuse of the substance may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence. It is also considered whether or not there is a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
  • What Is Considered Possession, Sale, Distribution And Intent To Distribute Unlawful Drugs?
    • Drug possession, sale, distribution, and intent to distribute are all drug crimes punishable under the Louisiana law. These crimes constitute a drug crime punishable under the Louisiana state law as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Drug crime in Louisiana is generally taken as a crime that warrants punishment. When charged with any of the offenses that make up drug crimes, it is important that you seek the legal assistance of a defense attorney to put you through and help you understand what your case is about.
  • What is Considered Drug Trafficking in Louisiana?
    • Drug trafficking charges are basically possession cases involving a very large amount of drugs. The most common scenario occurs when the offender is pulled over for a traffic violation. The officer may obtain probable cause to search through the facts and circumstances, such as a dog alerting to possible drugs. The driver may also give consent to search and a large amount of drugs are found in the vehicle. Trafficking can be prosecuted on the state or federal level and trafficking charges in federal court involve much harsher sentences than in state court in Louisiana.
  • Can Police Execute A Warrantless Search Of A Residence If They Suspect A Drug Related Offense?
    • If an officer has probable cause to believe drugs are in a home, he must obtain a search warrant before entering the home, with some exceptions.  For example, a warrantless search of a home may be legal if the officer has probable cause to arrest and exigent circumstances exist such as an emergency that justifies the immediate search without a warrant. This situation may arise when the officers must search to prevent the escape of the arrestee, avoid a violent confrontation, avoid the destruction of evidence, or protect another person.
  • Can Police Execute A Warrantless Search Of A Vehicle If They Suspect A Drug Related Offense?
    • If an officer has probable cause to believe drugs are in a vehicle and exigent circumstances exist, he can search without a warrant. This exception to the warrant requirement is provided due to the possibility that the vehicle could be moved or evidence destroyed during the time it would take for a warrant to be obtained. There is less privacy with a vehicle than a home.
  • Can A Passenger In A Motor Vehicle Face Drug Charges If Drugs Are Discovered In The Vehicle?
    • With the way, drugs are being moved in large number, and the high demand for drugs, it is common to see a lot of drivers being searched regularly, when the authorities suspect that the car might have drugs in it. When you are stopped, searched, and drugs are found itself, what happens? Can you say that you are merely a passenger? What of if everyone in the vehicles claims the same thing? What happens? Can you be prosecuted because you were in a car that has drugs in it, even when you were clueless about that? It doesn’t matter if you are in a vehicle that has an out of state plate or not, or if you were merely a driver that was contracted to carry some passengers, and you had no idea that there were drugs in the car. You may be penalized.
  • Should I Hire an Attorney Beforehand if I am Being Investigated for a Drug Crime?
    • It is always best to hire an attorney if you suspect that you are under investigation for a crime. The fact that you hire an attorney cannot be used against you in a potential trial. A judge or a jury will have no concern over whether or not you hired a lawyer early on. Hiring an attorney before being arrested may be able to keep you from even being arrested, by providing beneficial knowledge or negotiating with the police officer.
  • What Happens Within Those First 24 To 72 Hours After A Drug Related Arrest?
    • The person arrested has, from the moment of his arrest, a right to procure and confer with counsel and to use the telephone or send a message for the purpose of communicating with his family or with counsel.  Some courts authorize the use of a predetermined bail, otherwise a judge will actually have to set the bail amount. Law enforcement must present the arrestee before the judge within 72 hours, for the purpose of appointment of counsel.
  • What are Drug Related Crimes in Louisiana?
    • How will someone be charged with having drug paraphernalia? If it is shown that the object with you is used solely in taking in these illegal drugs or operating an illegal drugs warehouse, you may be charged with a criminal crime, whether there were drugs nearby or not, but the authorities would have to prove that these objects were used in handling illicit drugs.
  • How And When Do Miranda Rights Come Into Play In A Criminal Case?
    • Miranda rights go into effect only when the arrestee is actually in custody and is being interrogated by a law enforcement officer. The arrestee must have been arrested or is not free to leave, and he must be questioned or interrogated by an officer. The officer must read the rights prior to questioning an arrestee who is in custody. If the rights were not read to an arrestee in custody, then any statement the arrestee makes to the officer in response cannot be admitted in trial.
  • Will I Be Arraigned Before I Am Released From Jail On Drug Charges?
    • The arraignment takes place after the prosecutor files a Bill of Information or obtains an indictment. The prosecutor has to obtain all the reports from the arresting officer and this can take several weeks. Once he gets them, he decides whether or not he wants to prosecute. If he decides he wants to prosecute, he will file the Bill of Information or get a grand jury indictment. Then, the case will be set for an arraignment date. The only way that a defendant is arraigned while he is in jail is if he does not bond out. If you have a drug charge and need a drug crime defense attorney in Louisiana, contact us at (225) 964-6720. We handle drug charges anywhere in Louisiana.
  • What Common Mistakes Do People Make During The Arrest Phase In A Drug Case?
    • The greatest mistake you would ever make during the arrest phase of your drug case, is to wait till you get to court before getting an attorney. You actually need an attorney immediately you are arrested, so he or she will know how to help you from the very beginning. Delay can be very dangerous in this regard, as attorneys can make a very big difference in a case at the beginning. They also plan their strategies early enough to ensure that you get reduced charges.
  • How Does The Bail Bond Process Work In The Court Where My Drug Case Will Be Heard?
    • A majority of drug cases are bond-able in state court. However, in federal court, there is an assumption that drug-related cases are not bond-able. In state court, the judge may deny a defendant bail for certain reasons. That’s common anyways, as drug crimes are serious offenses, punishable by law. If a bond is accepted by the judge, he sets the bail amount within 72 hours in which the defendant is expected to pay. He can decide to hire a bail bondsman if he doesn’t have enough funds for the bail. The bail bondsman gets a nonrefundable 10% of the bail amount, after which he helps the defendant pay the bail amount.
  • How Do I Know What To Do Once I Am Released From Jail?
    • In Louisiana drug cases, you will be leaving the jail with an appearance bond paperwork. It will detail the charges and the bail amounts and bonds. The judge may order conditions of your release, such as refraining from criminal conduct and drug use. The judge may order drug tests at the courthouse. Depending on the charges you are arrested for, you will be given notice for your arraignment date. If the specific parish does not provide the notice for the arraignment date, then the notice will be served upon you at the residence provided on the bond paperwork. If you need a drug charge attorney for your drug charge in Louisiana, contact us at (225) 964-6720.  We handle drug charges anywhere in Louisiana.
  • How Often Should I Expect To Meet With My Attorney To Discuss My Drug Case?
    • You and your attorney should meet at least once over the phone or in person, to get the ball rolling with representation. The attorney should give you advice on how to proceed regarding any drug tests and/or treatment needed, as well as preparing any defenses. Your attorney will inform you of the elements of the charge and sentencing ranges. In as much as you need to communicate with the attorney handling your drug case often, you should meet with him or her at least once, for formalities sake. The attorney is well trained on how to give you legal advice concerning any drug test you may need to take. Also, he or she will keep you updated on any new development regarding your case.
  • Should I Start Voluntary Pre-Trial Counseling In My Drug Related Case?
    • Drug charges and cases are different and vary from place to place. However, you are advised to get a drug evaluation or a drug treatment once you are arrested. This will be the best thing for you to do in the early stages of your drug case. If you ever need a meeting with a pre-trial officer, it is usually 30 days after your arrest. The judge handling your drug case will put you under the watch of a bond officer, who will monitor and watch you closely during this stage, to ensure you do not indulge in any drug crimes. You should try to refrain from being in possession of any drug, as it will go a long way in helping your case.
  • What Factors Do You Consider In Determining How To Proceed In A Drug Related Case?
    • The first thing that you need to note is that with drug-related cases in Louisiana, it is not to be taken lightly and the penalties that follow these cases are usually heavy. As with any case, a close look into the circumstances and details surrounding the case is very important. The evidence and the facts are not the same with any two drug-related cases, and because of this, there are different ways that different drug-related cases can turn in Louisiana. There are different factors to be considered with every drug-related case in order to determine what the best course of action or the best strategy would be when proceeding with a case.
  • What Do Sentences Generally Look Like For Drug Offenders In Louisiana?
    • In Louisiana, when drug-related cases are considered, there is really no straight forward sentencing rule as it is rather dependent on a combination of different factors. These factors include whether the defendant is a first-time offender or a repeat offender, the actual drug charge levied against the defendant and the quality of evidence that the prosecutor has to back up the drug charge.
  • Do Most Drug Cases go to Trial or do They Plead Out?
    • Most cases settle in the end, with either a dismissal or a plea of guilty. Very few drug cases actually go to trial. There are situations where we have a suppression hearing, which is a hearing that the defense can request to try to prove that evidence the prosecutor wants to use at trial against the defendant should be suppressed from trial. The result of that suppression hearing determines whether the defendant pleads guilty or the case is dismissed. Many times, if the defendant loses the suppression hearing, the prosecutor will withdraw all offers, leaving the defendant with the only option of pleading guilty.
  • What Factors Does the Judge Consider When Determining My Drug Sentence?
    • The judge will consider all the facts and circumstances surrounding the case, including the sentencing range of the statute in which the defendant was convicted, any agreed sentence between the prosecutor and the defendant, the criminal record of the defendant, and whether a habitual offender bill was filed. Also, the facts of the case, whether or not victims were involved, the severity, whether the defendant likely to commit the crime again, any treatment completed by the defendant, any forfeitures of drug contraband, and whether or not the defendant admitted guilt. In federal court, whether the defendant helped the prosecutor is a main factor that will influence the sentence.
  • What Should I Understand About Probation in My Drug Related Case?
    • When a defendant is convicted of a crime, whether it is a misdemeanor or felony, the judge must sentence him. The judge usually will sentence the defendant to serve jailtime for a specified period of time. In the judge’s discretion, he can suspend the jail sentence and place the defendant on probation. Essentially, the judge is giving the defendant a second chance.
  • How Does a Prior Arrest or Conviction Impact My Case?
    • Prior convictions are very important. It is highly necessary that the client inform their attorney during their first conversation of exactly what he has been arrested and convicted of, in all states, even if the client thinks the conviction was expunged. The prosecutor will still be able to see it. If the client is honest with the attorney early on, regarding his criminal record, the attorney can give better, more realistic advice regarding any possible outcomes of the case.
  • What Steps Can I Take Prior To Sentencing Hearing to Help My Case?
    • With an increasing number of people being charged with criminal cases, you will find it depressing to know that most of them have been sent to jail because they failed to take the necessary steps to help their case before their hearing in the courtroom. Some, on the other hand, have suffered greatly as they have been made to pay huge fines because of their actions. This has become one of the main issues that criminal case offenders have had to deal with. To enable these ones to ensure that they do not play a part in their sentencing, we have come up with viable steps that should be taken before their sentencing hearing.
  • Are There Alternative Punishments to Jail That I May Qualify For?
    • There are many options for resolving drug cases, other than going to jail. Since each case is different and each defendant is different, each outcome is different. After examining the case, options can include deferred adjudication, mitigation with the prosecutor, probation, drug court, diversion, and also orders to reside at rehabilitative residency programs. If you have a drug possession case and need a drug possession defense attorney in Louisiana, contact us at (225) 964-6720.  We handle drug possession cases anywhere in Louisiana.
  • How do I Beat a Drug Charge in Louisiana?
    • The way to beat a drug charge in Louisiana is to have a good defense. The legality of the police officer’s investigation is the first defense we consider. The defendant has constitutional rights against unreasonable search and seizure. If the officer violated those rights, we attempt to prove this at a suppression hearing before trial. If the judge believes the search and/or seizure was illegal, he may order the evidence to be suppressed from use at trial. Many times, this can make the prosecutor’s case fall apart, which can lead to a dismissal.
  • Is It Possible to Have My Drug Charges Dropped or Reduced?
    • This is one of the popular questions those charged with drug cases have asked over time. While most are not aware, there’s a chance that their drug charges may be dropped or reduced depending on certain factors. One of the reasons why it is important that your drug charges are dropped or reduced is to ensure that you do not end up in jail. For those that have been charged with one or more drug cases, they would need to have their charges reduced if they do not want to spend more time than expected behind bars. This is because prior drug convictions have proven to have a great impact on the penalties that they are to face.
  • I Was Just Arrested for Marijuana Possession. Do I Really Need an Attorney to Represent Me in A Case Like This?
    • You’ve just been arrested for possession of marijuana, and you might be wondering if indeed you need to hire a professional attorney to represent you in court and we are here to tell you yes! Indeed, you do need an attorney to represent you in court for a lot of reasons. First of all, what should you expect if you are being arrested for drug possession? If perhaps the police come to you and give you the announcement that you are under arrest? Sometimes, these drugs are used in having fun, but they are illegal and have a lot of penalties and fines attached to them.
  • What Qualities Should I Look for In A Criminal Defense Attorney to Represent Me in My Drug Related Case?
    • The most important quality of an attorney is that he has experience defending drug cases in Louisiana. Drug cases are not like most other criminal defense cases. They are highly unique, with specific laws that are interconnected. Drug cases have a lot of constitutional issues not found as often in sex crime, burglary, or DWI cases. It is also very important that your attorney has significant trial experience. Your defense attorney should have great knowledge of substance abuse treatment and process as well as established connections.
  • What Specifically Sets You and Your Firm Apart in Handling Drug Cases in Louisiana?
    • I have spent years representing only clients charged with drug crimes. I have a great understanding of drug addiction, treatment, and recovery. I know how to negotiate with prosecutors, because I use treatment and constitutional issues to my advantage. I know what is important to prosecutors and judges. I am knowledgeable enough to educate other attorneys and write publications regarding drug laws and drug defense in the state of Louisiana.

drug defense lawyer louisiana

Hire a Highly Experienced Attorney on Louisiana Drug Laws

If your loved one was caught possessing drugs, there are bound to be consequences. But Carl Barkemeyer, a Baton Rouge drug defense attorney with years of experience, can help you. He is very familiar with the Louisiana drug laws and his office always stays up-to-date.

There are many more details concerning Louisiana drug laws and you need to have a good lawyer on your side. Even for a small possession charge, an attorney can help keep the damage as low as possible.

So contact us if you need any help concerning the drug laws in one of the toughest states in the country! Call Carl Barkemeyer, Criminal Defense Attorney at 225-964-6720.  We look forward to your call.

We hope you have enjoyed our guide to drug possession charges in Louisiana and wish you the best.