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Harsh penalties for drug convictions in Louisiana

Persons convicted of drug charges in Louisiana face harsh penalties. Lawmakers in Louisiana have outlined serious consequences for people convicted of drug crimes, including offenses for heroin, marijuana and synthetic marijuana.

Louisiana law classifies heroin, marijuana and synthetic marijuana as part of the same category of drugs, Schedule 1, and provides for the same penalties for all Schedule 1 drugs. Many may consider marijuana and synthetic marijuana to be less serious drugs than heroin, but not Louisiana lawmakers. Under Louisiana law, prosecutors presume the defendant has the intent to distribute a drug if he or she has 28 grams or more of the drug in his or her possession. Someone found with 28 grams or more of heroin and convicted of possession with intent to distribute faces the same penalties as someone found with 28 grams or more of synthetic marijuana.

Penalties for possession with intent to distribute or distribution of a Schedule 1 drug can be severe for those convicted. A conviction of such a charge will carry a minimum of five years in prison and a $50,000 fine. The penalties increase the greater the quantity of drug possessed, and a defendant can face up to 50 years in prison and a $600,000 fine.

These potential penalties are undoubtedly harsh, but a charge for a drug offense does not equal a conviction. There are many complicated and specific procedures the police are required to follow to make a legal drug arrest. An experienced defense attorney can help a person accused of a drug crime understand his or her legal rights and develop a strong legal defense.

Source: Louisiana Revised Statutes Chapter 40, Section 966, "Penalty for possession or intent to distribute narcotic drugs listed in Schedule 1," accessed Feb. 11, 2015

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