It can feel hopeless if you’re arrested for drug possession, accused of selling drugs, or are facing other drug-related charges. But there’s a lot an Indianapolis drug lawyer can do to help.
Hessler Law has extensive experience handling Indiana drug charges, and we are ready to protect your record, future, and freedom. Your Indianapolis drug attorney will review the evidence, negotiate to reduce or dismiss the charges and fight for you in court if necessary.
For a free and confidential consultation with an Indianapolis drug charge lawyer at Hessler Law, call 317-886-8800.
Why Hire a Drug Attorney
Possession, trafficking, sale, and other acts associated with illegal drugs are no joking matter. Many are prosecuted as felonies with very harsh consequences. If convicted, you face years behind bars, hefty fines, and a permanent criminal record.
Because of the severe consequences, it is vital to seek qualified legal representation if you plan to refute the charges and pursue the best possible resolution.
What an Indianapolis Drug Attorney Can Do
You are innocent until proven guilty of a drug crime. However, you need someone on your side. Below are some advantages of hiring an Indianapolis drug attorney:
- Criminal Defense Experience – When you are charged with a drug crime, you want someone with prior criminal defense experience. While all attorneys are trained in the law, a lawyer with specific knowledge and skills will be more beneficial in your time of need.
- Knowledge of the Criminal System – The criminal justice system in Indianapolis is no playground. One of the advantages of hiring a drug attorney is that you can rely on their intimate knowledge of the criminal system. Your lawyer will understand the complex procedures and will be your guide at every stage of your case.
- Strong Legal Team – When you hire a criminal defense drug attorney, you also get a legal team that works behind the scenes researching, investigating, and preparing your case. That solid legal support is critical to how your attorney can carry out his duties in court.
- Negotiation Skills – Persuasiveness is not a given talent of all lawyers. A criminal defense lawyer needs to have negotiation skills, which are critical in plea bargaining. An effective plea bargain could result in lower charges or penalties.
- Sentence Mitigation – If you decide to plead guilty or you are found guilty after your trial, you will need a lawyer who can mitigate on your behalf at your sentencing hearing. Having a lawyer present with the required knowledge and experience can make a significant difference.
At Hessler Law, we are experienced professionals with intimate knowledge of drug laws and the court system. For years, we have provided high-quality legal service to individuals who have found themselves charged with Indianapolis drug offenses.
Call 317-886-8800 to set up a free consultation with a drug charge defense lawyer.
Indianapolis Drug Charges
Indiana Drug charges are divided into categories, including drug possession, manufacturing, and drug dealing. There are specific statutes in the Indiana Criminal Code that address drug offenses related to particular drugs, such as cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana. At the same time, others address a broad spectrum of controlled substances.
Indiana Controlled Substance Schedules
Indiana’s controlled substance schedule categorizes drugs based on their perceived danger, medical usefulness or lack thereof, and potential for addiction.
There are five controlled substances schedules in Indiana, with Schedule I listing the most dangerous drugs and Schedule V the least dangerous. However, depending on the circumstances, even the least dangerous controlled substances may lead to drug charges in Indiana.
- Schedule I – Drugs on this schedule are considered to have the highest potential for abuse and addiction and the least medical benefit. Examples of Schedule I controlled substances include heroin, marijuana, ecstasy, and LSD.
- Schedule II – Drugs on this schedule are considered to have a high potential for abuse and addiction and some medical benefits but with restrictions. Examples of Schedule II controlled substances include narcotic pain medicines such as codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, or morphine, and cocaine, crack, meth, and PCP.
- Schedule III – Drugs on this schedule are considered to have a moderate potential for abuse and addiction and accepted medical use. Examples of Schedule III substances include lower doses of codeine, anabolic steroids, and ketamine.
- Schedule IV – Drugs on this schedule are considered to have a low potential for abuse and addiction and accepted medical use. Examples of Schedule IV substances include Ambien, Xanax, Valium, or pain medication Darvocet.
- Schedule V – Drugs on this schedule are considered to have the lowest potential for abuse and addiction in relation to other drug schedules and accepted medical use. An example of a Schedule V substance includes very low doses of codeine.
Felony Drug Charges in Indiana
Indiana drug felonies are some of the most severe charges you could face. The type and amount of the drug in question, your previous criminal record, and other aggravating factors will determine whether you are charged with a drug felony in Indiana.
Penalties for Felony Drug Charges
Felonies are categorized into six different Levels. Level 6 felonies are the least severe type of felony and carry the least severe penalties. Conversely, Level 1 felonies are the most severe felony you could face, and they have the harshest penalties.
For example, if you were arrested for being in possession of fewer than three grams of cocaine, you could face Level 6 felony charges. But if you had more than three grams and happened to be arrested within 1,000 feet of a school, you could instead face Level 3 felony charges.
Felony drug convictions are always going to produce more severe penalties than misdemeanors. You must get an experienced Indianapolis drug attorney to defend you so you can clear your name and get back to your life.
Drug Crime Penalties
Drug charges can be felonies or misdemeanors, but in either case, a conviction can result in several long-term consequences that may include:
- A lengthy jail or prison sentence, perhaps decades
- Thousands of dollars in fines
- A permanent criminal record as a drug offender
- Loss of your job or trouble finding a job
- Difficulty getting approved for rental housing
- Loss or denial of a professional license if you want to work as a teacher, doctor, lawyer, nurse, pharmacist, financial professional, or other career requiring a state license
- Loss of eligibility for federal financial aid if you want to seek or finish a college degree
- Loss of your immigration visa or green card, denial of citizenship, and possible deportation if you’re a non-U.S. citizen
The penalties for a drug conviction in Indiana heavily depend on various things. It could be the type of drug, whether the offense was committed while you had a firearm, or whether the offense happened near a place like a school.
Here are some of the more specific consequences you could face if you are convicted of certain types of Indianapolis drug crimes:
Possession of Marijuana
In Indiana, you can be charged with possession of marijuana for knowingly or intentionally possessing the drug itself, growing or cultivating marijuana plants, or knowing that someone is growing marijuana on your premises and failing to destroy the plants.
Possession of fewer than 30 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor for a first offense. This is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. A second or subsequent offense involving thirty grams or more can be a higher-level misdemeanor or felony, punishable by six months to two and a half years of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000.
Possession of Meth, Cocaine & Narcotics
Possessing methamphetamine, cocaine, and narcotics like heroin are felonies in Indiana. The class of felony and possible penalties vary depending on the amount involved and whether you committed the offense on a school bus or near a school, park, youth center, or family housing complex.
- Under three grams is a Level 6 felony punishable by six months to two and a half years of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000.
- It would be a Level 5 felony, punishable by one to six years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000, if it involved three to 10 grams or less than three grams on a school bus or within 500 feet of a school, park, family housing complex, or youth center.
- It would be a Level 4 felony, punishable by two to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 if the offense involved 10 to 28 grams, or three to 10 grams on a school bus or within 500 feet of a school, park, family housing complex, or youth center.
- It would be a Level 3 felony, punishable by three to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 if the offense involved 28 grams or more, or 10 to 28 grams on a school bus or within 500 feet of a school, park, family housing complex, or youth center.
Dealing & Selling Drugs
You may be charged with dealing controlled substances when you knowingly or intentionally manufacture, fund the manufacture, deliver, or fund the delivery of any controlled substance listed on Schedules I, II, III, IV, or V except for marijuana, hashish, or synthetic cannabinoids, or possess a controlled substance with the intent of dealing.
Most offenses for selling drugs are felonies. The class of felony and penalties vary depending on the amount involved, whether a minor was involved, or whether the offense was committed near a school, park, youth center, or family housing complex, or on a school bus.
Drug paraphernalia in Indiana includes any instrument, device, or object used to introduce illegal drugs into the body, test its strength, or enhance its effect. A person who knowingly possesses drug paraphernalia commits a Class C misdemeanor for a first offense and a Class A misdemeanor for a subsequent offense.
Possession or Sale of Drug Precursors
It’s illegal in Indiana to possess more than an allowed quantity of certain chemicals that can be used to manufacture drugs such as methamphetamine. Possession or sale of drug precursors is a felony, and possible penalties depend on factors such as:
- The nature of the precursor
- Whether you had a firearm at the time
- Whether it happened near a school, park, youth center, family housing complex, or on a school bus
Defending Against Drug Charges in Indianapolis
When you’re charged with a drug offense, there may be complicated issues involving evidence and the law. Many drug cases are built on evidence obtained through searches and seizures or from confidential informants, and charges can be the result of lengthy, multi-layered investigations.
If you’re facing a drug charge, it’s critical that you have an Indianapolis drug lawyer explain the investigative process and challenge improper evidence so that your rights are protected. Here are some defenses that may be appropriate for your case.
You Were Not Legally in Possession of the Drugs
Your first defense against drug charges is to challenge the claim that drugs were in your possession. Under Indiana law, there are two forms of possession: actual possession and constructive possession.
Actual Possession – This means that you have the drug in your possession on your person. If you’re rolling a joint and have marijuana in your hand, that’s actual possession. It’s also actual possession if you have drugs in your pocket or a bag you’re carrying.
Constructive Possession – This means that the drugs weren’t on your person but were within your dominion and control. Dominion and control mean that you can take actual possession any time you want.
Constructive possession could include having a packet of meth in your kitchen drawer or the glove box of your car. You also might be in constructive possession of a controlled substance if you give it to a friend to hold for you, but it’s clear that you retain ownership.
Challenging Constructive Possession
If you share an apartment with a roommate and the drugs were found in the kitchen or bathroom, your lawyer may be able to raise doubt that your roommate could have been the one who constructively possessed the drugs.
Illegal Drug Stops
A lot of drug cases start with traffic stops. You get pulled over for some infraction like a broken taillight or an expired license plate, and then the officer asks to search your car. However, the officer must have a legitimate reason to pull you over in the first place. This is known as reasonable suspicion.
The officer has to have a reasonable suspicion of some kind of violation or criminal activity in order to pull you over. An expired license plate is enough, but there must be a reason.
If an officer pulls you over without a valid reason, then anything that flows from that stop can be called into question.
Illegal Drug Searches
Searches that turn up drugs, scales, cash, or other items associated with drug use or trafficking are the cornerstones of a prosecution for an Indiana drug charge. However, you have several constitutional rights when it comes to investigators searching you or your property.
When Police Can Search Your Property
Under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article 1, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution, you have protection from unreasonable searches and seizures. That means that if the police want to search you or your property, they must get a warrant unless these circumstances exist:
- You consented to the search
- There is evidence of the alleged crime in plain sight
- You were being arrested, in which case police are allowed to search you and any area within your arm’s reach
- Imminent danger to someone’s life or property required police to enter
- Any member of the public could access the property, such as garbage you set out on the curb
Police Must Have Probable Cause to Search Your Property
The Fourth Amendment also says that a search warrant must be based on probable cause. In other words, the police must have evidence to connect you or the property to a crime. They also have to know at least generally what they’re looking for, such as evidence of a drug transaction.
It’s important to understand that your case won’t be automatically dismissed by a judge because of a bad search. Still, prosecutors aren’t supposed to be allowed to use evidence obtained through an illegal search.
Other Drug Defenses
Your attorney might be able to argue several other defenses depending on your charges, including:
- Entrapment – Law enforcement may have coerced you into committing a drug-related offense.
- Emergency Scenarios – If you possessed drugs during an emergency where you saved another’s life, you might receive leniency due to Good Samaritan laws.
- Misplaced Evidence – In this scenario, the prosecution cannot present the drugs in question, and the drugs are missing.
- Lab Finds You Didn’t Have Drugs – There are cases where lab results show that the “drugs” in question may not even be drugs, or they could be legal prescription drugs.
How Hessler Law Handles Drug Charges
With Attorney Sean Hessler’s background as a former prosecutor, he benefits from having worked drug cases from both the prosecution’s perspective and as a defense attorney.
We know how to handle inappropriate search and seizure issues – and will put that experience to work for you. From the beginning, we will make sure you get the fair due process you’re entitled to under the law.
We’ll examine the entire police investigation and the prosecutor’s case to find any flaws in the evidence and arguments against you. From there, we’ll work to ensure that any evidence collected illegally can’t be used against you.
At Hessler law, we strongly believe in your right to have your side of the story heard and to be treated fairly and justly throughout the process. Let us discuss your case and fight to get the best possible outcome.
Indianapolis Drug Crime FAQ
When you have been arrested on drug charges in Indianapolis, it is normal to be worried about your future. Hessler Law wants to help you get through this challenging time by answering some of the top questions.
Will I Always Go to Jail for Drug Crimes?
You may go to jail if you are convicted of a drug crime in Indianapolis. But with the right legal defender, you could clear your name and dodge a guilty verdict. Some people may be acquitted, while others may benefit from working with the prosecutor to obtain a plea agreement.
Your attorney can further advise you about how to proceed to obtain the most favorable outcome in your case.
Can a Drug Crime Conviction Be Expunged in Indiana?
Under particular circumstances, you may be able to get your drug crime conviction expunged in Indiana. But it will depend on the type of crime you were convicted of and whether you qualify.
Most misdemeanor and low-level felony drug crimes may be eligible for expungement. Contact our office to find out whether you meet the requirements.
What if the Drugs Weren’t Mine?
If the drugs weren’t yours, your Indianapolis drug attorney will need to work on building a solid defense that proves beyond a reasonable doubt that you should be found not guilty.
The constructive possession defense may be appropriate in cases like these. But your lawyer will devise a powerful defense strategy based on the evidence in your case.
When Will You Be Charged With a Federal Drug Crime?
You can face drug charges at both the state and federal levels. But you could reasonably expect to be charged federally if there are large amounts of drugs involved in your case or in situations where drugs have been transported across state lines.
What if I Have a Medical Marijuana Prescription From Another State?
The state of Indiana does not currently prohibit marijuana possession for recreational or medicinal uses. Even if you have a prescription for medical marijuana from another state, you need to follow Indiana drug laws.
You may be at risk for serious drug charges if you have marijuana in your possession, despite your out-of-state medical marijuana prescription.