Indianapolis Drug Lawyer
Indianapolis drug charges are serious and Indiana is far from lenient when it comes to drug convictions. It can feel hopeless if you’re arrested for drug possession or accused of selling drugs, but there’s a lot an Indianapolis drug lawyer can do to help.
With extensive experience handling Indiana drug charges, criminal defense attorney Sean Hessler is ready to protect your record, future, and freedom. Attorney Hessler 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 Indianapolis drug attorney Sean Hessler, 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, large fines, and a permanent criminal record.
Because of the serious consequences, it is important 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 strong legal support is critical to how your attorney is able to carry out his duties in court.
Negotiation skills – Persuasiveness is not a given talent of all lawyers. It is especially important for a criminal defense lawyer 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.
Indianapolis Drug Charges
Indiana Drug charges are divided into categories like drug possession, manufacturing, and drug dealing. There are specific statutes in the Indiana Criminal Code that address drug offenses related to cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana, while others address a wide 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, even the least dangerous controlled substances may lead to drug charges in Indiana, depending on the circumstances.
- 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 benefit but with restrictions. Examples of Schedule II controlled substances include narcotic pain medicines such as codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, or morphine, and drugs such as 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.
Drug Crime Penalties
Many drug offenses are felonies under Indiana law, and a conviction can result in a number of 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 exact penalties for a drug conviction in Indiana heavily depend based on the type of drug, the amount involved, whether the offense involved a minor, whether the offense was committed while you possessed a firearm, or whether the offense was committed near a school, park, family housing complex, or youth center.
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 less than 30 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor for a first offense, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. A second or subsequent offense involving 30 grams or more can be a higher level misdemeanor or felony, punishable by 6 months to 2 ½ 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 by whether you committed the offense on a school bus, or near a school, park, youth center, or family housing complex.
- Under 3 grams is a Level 6 felony punishable by 6 months to 2 ½ years of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000.
- It’s a Level 5 felony, punishable by 1 to 6 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000, if it involved 3 to 10 grams or less than 3 grams on a school bus or within 500 feet of a school, park, family housing complex, or youth center.
- It’s a Level 4 felony, punishable by 2 to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 if the offense involved 10 to 28 grams, or 3 to 10 grams on a school bus or within 500 feet of a school, park, family housing complex, or youth center.
- It’s a Level 3 felony, punishable by 3 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, and 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, the amount involved, whether you also possessed a firearm at the time, or whether the offense was committed near a school, park, youth center, family housing complex, or on a school bus.
Defending Against Drug Charges
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.
Drug Possession Defenses
To convict you of drug possession, a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intentionally had the drug in your possession. To break that down a little more, a prosecutor has to prove:
- You were in possession
- Of a controlled substance
- That you knew was a controlled substance
- And you intended to possess it
If the prosecutor can’t prove this, then you may be acquitted, have your case dismissed, or be able to negotiate to have your charge or penalties reduced.
Sometimes police or lab techs might misidentify a substance and a false positive result may show that it’s a drug when it really isn’t. If your defense lawyer can show that the substance wasn’t actually an illegal drug, you may have a chance at fighting the charge. You also may have a chance at fighting the charge if you didn’t know you were in possession, for example, if a friend slipped the drug into your bag without your knowledge.
Another way to attack an allegation that you were in possession of drugs is to challenge that first idea that “You were in possession.” There are two ways you can be in possession of a drug: actual possession and constructive possession.
Actual possession is just what the term implies. You actually 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 in a bag you’re carrying.
Constructive possession means that the drugs weren’t on your person, but were within your dominion and control. Dominion and control mean that you could take actual possession any time you want.
Constructive possession could include having a packet of meth in your kitchen drawer, or in the glove box of your car. You own it and can retrieve it even though it’s not in your hands at that exact moment. 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.
When constructive possession can be challenged is when some other person had access to the place or property where the drugs were found. 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. If the search turns up evidence of drugs, you may be arrested for possession, transportation, or some other Indiana drug offense.
However, the officer has to 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 has to 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 often are the cornerstones of a prosecution for an Indiana drug charge. However, you have a number of constitutional rights when it comes to investigators searching you or 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 have to 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
- An 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.
The Fourth Amendment also says that a search warrant has to be based on probable cause. In other words, the police have to have some 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. Police can’t use a search warrant to go on a fishing expedition in your home just because they might have a hunch that you possessed some heroin or sold some marijuana. Again, there has to be some evidence, which could include testimony from a confidential informant or evidence that police pulled out of your trash.
When your rights are violated because law enforcement officers searched you or your property without a warrant, or the search warrant was not based on probable cause, there are supposed to be consequences for that. It’s important to understand that your case won’t be automatically dismissed by a judge because of a bad search, but in general, prosecutors aren’t supposed to be allowed to use evidence obtained through an illegal search.
How Hessler Law Handles Drug Charges
With attorney Sean Hessler’s background as a former prosecutor, he has the benefit of 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.
Contact an Indianapolis Drug Lawyer
Drug charges and the penalties can be complicated and confusing. If you or a family member has been charged with a drug offense in Indianapolis or anywhere in the Marion County area reach out ASAP.
At Hessler Law, we know you have questions about what to expect and what can be done. Let us help you understand the process, how to move through the local Marion courts, and what drug court alternatives may be available.
Every drug charge is unique, so the best way to handle your situation is to contact an experienced drug lawyer to discuss how we can help. For a free and confidential consultation with Indianapolis drug attorney Sean Hessler, call (317) 886-8800.