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Matthew A. Radefeld and Daniel A. Juengel

Can you get jail time for a drug possession conviction?

On Behalf of | Nov 22, 2022 | Drug Crimes |

Missouri has some of the strictest penalties for possession of a controlled substance. While recently recreational marijuana use was legalized, that did not lessen the penalties for other drugs. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your case and the defense presented, drug possession or possession of a controlled substance can result in penalties of fines or jail time.

Controlled substances fall into one of five schedules, with Schedule One being the most dangerous. Possession of any controlled substance, except marijuana, is considered a Class D felony.

The penalties for drug possession in Missouri

If convicted of a Class D felony in Missouri, an offender can be sentenced to up to seven years in jail and/or be charged fines up to $10,000. If this is not the first offense, persistent offenders who have been found guilty of at least two different felonies at different times can be charged with a Class C felony that carries stricter punishments of 3 to 10 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.

These are not the only penalties you may face. In addition to jail and fines, background checks may show your convictions and make you ineligible for some benefits, loans, and rental opportunities. It may result in losing your job and possibly having trouble finding future employment. It can affect college admittance and scholarships, some government benefits, and the ability to legally purchase or own a firearm.

What is a controlled substance?

In Missouri, a controlled substance is any substance or drug that is on the scheduled list of substances. This list classifies the drugs according to their danger and risk for abuse with Schedule I being the most dangerous and Schedule 5 the least. Schedule I substances include heroin, MDMA, LSD and magic mushrooms. These drugs have no accepted medical use and are considered high risk for abuse and dangerous to use. Marijuana is also included as a Schedule I drug, though the penalties for possession are different.

Schedule II includes drugs such as painkillers and opiates, and have some medical value. They do, however, have a high risk for abuse. Schedule III includes prescription drugs such as steroids and anti-depressants and Schedules IV and V include prescriptive drugs such as sleep aids, anti-anxiety medication and prescription cough syrup. 

Drug Court

Depending on the charges, some first-time offenders may be eligible for Missouri’s drug treatment court, also known as drug court. In this case, the defendant begins a treatment program after pleading guilty to the charges. When the program is complete and any probation requirements are satisfied, the court may dismiss the charges and it will not show up on the defendant’s record. Failure to fulfill the requirements, however, will result in further sentencing.