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The type of drug impacts the charge and potential sentence

When you're facing drug charges, the type of drugs involved -- not to mention the activity that allegedly related to the drugs -- has a big influence on what consequences you might face if you are convicted. Your own history and the type of drug can also impact whether a prosecutor is willing to work with you on a plea or negotiate reduced charges and sentencing.

One of the factors involved in drug charges is where on the Drug Enforcement Agency schedule the substances fall. Drugs are scheduled from I to V, with Schedule I drugs having the highest potential for abuse and no acceptable medical uses. In short, Schedule I drugs are completely illegal and can't even be used with a prescription; the list of these substances includes items such as heroin, LSD and ecstasy. The list on the DEA site also includes cannabis, but the law around marijuana is getting complicated in some states.

Beyond Schedule I drugs, lower scheduled substances do have at least some recognized medical use, but they are all controlled in some way. The lower a drug is listed on the schedule, the less likelihood there is for abuse or illegal use. For example, Schedule II drugs include Vicodin, cocaine and Ritalin. Schedule V drugs, on the other hand, include certain types of cough syrups and analgesics.

No matter where a drug is listed on the DEA schedule, if you use it outside of a prescription from a doctor, you could be breaking the law. If you are facing drug charges associated with any type of substance, working with a criminal law professional can help you understand your charges fully and plan a defense against them.

Source: Drug Enforcement Agency, "Drug Schedules," accessed Feb. 22, 2017

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