Drug crimes in WA

Vancouver, WA Drug Crime Defense Lawyers

Strong advocacy for people charged with drug crimes in Clark County and throughout Washington State

Many drug crimes are felonies in Washington State. Convictions for felony drug charges can mean months, years, or even decades in jail – depending on the amount of the drug and the type of charge. Convictions also include fines. A drug conviction can affect your ability to find employment or a place to live when you’re released. Felony convictions usually mean the temporary loss of voting rights and the permanent loss of the right to carry a firearm.

At Philbrook Law Offices, PS, our experienced Vancouver drug crime lawyers are skilled defense lawyers. We work aggressively to suppress evidence that was illegally seized. We fight to obtain dismissals and acquittals. We are also adept at negotiating just plea bargains. Alternative sentences such as therapeutic drug courts may be a viable option. We develop strategies to help defendants present the strongest defense possible.


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Drug offenses in Washington State

Most drug crimes involve one or more of the following types of charges:

  • Drug possession
  • Drug sales and delivery
  • Possession with intent to deliver
  • The manufacture, cultivation, or importation of drugs
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia
  • Drugged driving
  • Writing false prescriptions

The type of charge that is filed and the severity of the sentence generally depend on:

  • The classification of the drug involved
  • The amount/quantity of the drugs involved
  • Whether any weapons were involved
  • The defendant’s prior criminal record
  • The activity involved. For example, possession with intent to deliver is more serious than possession.
Philbrook Law in WA

How are drugs classified?

Washington classifies drugs along the same lines as the federal Controlled Substances Act. A controlled substance “means a drug, substance, or immediate precursor included in Schedules I through V as set forth in federal or state laws, or federal or commission rules, but does not include hemp or industrial hemp as defined.”

They are categorized as Schedule I, II, III, IV, and V, and move in descending order. Schedule I drug charges are often the most serious because those drugs are considered the most dangerous.

Schedule I drugs

  • Heroin
  • LSD
  • Ecstasy
  • Peyote
  • Marijuana (federal only)

Schedule II drugs

  • Methadone
  • OxyContin
  • Percocet
  • Opium
  • Morphine
  • Methamphetamines

Schedule III drugs

  • Suboxone
  • Ketamine
  • Anabolic steroids
  • Tylenol with Codeine

Schedule IV drugs

  • Klonopin
  • Xanax
  • Valium
  • Ativan

Schedule V drugs

  • Robitussin AC
  • Phenergan with Codeine
  • Ezogabine

What are the current marijuana laws in Washington?

Recreational marijuana is legal in Washington State, but there are rules regarding its possession and use. Under the law, adults aged 21 and older can purchase and possess “up to one ounce of useable marijuana (the harvested flowers, or ‘bud’), 16 ounces of marijuana-infused edibles in solid form, 72 ounces in liquid form, and 7 grams of marijuana concentrates.” Patients who been prescribed medical marijuana may possess up to 24 ounces of useable marijuana, and up to 15 marijuana plants.

Here is what you CANNOT do, legally:

  • Purchase marijuana from an unauthorized, unlicensed retail store, at any age
  • Purchase marijuana if you are under the age of 21
  • Purchase marijuana FOR someone under the age of 21
  • Sell marijuana
  • Drive while under the influence of marijuana
  • Travel out of state with marijuana

You can face jail time, fines, and other penalties if you break the law regarding marijuana use, possession, or sale.

What are the penalties for drug crime convictions?

You can be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony if you break Washington’s drug laws. For example, if you possess more than one ounce (but fewer than 40 grams) of marijuana, or if you are underage and possess any marijuana, you can be charged with a misdemeanor. This is punishable by up to 90 days in jail AND a $1,000 fine.

However, if you possess more than 40 grams of marijuana, you can be charged with a class C felony, which mandates up to 5 years in jail and $10,000 in fines. You may also face additional charges for intent to sell, intent to deliver, possession of paraphernalia, and so forth. This can quickly and easily increase the number of years in prison, and the amount of money in fines you will need to pay.

Most possession charges are Class C felonies. Charges of Manufacture, Delivery or Possession with Intent to Deliver (no matter the type of drug) are typically Class B felonies, which is punishable by up to 10 years in jail and $25,000 in fines. The exception to this rule applies to crack cocaine, which carries a mandatory sentence of 5 to 20 years regardless of the charge. It is especially important that you contact a criminal defense attorney quickly if your drug charges involve crack-cocaine, because the laws are archaic and draconian, and you could lose everything.

Are there alternatives to incarceration for drug offenses in Vancouver?

Our Vancouver drug defense lawyers explain to defendants and their families that Washington does recognize that incarceration is not a long-term solution for many of the state’s drug problems. Washington has established “therapeutic courts” throughout the state to help adults, children, and others get help through counseling, testing, and other procedures. There are currently 31 adult drug courts, 13 juvenile drug courts, and 19 family treatment drug courts in Washington.

  • Adult drug courts. These courts aim to reduce substance abuse and repeat offenders – among nonviolent substance abuse offenders. People whose cases are handled by a drug court:
    • Receive judicially supervised treatment
    • Must undergo mandatory drug testing
    • Must meet community supervision requirements
    • Must use specific rehabilitation services
  • Juvenile drug courts. Offenders normally must attend substance abuse programs and comply with other conditions – in lieu of confinement in the juvenile justice system.
  • Family dependency treatment court. Here, “Judges, attorneys, child protection services, and treatment personnel unite with the goal of providing safe, nurturing, and permanent homes for children while simultaneously providing parents the necessary support and services to become drug and alcohol abstinent.”

Clark County also has four Therapeutic Specialty Court programs:

  • Substance Abuse Court
  • Veterans Court
  • DUI Court
  • Mental Health Court

Participation in a drug court normally runs 10-15 months. Participants generally plead guilty to the drug charge. If you comply with all phases of the drug court program, your criminal charges are dismissed. If you do not, you will be sentenced.

Philbrook Law in WA

Building a defense against your Vancouver, WA drug charges

Every case is different, so our strategies for your defense will depend on the circumstances of your case. Some of the paths we may pursue include:

  • Constitutional defenses. At Philbrook Law Office, PS, we work aggressively to have evidence suppressed that was seized illegally in violation of your Fourth Amendment rights. Police generally must have reasonable grounds to believe a crime was committed to conduct a search or must obtain a warrant based on probable cause. Any statements made to the police must be voluntary. Defendants have the right to legal counsel at every stage of the proceeding.
  • Legal defenses. We may argue:
    • The chain of custody of the seized drugs was broken
    • There’s insufficient evidence
    • There’s a reasonable doubt
    • The specific elements of the statute haven’t been met
  • Factual defenses. There may be witnesses which can help your case. The government may be making false assumptions such as improperly arguing possession when another person could have equally been in possession. We work, often with investigators, to raise questions about the government’s case.
Philbrook Law in WA

Talk with Philbrook Law Office immediately if you’ve been arrested for a drug crime in Washington or Oregon

An arrest is not a conviction. At Philbrook Law Office, we intervene immediately on your behalf. We explain that you have the right to remain silent. We’ll do the talking for you. We raise every available defense that applies to your case. We negotiate plea agreement and alternatives to criminal courts. We have a strong record of success representing people charged with drug offenses. To schedule an appointment at one of our offices in Vancouver or Battle Ground, WA, please call 360-695-3309 or fill out our contact form. We represent clients in Clark County the greater Portland area, and throughout Oregon and Washington.

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