The Mandatory Penalties for Drug Related Charges are the Same, Regardless of the Controlled Substance

Interviewer: How are harder drugs prosecuted? Would someone who had possession of cocaine or meth or heroin, would they be facing harsher penalties?

Randy Berman: No. The penalties regardless of the controlled substance are the same. But it does matter what the quantity is because above certain weights that you possess you get into what’s called trafficking. There are different levels of trafficking. Each trafficking type has mandatory prison sentences that have to be imposed by the judge if you are convicted. There is three year trafficking, a ten year trafficking and 15 year or 25 year trafficking.

If you are convicted of those charges at those levels the judge has no discretion but to impose the mandatory sentences. In addition to getting the mandatory sentences you are prohibited from getting any time off for good behavior or gain time. You must serve the entire sentence, day for day. It can be pretty severe.

Being Charged with a Drug Related Offense Can Potentially Result in Loss of a Professional License

Interviewer: With drug cases could someone be facing a situation where they may be losing a, like if they were in the medical field could they lose their medical license in their educational field if charged with a drug offense

Randy Berman: Absolutely. When you are charged with a crime the constitution provides that you are presumed innocent. The presumption stays with you throughout the pendency of the case, including the trial unless and if you are convicted. The healthcare boards like the medical board, nursing board, pharmacy board, the dental board, they can take action on your license if they want on the mere allegation of the charge before a conviction.

Obviously if you are convicted of a drug case and you are a healthcare professional it is very likely that you’ll get a suspension for revocation on your license. But you can get a suspension or revocation in theory prior to a conviction. That’s brings up issues of the administrative laws that’s involved. Administrative proceedings by those boards are different from the criminal courts.