D.C. Drug Crimes Law

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D.C. Drug Crime Attorneys

Being charged with a drug or counterfeit substance offense in Washington DC is an extremely serious matter and can result in misdemeanor or felony penalties, depending on the severity and nature of the offense. Typically, possession of a small quantity of a controlled substance leads to misdemeanor charges, which may entail fines and potential jail time. However, if the offense involves a larger quantity of controlled substances or if the defendant is accused of manufacturing, distributing, or selling drugs, felony charges may be imposed. Such felony convictions carry the risk of substantial prison sentences spanning several decades and substantial fines amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars. These consequences can significantly impact the defendant’s future, including employment prospects, housing opportunities, loan eligibility, and other essential aspects of life, long after the legal process concludes.

Differentiating between drug possession and possession with the intent to distribute can be a complex and subjective matter, necessitating the expertise of a skilled Washington DC drug lawyer. Our experienced attorneys can meticulously analyze every detail of your case, considering the evidence and relevant legal precedents, to construct a strong defense strategy. This will ensure that you receive the best possible outcome during your trial.

DC Drug Laws

Under Washington DC criminal code § 48-904.01(d), it is unlawful for an individual to knowingly or intentionally possess a controlled substance without a valid prescription from a medical practitioner. In the majority of cases, this offense is classified as a misdemeanor, which may result in fines of up to $1,000 and a maximum jail term of 180 days.

However, §48-904.01(d)(2) establishes a heightened penalty for individuals found in possession of the liquid form of phencyclidine (PCP). In such instances, the offense is elevated to a felony, carrying potential fines of up to $12,500 and a maximum prison sentence of three years.

When faced with drug possession charges, it is crucial to seek the assistance of a responsive Washington DC drug defense attorney. Our experienced lawyers in the area possess extensive knowledge and a track record of success in fighting and overcoming drug possession charges.

Drug Manufacturing and Distribution Regulations

Washington DC code § 48-904.01(a) establishes the illegality of manufacturing or distributing controlled substances. This provision equally prohibits both distribution and manufacturing activities.

In the case of Schedule I or II abusive or narcotic drugs, the penalty is a maximum prison term of 30 years and a fine not exceeding $75,000.

For non-narcotic and non-abusive Schedule I, II, and III drugs, the penalty is a potential prison sentence of up to five years, accompanied by a fine of up to $12,500. However, if the controlled substance involved is less than a half-pound of marijuana and it is the offender’s first violation of this code, the penalty is a maximum of 180 days in jail and a fine not exceeding $1,000.

For Schedule IV drugs, the penalty entails fines of up to $12,500 and a prison term of no more than three years. The penalty is further reduced for Schedule V drugs, with a maximum fine of $2,500 and imprisonment not exceeding one year.

The penalties remain the same for counterfeit substances. For instance, manufacturing and distributing a counterfeit version of a non-narcotic Schedule II drug can result in fines of up to $12,500 and a prison term of five years.

According to §48-904.06, any individual aged 21 or above who distributes a narcotic drug, phencyclidine, or a phencyclidine immediate precursor, classified as Schedule I or II controlled substances, to a person under 18 years old may face fines of up to $75,000 and a prison term of up to 60 years, or both.

Under §48-904.03a of the Washington DC code, it is unlawful for anyone to establish or maintain a location for the purpose of manufacturing, distributing, or storing a narcotic or abusive drug. The penalty for this offense, as outlined in part (b) of the code, includes a prison term ranging from five to 25 years and a fine not exceeding $75,000. A mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison applies to this crime.

Fraudulent Behavior and Drug Use

According to Washington DC code § 48-904.03, there are provisions in place for drug crimes involving fraud and deceit. It is unlawful for an individual to knowingly or intentionally engage in the following actions:

  1. Utilize a suspended, revoked, fictitious, or improperly issued registration number during the manufacturing or distribution of a controlled drug.
  2. Acquire a controlled drug through deceptive means, such as subterfuge, deception, forgery, fraud, or misrepresentation (for instance, pretending to have a medical condition to obtain a drug).
  3. Provide false or fraudulent information in a report or application, or intentionally withhold information from the same.
  4. Possess, create, or distribute a device specifically designed to print or reproduce an identifying mark on a drug container, thereby producing a counterfeit substance.

Engaging in any of the aforementioned actions is subject to penalties, including a maximum prison term of four years and a fine not exceeding $12,500.


Code § 48-904.08 stipulates that individuals who are convicted of a second offense under Chapter 9: Controlled Substances will face penalties that are twice as severe as those for first-time offenders. This means that the maximum prison sentences will be doubled, as well as the fines. It is important to note that this provision can be applied even if the first offense was committed in a state other than Washington DC. The code applies to crimes involving hallucinogens, stimulants, depressants, and narcotics.

Determining whether a criminal defendant qualifies as a repeat offender can be challenging due to certain complexities within the Washington DC criminal code. In such cases, having the guidance of a skilled and knowledgeable local drug lawyer can be highly beneficial. They will possess the expertise and experience necessary to navigate the intricacies of the law and provide effective defense strategies tailored to your specific situation.

How We Can Help

When confronted with criminal charges, particularly for a significant offense, it can be an overwhelming experience. Instead of attempting to navigate this complex process on your own, it is advisable to seek the assistance of a determined DC drugs lawyer. By reaching out to an attorney, you can gain a clear understanding of your rights, obtain answers to your inquiries, and benefit from their expertise in constructing a robust defense strategy tailored to your specific circumstances.