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Drug Offenses

Drug offenses occur when one possesses or sales a narcotic. Charges range from misdemeanor possession, trafficking, to federal trafficking (federal charges are listed and/or explained in a separate section). Drugs or controlled substances as Kentucky Statutes refer to them, fall into a category from I to V based on factors such as their strength, accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and potential for abuse and dependence. There are First, Second, and Third-Degree trafficking; and First, Second, and Third-degree possession. Drugs, such as heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana, have many of their own statutes. The elements and definitions that exist within these statutes can be daunting and confusing. One of our experienced attorneys can navigate these for you and find the best possible defense for your unique situation.

First Degree Trafficking

A person can be found guilty of First Degree Trafficking, defined in KRS 218A.1412, when he or she knowingly and unlawfully traffics in:

(a) Four (4) grams or more of cocaine;

(b) Two (2) grams or more of methamphetamine;

(c) Ten (10) or more dosage units of a controlled substance that is classified in Schedules I or II and is a narcotic drug, or a controlled substance analogue;

(d) Any quantity of heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil, or fentanyl derivatives; lysergic acid diethylamide; phencyclidine; gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), including its salts, isomers, salts of isomers, and analogues; or flunitrazepam, including its salts, isomers, and salts of isomers; or

(e) Any quantity of a controlled substance specified in paragraph (a), (b), or (c) of this subsection in an amount less than the amounts specified in those paragraphs.

The amounts specified may occur in a single transaction or may occur in a series of transactions over a period of time not to exceed ninety (90) days that cumulatively result in the quantities specified.

Any person convicted of a Class C felony offense or higher under this section shall not be released on probation, shock probation, parole, conditional discharge, or other form of early release until he or she has served at least fifty percent (50%) of the sentence imposed in cases where the trafficked substance was heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil, or fentanyl derivatives.

First-degree trafficking is a Class C felony, for a first offense, punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison, and a Class B felony for second or subsequent offense, punishable by 10 to 20 years in prison.

Second Degree Trafficking

A person can be found guilty of second-degree trafficking, defined in KRS 218A.1413, when:

(a) He or she knowingly and unlawfully traffics in:

    1. Ten (10) or more dosage units of a controlled substance classified in Schedules I and II that is not a narcotic drug; or specified in KRS 218A.1412, and which is not a synthetic drug, salvia, or marijuana; or
    2. Twenty (20) or more dosage units of a controlled substance classified in Schedule III;

(b) He or she knowingly and unlawfully prescribes, distributes, supplies, or sells an anabolic steroid for:

    1. Enhancing human performance in an exercise, sport, or game; or
    2. Hormonal manipulation intended to increase muscle mass, strength, or weight in the human species without a medical necessity; or

(c) He or she knowingly and unlawfully traffics in any quantity of a controlled substance specified in paragraph (a) of this subsection in an amount less than the amounts specified in that paragraph.

Second Degree Trafficking is a Class D felony, for a first offense, punishable by 1 to 5 years in prison, and a Class C felony for second or subsequent offense, punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison.

Third Degree Trafficking

            A person can be found guilty of third-degree trafficking, defined in KRS 218A.1414 when he or she knowingly and unlawfully traffics in:

(a) Twenty (20) or more dosage units of a controlled substance classified in Schedules IV or V; or

(b) Any quantity of a controlled substance specified in paragraph (a) of this subsection in an amount less than the amount specified in that paragraph.

Third Degree Trafficking is a Class A misdemeanor for first offense involving 120 or fewer dosage units, punishable with up to 12 months in jail; a Class D felony for first offense involving more than 120 dosage units, punishable by 1 to 5 years in prison; and Class D felony for a second or subsequent offense, punishable by 1 to 5 years in prison.

First Degree Possession

       A person can be found guilty of first-degree possession, defined in KRS 218A.1415, when:

    A person is guilty of possession of a controlled substance in the first degree when he or she knowingly and unlawfully possesses:

(a) A controlled substance that is classified in Schedules I or II and is a narcotic drug;

(b) A controlled substance analog;

(c) Methamphetamine;

(d) Lysergic acid diethylamide;

(e) Phencyclidine;

(f) Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), including its salts, isomers, salts of isomers, and analogues; or

(g) Flunitrazepam, including its salts, isomers, and salts of isomers.

First-degree possession is a Class D felony, punishable by 1 to 3 years in prison (per KRS 532).

Second Degree Possession

A person can be found guilty of second-degree possession, defined in KRS 218A.1416, when:

  • A person is guilty of possession of a controlled substance in the second degree when he or she knowingly and unlawfully possesses: a controlled substance classified in Schedules I or II which is not a narcotic drug; or specified in KRS 218A.1415; or a controlled substance classified in Schedule III; but not synthetic drugs, salvia, or marijuana.

Second-degree possession is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in jail.

Third Degree Possession

A person can be found guilty of third-degree possession, defined in KRS 218A.1417, when:

  • A person is guilty of possession of a controlled substance in the third degree when he or she knowingly and unlawfully possesses a controlled substance classified in Schedules IV or V.

Third Degree Possession is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in jail.

Trafficking in School Zone (near a school)

A person can be found guilty of trafficking in/near a school zone, defined in KRS § 218A.1411, when:

  • Any person who unlawfully traffics in a controlled substance classified in Schedules I, II, III, IV or V, or a controlled substance analogue in any building used primarily for classroom instruction in a school or on any premises located within one thousand (1,000) feet of any school building used primarily for classroom instruction shall be guilty of a Class D felony, unless a more severe penalty is set forth in this chapter, in which case the higher penalty shall apply. The measurement shall be taken in a straight line from the nearest wall of the school to the place of the violation.

Trafficking in/near a school zone is a Class D felony, punishable by 1 to 5 years in prison.

Aggravated Trafficking

A person can be found guilty of aggravated trafficking, defined in KRS § 218A.142, when:

  • A person is guilty of aggravated trafficking in a controlled substance in the first degree when he or she knowingly and unlawfully traffics in:

(a) One hundred (100) grams or more of heroin;

(b) Twenty-eight (28) grams or more of fentanyl; or

(c) Ten (10) grams or more of carfentanil or fentanyl derivatives.

  • Aggravated trafficking in a controlled substance in the first degree is a Class B felony, and the defendant shall not be released on probation, shock probation, conditional discharge, or parole until he or she has served at least fifty percent (50%) of the sentence imposed.

Aggravated Trafficking is a Class B felony, punishable by 10 to 20 years in prison.

Trafficking & Possession of Synthetic Drugs

A person can be found guilty of trafficking in synthetic drugs, defined in KRS § 218A.1430, when:

  • A person is guilty of trafficking in synthetic drugs when he or she knowingly and unlawfully traffics in synthetic drugs.
  • A person is guilty of possessing synthetic drugs when he or she knowingly and unlawfully possesses synthetic drugs.

 Trafficking in synthetic drugs is a Class D felony for the first offense, punishable by 1 to 5 years in prison, and a Class C felony, punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison, for each subsequent offense.

Possession of synthetic drugs is a Class A misdemeanor for the first offense, punishable by up to 12 months in jail, for a first offense, and Class D felony for each subsequent offense, punishable by 1-5 years in prison.

Unlawful Distribution of Methamphetamine

        A person can be found guilty of unlawful distribution of methamphetamine, defined in KRS  218.1438, when: 

  • Notwithstanding KRS 218A.1446, a person is guilty of unlawful distribution of a methamphetamine precursor when he or she knowingly and unlawfully sells, transfers, distributes, dispenses, or possesses with the intent to sell, transfer, distribute, or dispense any drug product or combination of drug products containing ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, or phenylpropanolamine, or any of their salts, isomers, or salts of isomers, if the person knows that the purchaser intends that the drug product or combination of drug products will be used as a precursor to methamphetamine or other controlled substance, or if the person sells, transfers, distributes, or dispenses the drug product or combination of drug products with reckless disregard as to how the drug product or combination of drug products will be used.
  • In addition to the criminal penalty specified, or in lieu of the specified criminal penalty, any person who traffics in or transfers any drug product or combination of drug products specified, intentionally or recklessly with knowledge of or reason to know that the drug product or combination of drug products will be used to illegally manufacture methamphetamine or other controlled substance shall be liable for damages in a civil action for all damages, whether directly or indirectly caused by the sale or trafficking or transfer of the drug product or drug products.

Damages may include, but are not limited to:

  1. Any and all costs of detecting, investigating, and cleaning up or remediating unlawfully operated laboratories or other facilities for the illegal manufacture of methamphetamine or other controlled substance;
  2. Costs of prosecution of criminal cases arising from the illegal sale, transfer, distribution, manufacture, or dispensing of a controlled substance or their precursors;
  3. Court costs and reasonable attorney's fees for bringing this civil action;
  4. Consequential damages; and
  5. Punitive damages.

Unlawful distribution of a methamphetamine precursor is a Class D Felony for a first offense, punishable by 1 to 5 years in prison; and a Class C felony for each subsequent offense, punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison.

If you or a loved one have been charged with a drug offense, don't wait, call our experienced drug defense attorneys now! You can leave us a message on the form or give us a call directly at (859) 259-0727.

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Established in 1988, Baldani, Rowland & Richardson has successfully represented thousands of individuals across the Commonwealth of Kentucky. With over 100 years of combined experience, let our team of attorneys fight for your rights.

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