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how long do you go to jail for drug charges

How Long Do You Go to Jail for Drug Charges

How long do you go to jail for drug charges? If you want answers to help your Louisiana drug charge case (or any other for that matter) you’ve come to the right place.

how long will I go to jail for drug charges?
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Drug charges are no joke, even if they are minor. Even marijuana, which is legal in many states now, can carry heavy penalties if you ignore local and federal law. Therefore, it is important to know what penalties you might face and what will influence the fine or jail time involved with felony drug charges.

The goal of this article is to take a deeper look at how long you can go to jail for drug charges. Specifically, it will focus on Louisiana, so read on to find out more about drug charges, drug laws and their penalties.

How Drug Charges Are Classified

Drugs are separated into five “schedules” in Louisiana, with Schedule I drugs being the most dangerous and Schedule V being the least dangerous. The classifications take the potential for abuse and medical use into account. Note that any possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) without a prescription is illegal in Louisiana.

Schedule I Substances

Schedule I substances are defined as the most dangerous group of drugs with the most potential for abuse and the least medical value. However, it is actually a complicated mix of substances that carry various penalties. Among the Schedule I substances are:

Yes, cannabis and heroin both sit under the umbrella of Schedule I substances. However, they do not carry the same penalties. Despite that, cannabis can still carry hefty penalties. Because of the vast difference, the best way to identify potential jail time for Schedule I substances is to separate it into cannabis and non-cannabis charges.

When dealing with non-cannabis drugs classified as Schedule I, the sentence for possession can range from one year to ten years, with drugs like heroin having a higher minimum of around four years. There are also fines of up to $5000. The years increase to anywhere between 5 to 50 years for manufacture and distribution.

Cannabis is different, with the jail time increasing depending on specific factors. For the 1st offense, one can spend up to six months in jail. For the 2nd offense, it rises to up to five years, and for the 3rd offense, the prison time can go up to 20 years. Additionally, large quantities can net between 5 and 40 years, with production and manufacturing earning a potential 5-30 years.

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Schedule II Substances

Drugs in this classification are dangerous and have a serious chance of causing dependence physically or mentally, and they are often abused. Some examples of Schedule II substances are:

  • Vicodin
  • Cocaine
  • OxyContin
  • Adderall
  • Fentanyl

There are two different sentencing norms with Schedule II substances as well, but it is much simpler. Almost all charges involving Schedule II substances carry one to five years in jail time. The exception to this is phencyclidine (PCP), which carries a much steeper sentence of up to 20 years.

As far as manufacturing and distributing are concerned, the maximum sentence is around 30 years. For charges such as these, you will definitely want an established law firm for representation.

Schedule III Substances

The danger and addictive properties of these substances are lesser, reaching the moderate to low range. A few examples of drugs that belong in the Schedule III classification are:

  • Tylenol with codeine
  • Anabolic steroids
  • Testosterone

The jail time is the same as Schedule II substances, ranging from one to five years. Though the fines are a little lower, and the prison time for manufacturing and distributing such drugs is far less, topping out at around ten years.

Schedule IV Substances

Schedule IV means a low risk of everything, from danger to dependency. In this classification are drugs like Valium and Ambien. Illegal possession carries one to five years as usual, but drugs such as Rohypnol and Ruffies carry up to ten years of jail time. Manufacturing and distribution mean up to ten years normally, with up to 30 years for Rohypnol and the like.

Schedule V Substances

The least dangerous classification of drugs is Schedule V, which refers to those with minimal danger, addictiveness, and risk of abuse. While the maximum sentence is still five years, most of these drugs do not have a manufacturing or distribution charge since they can be bought in various places. Some examples are cough medicine and the stomach medication Lomotil.

Special Circumstances

The first thing to take note of is that repeated offenses can double the penalties listed above. Also, drug charges near drug-free zones such as schools and public parks increase the penalties by one and a half times.


Drug charges are not a joke, and in Louisiana, they are extra difficult to deal with, having long prison sentences. Therefore, you should recognize that the situation and amount you have affects a lot of things when it comes to drug charges. And, of course, when in doubt, call a lawyer first, especially one specializing in such charges. Consult with a criminal defense attorney near you for the best outcome with your drug charges.

Now you should know how long you go to jail for drug charges.


Louisiana DWI & Criminal Lawyers

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Louisiana criminal lawyers and DWI attorneys at the Barkemeyer Law Firm providing legal defense services for clients in Baton Rouge, Ascension, Livingston, Tangipahoa, Port Allen, Alexandria, New Orleans, Lafayette, Metairie, Kenner, Gretna, Hahnville, Chalmette, Slidell, St. Tammany, St. Charles, St. John, St. Bernard, Mandeville, Covington, Shreveport, Bossier, Jefferson, and all of Louisiana.

DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is not formal legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship.

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