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Drug Crimes

Drug Possession

Drug Distribution

Parental Drug Abuse/Child Abuse

Prescription Fraud


In Utah possession, distribution, and drug use are all serious offenses. Imprisonment, hefty fines, and required rehabilitation programs are just some of the penalties which can result from a drug conviction. Furthermore, the penalties a defendant faces for drug crimes depend on the circumstances surrounding the act including the amount of drugs in possession, whether the actor had the intent to distribute, and the type of controlled substance.

Being accused of a drug crime can be stressful for any person. An arrest can lead to complicated litigation which requires an experienced defense attorney. Seeking the advice of a skilled lawyer is in your best interest. A knowledgeable and experienced defense lawyer can provide a defense strategy to fight any drug-related offense or prescription drug crimes.

Utah Controlled Substances Act

Drug crimes in the state of Utah are governed by the Utah Controlled Substance Act §58-37. Under this Act, Utah details the specific types of offenses punishable as a drug crime. Listed below is one of the most common prosecuted subsections of the Utah Controlled Substance Act. Utah Code §58-37-8 Prohibited acts A prohibits an individual from knowingly and intentionally committing any of the following acts:

Producing, manufacturing, or dispensing, or possessing with intent to produce, manufacture, or dispense, a controlled or counterfeit substance;
Distributing a controlled or counterfeit substance, or to agree, consent, offer, or arrange distribution of a controlled or counterfeit substance;
Possessing a controlled or counterfeit substance with intent to distribute; or
To engage in a continuing criminal enterprise where:
The individual participates, directs, or engages in conduct resulting in a violation of any provision of Title 58 Chapters 37, 37a, 37b, 37c, or 37d; and
Where the violation is a part of a continuing series of two or more violations of Title 58 Chapters 37, 37a-37d, on separate occasions which are undertaken in concert with five or more people with respect to whom the person occupies a position of organizer, supervisor, or any other management position.

Utah’s Controlled Substance Act categorizes controlled substances into different groups based on potential abuse and medical usage. Drug offense penalties will vary based on the category of the controlled substances. Substance categories are as follows:

Schedule I: Some substances in this category include marijuana, acetylmethadol, acetorphine, and heroin.
Schedule II: Substances include codeine, morphine, oxycodone, oxymorphone, and amphetamine.
Schedule III: Includes benzphetamine, chlorhexadol, and buprenorphine.
Schedule IV:  This category includes barbital, petrichloral, and modafinil.
Schedule V: This group covers mixtures and compounds of limited quantities of narcotic drugs including codeine, dihydrocodeine, ethylmorphine, diphenoxylate, opium, difenoxin, and tramadol.


Penalties and Consequences for Drug Convictions

Consequences of drug convictions will vary by substance category. Other factors for consideration include the actor’s intent, whether the actor was part of a larger drug manufacturing or distribution group, whether the offense took place in the presence of a minor, prior conviction, and similar relevant information. Individuals convicted of a first or second conviction of possession of a controlled substance may be convicted of a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or up to $2,500 in fees.

For those individuals guilty of a third or subsequent conviction, the punishment is a third-degree felony. It is punishable by zero to five years imprisonment and/or up to $5,000 in fees. Individuals found guilty of a second-degree felony can face anywhere from one to fifteen years imprisonment and/or $10,000 in fees.

Types of Drug Crimes in Utah

Utah’s Controlled Substance Act classifies many well-known drugs such as cocaine, marijuana, and heroin. Below are different types of drug crimes in Utah:

Drug Manufacturing – Manufacturing a Controlled Substance carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and up to $2,500 in fines.

Drug Paraphernalia – Possessing bongs, pipes, baggies, scales or other contraptions used to consume or distribute drugs is illegal in the State of Utah (See Utah Statute § 58-37a-5).

Opioid Crimes – Utah law considers opioids to be a controlled substance, meaning it’s illegal to possess, distribute, sell or manufacture them because opioids are considered a “dangerous” drug, they are classified under schedule I or schedule II, which carry the harshest penalties.

Possession of Marijuana – The penalties for possessing marijuana depend on your criminal history unless you have 100 pounds or more. Penalties can be enhanced if the defendant possesses marijuana in a public jail or any state corrections facility.

Prescription Drug Crimes – Penalties for prescription drug crimes will vary based on the circumstances.  However, the most common penalties for these types of drug offenses include 15 years imprisonment and up to $10,000 in fines.

Growing or Cultivating Marijuana – Depending on the circumstances, marijuana cultivation can qualify as either a third-degree felony or a second-degree felony. 

Additional Resources for Utah Drug Crimes

Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health – The department provides a multitude of services for substance abuse and mental health. Visit the link to learn about substance abuse prevention, get involved with a local prevention coalition, obtain services for adult and/or child mental health services, and much more.

Community Anti-Drug Coalition of America (CADCA) – The organization’s mission is to strengthen the capacity of community coalitions to create and maintain healthy, drug-free, and safe communities. CADCA is able to accomplish its mission through providing training, public policy advocacy, special events, marketing programs, and much more.

Salt Lake County Drug Court Program – Drug Courts aim to help reduce substance abuse among substance abusers and to increase the likelihood of recovery. An eligible defendant has the opportunity to be sent to Drug Court instead of the traditional justice system. Once the defendant has completed all sanctions such as imprisonment, fines, program requirements, etc., the guilty plea is withdrawn and the criminal charges are dismissed. The Criminal Justice Services is located at:

145 East 1300 South Suite #501

Salt Lake City, UT 84115

Phone: (385) 468 – 3500

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