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What do the various types of drug crimes actually mean?

"Drug crimes" is an umbrella term that applies to a wide variety of drug charges. No matter the charge, a drug crime is a serious offense to be charged with, and the person who is being accused of the crime needs to defend himself or herself accordingly. But what do these various types of charges mean, and what can the accused person expect from these myriad violations? Let's start with a couple of basic charges: "drug paraphernalia" and "drug possession."

Drug paraphernalia refers to any equipment that could be used to inhale, inject or otherwise consume illicit drugs. This paraphernalia could also be used to prepare or hide drugs. Even though certain paraphernalia is actually legal to have for certain purposes, these pieces of equipment can often lead to drug charges simply based on how they look.

Drug possession is a bit more complex because the laws vary from state to state and from drug to drug. But ultimately, the rule is this: you can't possess any illicit drugs per state and federal laws. Drug possession charges usually have varying degrees of severity, and they are often paired with drug paraphernalia charges. Possession and paraphernalia charges can result in serious consequences for the accused.

On the more complex side is the drug charge trifecta of "manufacturing," "trafficking" and "dealing." Drug manufacturing charges can be filed against anyone who had a hand in any step of the manufacturing process of a drug -- though marijuana cultivation may be exempt from this under certain circumstances in certain states.

Drug trafficking refers to the selling, transportation, and/or importing of illicit drugs. This charge is very serious and is considered a felony, which means it carries some very heavy penalties. Drug dealing is similar to trafficking, though "dealing" is in reference to selling illicit drugs on a smaller scale.

No matter what you are charged with, the potential penalties will be severe, even though they will vary depending many factors.

Source: FindLaw, "Types of Drug Crimes," Accessed April 22, 2015

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