In a recent interview, leading criminal defense attorney Saul Bienenfeld, founding partner of Bienenfeld Law in New York City, NY, revealed dangerous misconceptions about drug-related charges. —
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When asked to comment, Bienenfeld said, “Contrary to popular belief, even minor drug-related charges can follow someone around for years in nearly all aspects of life. Here are some common dangerous myths for anyone charged with a drug-related offense as they often fail to take the correct steps to remedy the situation."
One widespread misconception among many people is that possession charges are minor misdemeanors.
When asked to elaborate, Bienenfeld commented, “What many recreational drug users don’t realize is that certain charges for possession could mean a sentence of more than a year in prison. Even possessing a residual amount of certain specific narcotics could bring with it years in prison, and a mandatory fine in the thousands of dollars.”
Another dangerous assumption is that prescription drug charges are less severe than for those offenses involving “street drugs”.
“Because of the rapid increase in prescription drug usage over the past few years, law enforcement and the judicial system have been handing over harsher punishments, such as sizable fines and several years in prison,” he stated.
Many people also incorrectly assume that a first-time drug offense won't have long-lasting implications.
“While it’s accurate that the majority of first-time offenders often avoid serious jail time, having a drug conviction on your record can be damaging. The drug convictions show up on background checks, which are readily used by schools and employers alike," he added.
Bienenfeld was quick to add that having a drug conviction can limit opportunities in finding housing or even obtaining a professional license, particularly if it has to do with operating heavy machinery or dealing with children.
One of the worst misperceptions that someone can have is that they don’t need to hire an attorney for drug-related charges, particularly where it might be the person’s first such offense.
When asked to explain, Bienenfeld said, “No matter how simple a drug-related case may seem, getting in touch with a seasoned criminal attorney will increase your chances of getting a better outcome, and suffering less of the potential consequences that you might not even be aware of.”
“A lawyer who has a deep understanding of the criminal defense system in your area is likely to see how to handle your drug charge in the best possible way, both in the short and long-term, even if you think there’s nothing that can be done,” Bienenfeld added.
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