The penalties for drug possession, manufacturing and dealing depend on the amount of the controlled substance the law enforcement officer discovered during the arrest or after an investigation. The type of controlled substance also affects the charges and resulting penalties. However, other factors can severely elevate drug charges in Indiana. For example, the prosecution can charge a person possessing a Schedule I, II, III or IV controlled substance with a Class A misdemeanor if they do not have a valid prescription. The misdemeanor may become a Level 6 felony if an enhancing circumstance applies.
What are the enhancing circumstances?
Enhancing circumstances elevate the convictions and penalties of drug charges significantly. These are the circumstances that directly affect drug charges in Indiana:
- The person already has a prior conviction for dealing in a controlled substance, except for marijuana, hashish, hash oil or salvia. The conviction includes inchoate offenses. The jurisdiction of where the conviction took place does not matter.
- The person had a firearm when they committed the offense.
- The person committed the offense on a school bus.
- The person was on, in or within 500 feet of any school property or public park when they committed the offense. They committed the offense knowing full well that a minor under 18 years old could have been in the area.
- The person delivered or paid for the delivery of the drug to a minor at least three years younger than the offender.
- The person committed the offense in the physical presence of a child less than 18 years old.
- The person committed the offense in a penal facility or juvenile facility.
- The person committed the offense in, on or within 100 feet of a facility for the treatment, care and rehabilitation of drug abusers. It includes facilities where people gather to attend recovery or support group meetings.
If any of these enhancing circumstances exists, a few days in jail can turn into years.
Drug charges can have enhancing circumstances without you knowing
For the charges to have merit, you should have knowingly and intentionally possessed the controlled substance. You may also have been in the school or park because an officer asked you to be there. The prosecution still needs to prove that you are guilty of the offense and that an enhancing circumstance exists.