What Might Happen If I’m Caught by Police Using Drugs

Possessing or selling drugs carries stiff penalties in the United States and around the world. Recreational drug users and those who struggle with drug addiction can face serious and long-terms consequences for using, selling or having drugs in their possession. Knowing the risks by knowing the laws related to drugs can help you or a loved one understand the high price he or she might pay for getting involved with drugs. Addiction is a life-long struggle for most people, and getting caught by police with drugs in your possession can complicate an already difficult situation.

Drug Trafficking Explained

What Might Happen If I’m Caught by Police Using Drugs

Getting caught using drugs by police has serious and long-term consequences for both recreational users and addicts

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime defines drug trafficking as an illicit trade involving the cultivation, manufacture, distribution and sale of substances that are subject to drug prohibition laws.[i] In the United States, drug trafficking carries stiff penalties, including time spent in prison and hefty fines. Drug trafficking offenses and punishments are divided into schedules based on the substance being trafficked and the quantity of that substance. For example, cocaine is a schedule II drug. The possession or sale of cocaine in the amount of 500-4999 grams can result in a first-time offender spending not less than 5 years in prison and a fine of not more than $5 million. For 5 kilograms or more of cocaine, a first-time offender will received not less than 10 years in prison and a fine of not more than $10 million.[ii]

Along with federal drug trafficking penalties and fines, each state has its own laws pertaining to the possession, sale and use of illegal substances. Jail time and fines are common for drug-related crimes at the state level as is community service. State judges often require many hours of community service from those who are convicted of drug-related crimes and sentenced to prison time. It’s a way for those involved in this illegal activity to give back to the community that has been negatively impacted by their drug use or trafficking.

Addiction Treatment as a Way to Avoid Jail

Prison overcrowding is a problem in every state in the nation. Both federal and state authorities are constantly looking for ways to keep non-violent offenders out of the prison system. One way that is becoming more popular is making mandatory drug rehab part of a drug sentence. For those who are first-time, non-violent offenders this can be a life-changing moment.

According to the Justice Research and Statistics Association[iii], using drug rehab as an alternative to jail time had the following positive outcomes:

  • 57 percentof people receiving drug rehab were re-arrested within a 12-month period. 75-percent of those who didn’t receive drug rehab were rearrested.
  • 42 percentof people receiving drug rehab were convicted of a crime after treatment compared to the 65 percent who did not receive drug rehab
  • 30 percentof people in drug rehabilitation received a new jail sentence within a 12-month period after treatment compared to 51 percent of those who went to jail and did not receive treatment.

Rehab can help people overcome addiction and avoid future drug-related offenses.

When a Person Gets Caught with Drugs

There are many repercussions for those who are involved with drugs. It’s easy to assume that only those who are using or selling get arrested. But those who carry drugs for another person or even look like they might be intending to sell drugs can be in violation of the law. When a person is arrested on a drug charge, life is never the same again. With a drug arrest on your record, you may not be able to get the job you want, keep your college loans or stay in your school of choice. Having a drug charge or conviction can also keep you from serving in the military. Drug charges can also result in a criminal record that will follow you for the rest of your life. In addition, you may spend time in a state or federal prison and be expected to pay a huge fine for your involvement with drugs. Making the decision to use, sell or carry drugs for someone else can send you down the wrong path for a very long time. Drug trafficking is a dangerous business to be in, and those who experiment with the drug culture always come out on the losing end.

Finding Help for Drug Addiction

Using drugs leads to addiction and can take you down a dangerous path. People who use and sell drugs live under the control of a substance at all times. Realizing you have a problem before things go too far can save your life. If you or a loved one struggles with substance abuse, we are here for you. Call our toll-free helpline 24 hours a day to speak to an admissions coordinator about available treatment options. Standing in front of a judge for your involvement with drugs is not a place you want to be. We can help you now.


[i] United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. “Drug Trafficking.” Accessed December 11, 2015. https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/drug-trafficking/

[ii] United States Drug Enforcement Administration. “Federal Trafficking Penalties.” Accessed December 11, 2015. http://www.dea.gov/druginfo/ftp3.shtml

[iii] DrugWarFacts.org. “Drug Courts and Treatment Alternatives to Incarceration.” Accessed December 11, 2015. http://drugwarfacts.org/cms/?q=node/36#sthash.VuitcOqm.dpbs