Not too surprisingly, heroin is illegal in Mississippi. Across the country, heroin is considered a “controlled substance.” Controlled substances are divided into Schedules from I to V based on their addictive properties, legitimate uses, and the cost-benefit of their use versus the dangers involved. Heroin, which has few, if any, medical purposes is a Schedule I controlled substance.
The table below outlines the heroin laws in Mississippi.
|Code Section||Mississippi Code Sections
|Possession||In Mississippi, the penalty for possession of heroin, for personal use and without the intent to sell it, depends on the amount of heroin the defendant had when caught:
If a defendant is arrested with over 30 grams of heroin, the criminal charge will be trafficking in heroin, not possession.
|Sale||Mississippi prohibits knowingly or intentionally selling, bartering, manufacturing, or possessing with the plan to sell heroin. The penalties are based on the amount of heroin sold or possessed to sell:
For some drug crimes, if the defendant wasn’t the leader, didn’t use a weapon or violence, and didn’t cause anyone’s death, then the sentence can be suspended as long as at least 25% of the statutory sentence is served. This is at the judge’s discretion and the reasons for the departure from the normal sentencing must be stated on the record. This discretion opens the door for racial disparities in sentencing.
|Trafficking||Trafficking in controlled substances can be charged if you have or try to sell more than 30 grams of heroin. Also, if you are arrested for selling smaller amounts of heroin at least three times in a 12-month period or it’s also trafficking. However, any prior convictions for drug sales can’t be used to establish trafficking. The U.S. Constitution prohibits charging people twice for a crime, called double jeopardy.
The penalty for trafficking heroin is at least 10 years to 40 years in prison or life in prison without suspension or parole, plus a fine between $5,000 and $1,000,000. You can also be charged with aggravated trafficking for having at least 200 grams of heroin and be sentenced to a minimum of 25 years and not more than life in prison. The fine is $5,000 to $1,000,000 still.
The 25 years minimum can’t be suspended, Also, this life in prison penalty doesn’t apply to informants who help arrest or prosecute other violators of these drug laws. This is likely to encourage taking down an entire drug ring, rather than only a few members.
|Drug Paraphernalia||Selling drug paraphernalia or items to be used with heroin, coke, marijuana, etc., if you should reasonably know that drug use is the purpose of the item, is also illegal. For example, selling needles, spoons, and large rubber ties to shoot up heroin is illegal.
Typically, it’s a misdemeanor penalized by up to 6 months in jail and a $500 fine. However, if the seller is over 18 sells and the buyer is a child under 18, who’s at least 3 years younger, it’s a misdemeanor still, but the penalty is increased to at most 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
|Drug Crime Financing||Knowingly or intentionally receiving money that comes from heroin or other drug sales is illegal. So is financing or investing in felony drug offenses. The penalty for this crime is not more than 5 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine or both.|
Facing a heroin-related criminal charge is scary and can result in a long prison sentence. Immediately contacting an experienced Mississippi drug crime defense lawyer or if you are low-income, asking for a public defender, is very important. An experienced lawyer can help you prepare the best possible defense.
Note: State criminal laws change regularly, so contact a criminal defense lawyer or conduct your own legal research to verify these heroin-related laws.
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