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Drug Possession Can Lead to Felony Conviction in Hawaii

Drug possession charges generally represent the least severe types of charges under Hawaii law. However, defending against a possession charge still requires highly experienced legal representation. Even when possession is charged as a misdemeanor, a conviction can lead to harsh penalties. Moreover, a possession charge can easily lead to a felony conviction, based on the quantity of drugs found at the time of arrest. 

Schedule V substances are the lowest class of drugs under the law, typically seen as having a low potential for abuse. However, Hawaii law views many situations involving even Schedule V substances as the Class C felony of promoting a detrimental drug in the first degree. Not only can a person face a felony charge by distributing a Schedule V substance, a felony can also be charged even without distribution in the following situations:

  • Possessing 400 or more capsules or tablets containing a Schedule V substance
  • Possessing more than one ounce of any compound or preparation containing a Schedule V substance
  • Possessing more than one pound of any compound containing marijuana
  • Possessing, cultivating or controlling 25 or more marijuana plants

The law reflects the presumption that having larger quantities of controlled substances indicates the intent to distribute all or a portion of the substance. In essence, the prosecution does not have to prove intent - intent is assumed for anyone caught with even one too many pills. Still, defendants may have valid defenses in such cases.

By asserting your Miranda rights to remain silent and retaining an attorney before making any statements to police, you preserve the possibility of an effective defense. Retaining an experienced Hawaii drug crime defense lawyer can help you secure the best possible outcome for your case. Your attorney knows how to eliminate certain types of evidence before trial, and he or she can negotiate with the prosecution to get charges reduced or dropped.

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  • HSBA Hawaii State Bar Association
  • Judiciary State Of Hawaii
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  • United States District Court, Northern District of California
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