Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) is considered a serious crime in every state. Drinking alcohol or taking drugs may affect your ability to operate cars, boats or industrial equipment in a safe manner. It is against the law in every state to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs if you cannot safely operate the vehicle. DWI and Driving Under the Influence (DUI) refer to the same crime.
Each state and the federal government have laws against the unlawful use, manufacture and distribution of drugs. The purpose of these laws is to reduce the unlawful consumption of drugs, reduce drug-related crimes and severely punish repeat offenders and major drug dealers.
Federal drug statutes establish schedules of controlled substances, defining and classifying illegal drugs. The Attorney General has the authority to delete, add, or re-schedule substances according to certain criteria. State schedules refer to, or are based upon, federal schedules. Drugs included on these schedules are referred to as “Controlled Dangerous Substances” (CDSs).
The seriousness of and ultimate punishment for drug crimes generally depends upon:
– the quantity of the drug
– its classification under the schedules
– the purpose of its possession
Producing, manufacturing, and selling illegal drugs are the most serious drug crimes. For example, a person “dealing” (selling) five or more ounces of heroin or cocaine may be imprisoned for more than 10 years. Possession of drugs with the intent to distribute is also a serious crime. The intent to distribute may be inferred from the quantity of the drug, without any evidence of actual distribution.
In most states, possession of drugs for personal use is a serious crime. But in some states, possession of drugs for personal use is punished less severely than distribution crimes. For example, in some states, possession of a small amount of marijuana (less than 50 grams) is decriminalized or treated as a disorderly person’s offense. A person convicted of a disorderly person’s offense is generally not imprisoned, but may be placed on probation or ordered to pay a fine. However, possession of a larger quantity of marijuana or other drug, even if for personal use, is treated as a serious crime.
Some states have enhanced penalties for drug crimes. These penalties go into effect if: minors are used to distribute the drugs or the drugs are delivered or sold to minors or the drugs are sold or distributed on school property
Enhanced punishments vary from state to state. Forfeiture of property is also used as an additional punishment to deter drug crimes. For example, if your house is used to make and distribute drugs, the government may be able to seize your house.
Professional Drug Dealers
Special laws cover professional drug dealers. A “drug kingpin,” or a person organizing, financing, or managing a business to manufacture, transport, or sell drugs commits a serious crime. Special sentences are reserved for professional drug dealers. The federal government has the death penalty for drug kingpins; some states impose 25 years imprisonment without parole for professional drug dealers.
- any article, object, asset or property which one owns, occupies, holds or has under control.
- the act of owning, occupying, holding or having under control an article, object, asset or property. “Constructive possession” involves property which is not immediately held, but which one has the right to hold and the means to get (such as a key to a storeroom or safe deposit box). “Criminal possession” is the holding of property which it is illegal to possess such as controlled narcotics, stolen goods or liquor by a juvenile. The old adage “possession is nine-tenths of the law” is a rule of force and not of law, since ownership requires the right to possess as well as actual or constructive possession.
White Collar Crimes
The illegal transfer of money or property that, although possessed legally by the embezzler, is diverted to the embezzler personally by his or her fraudulent action. For example, an employee would embezzle money from the employer or a public officer could embezzle money received during the course of their public duties and secretly convert it to their personal use.
The crime of intentionally lying after being duly sworn (to tell the truth) by a notary public, court clerk or other official. This false statement may be made in testimony in court, administrative hearings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, as well as by signing or acknowledging a written legal document (such as affidavit, declaration under penalty of perjury, deed, license application, tax return) known to contain false information. Although it is a crime, prosecutions for perjury are rare, because a defendant will argue he/she merely made a mistake or misunderstood.
The intentional use of deceit, a trick or some dishonest means to deprive another of his/her/its money, property or a legal right. A party who has lost something due to fraud is entitled to file a lawsuit for damages against the party acting fraudulently, and the damages may include punitive damages as a punishment or public example due to the malicious nature of the fraud. Quite often there are several persons involved in a scheme to commit fraud and each and all may be liable for the total damages. Inherent in fraud is an unjust advantage over another which injures that person or entity. It includes failing to point out a known mistake in a contract or other writing (such as a deed), or not revealing a fact which he/she has a duty to communicate, such as a survey which shows there are only 10 acres of land being purchased and not 20 as originally understood. Constructive fraud can be proved by a showing of breach of legal duty (like using the trust funds held for another in an investment in one’s own business) without direct proof of fraud or fraudulent intent. Extrinsic fraud occurs when deceit is employed to keep someone from exercising a right, such as a fair trial, by hiding evidence or misleading the opposing party in a lawsuit. Since fraud is intended to employ dishonesty to deprive another of money, property or a right, it can also be a crime for which the fraudulent person(s) can be charged, tried and convicted. Borderline overreaching or taking advantage of another’s naiveté involving smaller amounts is often overlooked by law enforcement, which suggests the victim seek a “civil remedy” (i.e., sue). However, increasingly fraud, which has victimized a large segment of the public (even in individually small amounts), has become the target of consumer fraud divisions in the offices of district attorneys and attorneys general.
The generic term for all crimes in which a person intentionally and fraudulently takes personal property of another without permission or consent and with the intent to convert it to the taker’s use (including potential sale). In many states, if the value of the property taken is low (for example, less than $500) the crime is “petty theft,” but it is “grand theft” for larger amounts, designated misdemeanor or felony, respectively. Theft is synonymous with “larceny.” Although robbery (taking by force), burglary (taken by entering unlawfully) and embezzlement (stealing from an employer) are all commonly thought of as theft, they are distinguished by the means and methods used and are separately designated as those types of crimes in criminal charges and statutory punishments.
The crime of creating a false document, altering a document, or writing a false signature for the illegal benefit of the person making the forgery. This includes improperly filling in a blank document, like an automobile purchase contract, over a buyer’s signature, with the terms different from those agreed. It does not include such innocent representation as a staff member autographing photos of politicians or movie stars. While similar to forgery, counterfeiting refers to the creation of phony money, stock certificates or bonds which are negotiable for cash. 2) a document or signature falsely created or altered.
Describing a document, particularly money, which is forged or created to look real and intended to pass for real. 2) v. to criminally forge or print a false copy of money, bonds, or other valuable documents, intending to profit from the falsity. 3) n. shorthand for phony money passed for real.
Obtaining money or property by threat to a victim’s property or loved ones, intimidation, or false claim of a right (such as pretending to be an IRS agent). It is a felony in all states, except that a direct threat to harm the victim is usually treated as the crime of robbery. Blackmail is a form of extortion in which the threat is to expose embarrassing, damaging information to family, friends or the public.