Mississippi Criminal Defense Attorney Curt Crowley
It’s pretty much common knowledge that possession of less than one (1) ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor. Other than that, most people assume that possession of any other controlled substances ( “hard” drugs) is a felony. However, this is incorrect.
Under Miss. Code Ann. 41-29-139, certain narcotics can be charged as either felonies or misdemeanors, so long as the defendant was in possession of one dosage unit (1 pill).
The most common drugs that fall into this category are prescription drugs such as Xanax or Hydrocodone, which are frequently abused for recreational purposes.
Even though the statute states that a misdemeanor charge is available only if the Defendant was in possession of no more than one pill, a person who is arrested for possessing several pills may still be charged with a misdemeanor. This is accomplished by charging the Defendant with a separate case or count for each pill in his possession.
Example: A person is arrested for illegally possessing six (6) Hydrocodone pills. In order to be charged as a misdemeanor, the State would charge the Defendant with six (6) separate cases of possession of one (1) pill. That way, each separate case will be a misdemeanor.
The police usually charge this type of crime as a felony. It is up to the Defendant’s attorney to convince the prosecutor to “break up” the case into misdemeanor charges.
In my experience, most prosecutors are willing to reduce or amend these types of charges from felonies to misdemeanors. This almost always results in either no jail time or a suspended sentence.
This agreement needs to be worked out immediately after the arrest, preferably at the Justice Court or Municipal Court level. If the case is sent to the District Attorney’s office to be presented to the grand jury, the odds of reducing the charge to a misdemeanor are not good.
Because time is of the essence in these cases, it is very important that anyone charged with this type of crime seek an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney immediately after arrest.