Connecticut Drug Penalties


Penalty Chart


Possession of Controlled Substances
Offense Type First Offense Second Offense Third Offense
Possession of Heroin, Cocaine, or Crack Up to 7 years in jail and up to a 50,000 fine. Up to 15 years in jail and up to a $100,000 fine. Up to 25 years in jail and up to a $250,000 fine.
Possession of Less than 4 Ounces of Marijuana Up to one year in jail and up to a $1,000.00 fine. Up to 5 years in jail and up to a $3000.00 fine NA
Possession of More than 4 Ounces of Marijuana Up to 5 years in jail and up to a $2000.00 fine Up to 10 years in jail and up to a $5000.00 fine NA
Possession of an Amphetamine-Type Substance (Methamphetamine) Up to one year in jail and up to a $1,000.00 fine. Up to 5 years in jail and up to a $3000.00 fine NA
Possession of Any Quantity of a Hallucinogenic Substance Up to 5 years in jail and up to a $2000.00 fine Up to 10 years in jail and up to a $5000.00 fine NA
Possesion of Any Quanity of an Other Controlled Substance Up to 1 year in jail and up to a $1,000.00 fine. Up to 5 years in jail and up to a $3000.00 fine NA

Possession of Controlled Substances With Intent to Sell
Offense Type First Offense Second Offense Third Offense
Sale of Any Amount of Narcotics (Heroin, Cocaine or Crack) by a Drug Dependant Person Up to 15 years in prison and up to a $50,000 fine. Up to 30 years in prison and up to a $100,000 fine. Up to 30 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.
Sale of Any Amount of Narcotics (Heroin, Cocaine or Crack) by a Non-drug Dependant Person A mandatory minimum of 5 years and up to 20 years in prison. A mandatory minimum of 10 years and up to 25 years in prison. NA
Sale of at Least 1 Ounce of Heroin A mandatory minimum of 5 years and up to 20 years in prison. A maximum of life in prison. NA
Sale of at Least 1/2 Ounce of Cocaine or Crack A mandatory minimum of 5 years and up to 20 years in prison. A maximum of life in prison. NA
Possession of Less than 1 Kilo of Marijuana with Intent to Sell Up to 7 years in prison and fines. NA NA
Possession of 1 Kilo or More of Marijuana with Intent to Sell A minimum of 5 years and a maximum of 20 years in jail and fines. A minimum of 10 years and a maximum of 25 years in jail and fines. NA
Sale of Any Amount of an Amphetamine Type Substance by a Drug Dependant Person Up to 7 years in prison and up to a $25,000 fine. Up to 15 years in prison or up to a $100,000 fine. NA
Sale of Any Amount of an Amphetamine Type Substance by a Non-Drug Dependant Person A mandatory minimum of 5 years and up to 20 years in prison. A mandatory minimum of 10 years and up to 25 years in prison. NA
Possession of a Hallucinogenic Substance with Intent to Sell bya Drug Dependant Person Up to 15 years in prison and up to a $50,000 fine. Up to 30 years in prison and up to a $100,000 fine. Up to 30 years in prison or up to a $250,000 fine.
Possession of a Hallucinogenic Substance with Intent to Sell by a Non-Drug Dependant Person A minimum of 5 years to a maximum of 20 years in prison. A minimum of 10 years to a maximum of 25 years in prison.  
Possession of a Substance that Contains Five Milligrams or More of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide with Intent to Sell by a Non-drug Dependent Person From 5 to 20 years in prison, with a maximum of a life sentence. NA NA
Possesion With Intent to Sell of Any Quanity of an Other Controlled Substance Up to 7 years in jail and a fine of $25,000 Up to 15 years in jail and a fine up to $100,000. NA

Offenses Specific to Prescription Drugs
Offense Type First Offense
Forged Prescriptions Mandatory minimum 1 year in jail and up to 5 years in jail, along with a fine up to $5,000.
Improper Container Subject to the penalties for possession of the type of drug that the prescription is.
Possession of Someone Else's Prescription Subject to the penalties for possession of the type of drug that the prescription is.

Miscellaneous Drug Offenses
Offense Type First Offense Second Offense
Distribution of a Controlled Substance to a Minor A minimum of 2 years in jail which is to be served consecutively to any other sentence imposed. NA
Possession Near a Prohibited Place A mandatory minimum 3 years in jail, to be served in addition and consecutively to any imprisonment for violation of Conn. Gen. Stat. 21a-277 or 21a-278. NA
Employing Minor to Possess with Intent to Distribute A minimum of 3 years in jail to run, to be served in addition and consecutively to any imprisonment for violation of Conn. Gen. Stat. 21a-277 or 21a-278. NA
Conspiracy The same penalties as the underlying crime. NA
Use or Possession with Intent to Use Drug Paraphernalia Up to 3 months in jail and a fine up to $500.00. NA
The Delivery of Drug Paraphernalia Up to 1 year in jail and a fine up to $2,000.00. NA
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in a Drug Factory Situation Up to 2 years in jail and a fine up to $1,000.00. Up to 10 years in jail and fine up to $10,000.00.
Possession, Use or Intent to Sell Drug Paraphernalia Within 1,500 Feet of a School A mandatory minimum 1 year in prison to run consecutively to any other penalties. NA
Misrepresentation of a Substance as a Controlled Substance A mandatory minimum of 1 year in jail, a maximum of 5 years in jail, and up to a $5,000 fine. NA

A. Felonies v. Misdemeanors

            1. Overview of Felonies v. Misdemeanors

            In Connecticut Statutes, the legislature indicates the penalties for crimes in two ways: (1) an express indication of what the penalty is for the offense based on what clas or (2) the designation of the crime as either an unclassified felony or misdemeanor. If the crime is an unclassified felony or misdemeanor, the statute itself will provide the penalties. If crime is a felony or misdemeanor that is designated as a particular class, each class carries a different penalty.

            2. Penalties for Felonies and Misdemeanors

Length of Imprisonment for Convictions of Felonies:

            Capital Felony: Life imprisonment without the possibility of release.

            Class A Felony Murder: 25 years to life.

            Class A Felony Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Minor: 25 to 50 years.

            Class A Felony—Any Other Class A Felony: 10 to 25 years.

            Class B Felony Manslaughter in the 1st Degree with a Firearm: 5 to 40 years.

            Class B Felony of Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 53a-59(a)(1), 53a-59a, 53a-70a, 53a-94a, 53a-101(a)(1) or 53a-134(a)(2): 5 to 20 years.
           
            Class B Felony—Any Other Class B Felony: 1 to 20 years.

            Class C Felony of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-56a: 3 to 10 years.
                       
            Class C Felony—Any Other Class C Felony: 1 to 10 years.

            Class D Felony of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-216: 5 years.

            Class D Felony of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-60c: 3 to 5 years.

            Class D Felony of Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 53a-60b or 53a-217: 2 to 5 years.

            Class D Felony—Any Other Class D Felony: 1 to 5 years.

Fines for Convictions of Felonies:

            Class A Felony: $20,000.00 Fine.

            Class B Felony: $15,000.00 Fine.

            Class C Felony: $10,000.00 Fine.

            Class D Felony: $5,000.00 Fine.

Length of Imprisonment for Convictions of Misdemeanors:

            Class A Misdemeanor of Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 53a-61(a)(3) or 53a-61a: 1 year with no suspension or reduction.

            Class A Misdemeanor: 1 year maximum.

            Class B Misdemeanor: 6 months maximum.
                       
            Class C Misdemeanor: 3 months maximum.

Fines for Convictions of Misdemeanors:

            Class A Misdemeanor: $2,000.00 Fine.

            Class B Misdemeanor: $1,000.00 Fine.
                       
            Class C Misdemeanor: $500.00 Fine.

           
            3. Felonies v. Misdemeanors: Relevant Statutes

Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-35a. Imprisonment for any felony committed on or after July 1, 1981: Definite sentences; terms authorized

For any felony committed on or after July 1, 1981, the sentence of imprisonment shall be a definite sentence and the term shall be fixed by the court as follows: (1) For a capital felony, a term of life imprisonment without the possibility of release unless a sentence of death is imposed in accordance with section 53a-46a; (2) for the class A felony of murder, a term not less than twenty-five years nor more than life; (3) for the class A felony of aggravated sexual assault of a minor under section 53a-70c, a term not less than twenty-five years or more than fifty years; (4) for a class A felony other than an offense specified in subdivision (2) or (3) of this section, a term not less than ten years nor more than twenty-five years; (5) for the class B felony of manslaughter in the first degree with a firearm under section 53a-55a, a term not less than five years nor more than forty years; (6) for a class B felony other than manslaughter in the first degree with a firearm under section 53a-55a, a term not less than one year nor more than twenty years, except that for a conviction under section 53a-59(a)(1), 53a-59a, 53a-70a, 53a-94a, 53a-101(a)(1) or 53a-134(a)(2), the term shall be not less than five years nor more than twenty years; (7) for a class C felony, a term not less than one year nor more than ten years, except that for a conviction under section 53a-56a, the term shall be not less than three years nor more than ten years; (8) for a class D felony, a term not less than one year nor more than five years, except that for a conviction under section 53a-60b or 53a-217, the term shall be not less than two years nor more than five years, for a conviction under section 53a-60c, the term shall be not less than three years nor more than five years, and for a conviction under section 53a-216, the term shall be five years; (9) for an unclassified felony, a term in accordance with the sentence specified in the section of the general statutes that defines the crime.

 

Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-41. Fines for felonies

A fine for the conviction of a felony shall be fixed by the court as follows: (1) For a class A felony, an amount not to exceed twenty thousand dollars; (2) for a class B felony, an amount not to exceed fifteen thousand dollars; (3) for a class C felony, an amount not to exceed ten thousand dollars; (4) for a class D felony, an amount not to exceed five thousand dollars; (5) for an unclassified felony, an amount in accordance with the fine specified in the section of the general statutes that defines the crime.

 

Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-36. Imprisonment for misdemeanor: Maximum and minimum sentences

A sentence of imprisonment for a misdemeanor shall be a definite sentence and the term shall be fixed by the court as follows: (1) For a class A misdemeanor, a term not to exceed one year except that when a person is found guilty under section 53a-61(a)(3) or 53a-61a, the term shall be one year and such sentence shall not be suspended or reduced; (2) for a class B misdemeanor, a term not to exceed six months; (3) for a class C misdemeanor, a term not to exceed three months; (4) for an unclassified misdemeanor, a term in accordance with the sentence specified in the section of the general statutes that defines the crime.

 

Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-42. Fines for misdemeanors

A fine for the conviction of a misdemeanor shall be fixed by the court as follows: (1) For a class A misdemeanor, an amount not to exceed two thousand dollars; (2) for a class B misdemeanor, an amount not to exceed one thousand dollars; (3) for a class C misdemeanor, an amount not to exceed five hundred dollars; (4) for an unclassified misdemeanor, an amount in accordance with the fine specified in the section of the general statutes that defines the crime.

 

B. Federal vs. State Prosecutions

            Connecticut’s laws concerning controlled substances are largely based on the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970.  This federal legislation repealed most of the earlier federal anti-drug laws in favor of a comprehensive regime to combat the international and interstate traffic in illicit drugs. 
            The original enactment consists of three titles: Title I relates to the prevention and treatment of narcotic addicts through the Department of Health and Human Services; Title II addresses drug control and enforcement as administered by the Attorney General and the Drug Enforcement Administration; and Title III concerns the import and export of controlled substances.
            Title II of the Act, which is most relevant to most defendants charged federally with drug offenses, is popularly known as the "Controlled Substances Act", or simply the "CSA”.  The CSA categorizes controlled substances into five schedules, depending on their accepted medical uses, potential for abuse, and psychological and physical effects on the body.  Each schedule is associated with a distinct set of controls regarding the manufacture, distribution, and use of the substances listed therein, and the applicable provisions set forth strict requirements regarding registration, labeling, packaging, production quotas, drug security, and record-keeping.  The CSA specifies prohibited acts and penalties and sets forth administrative and enforcement provisions. The Drug Enforcement Administration enforces the laws and regulations set forth in the CSA.
            Congress’ power to establish penalties and prosecution procedures for defendants, under the CSA, stems from its constitutional authority over the areas of interstate commerce, taxation.  Prohibited offenses under the CSA include: drug trafficking; manufacturing of illegal drugs; continuing criminal enterprise crimes (targeting leaders of large drug trafficking regimes); specific location offenses (ie. school zones, day care centers); and simple possession crimes.  While the underlying conduct required for commission of these crimes may be the same at a state and federal level, the punishment is often more severe when prosecuted under federal law.  This is because the Controlled Substances act often imposes mandatory minimum sentences for offenses committed with specified minimum weights of controlled substances (set forth in 21 U.S.C.A. § 841(b)(1)(B)(v)) where State law does not. For example, the U.S. Supreme Court in Burgess v. U.S., 128 S. Ct. 1572 (2008), held that a state drug offense classified as a misdemeanor, but punishable by more than one year's imprisonment, is a "felony drug offense" within the meaning of the provision of the CSA imposing a 20-year mandatory minimum sentence for certain drug offenses.
            While the CSA authorizes federal prosecution for almost any drug offense, the DEA tends to focus its time and resources on the most serious offenders who engage in serious interstate trafficking of controlled substances.  Additionally, Connecticut law provides defendants protection from being subject to the “double jeopardy” and piling on of penalties that would result from both state and federal prosecution for the same offense.  Conn. Gen. Stat. § 21a-282 provides:

No prosecution where federal action has been taken

No person shall be prosecuted for a violation of any provision of sections 21a-243 to 21a-282, inclusive, if such person has been acquitted or convicted under the federal Controlled Substances Act or under the federal food and drug laws for the same act or omission which, it is alleged, constitutes a violation of said sections.

It is important for any defendant facing drug charges to understand whether he/she is being prosecuted under state or federal law, and to employ a qualified criminal defense attorney in either case. 


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