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Drug Charges and Possession of a Controlled Substance Cases in Alabama

Alabama laws for the possession or sell of illegal drugs are extremely harsh. Even the mere possession of a controlled substances carries with it serious penalties and indirect consequences that can last a lifetime.

Although in recent years, Alabama has begun to step away from a punishment-only in favor of a rehabilitative approach in drug court, not everyone qualifies. Even if you are eligible, many people contact us because they understand that these programs are not best for their particular circumstances.

If you've charged with a narcotics-related crime in Madison County or Huntsville, Alabama, then a strong defense is required. It is possible to fight these cases because the police make mistakes. In some cases, the evidence is insufficient.

In other cases, the stop or arrest was illegal, which requires the suppression of the drugs before trial. An experienced criminal defense attorney can find the flaws in the case against you and expose them.

Huntsville Drug Defense Lawyer

The defense attorneys at Law Offices of Segal & Segal are experienced in dealing with any kind of charge relating to illegal drugs or narcotics. They will look for the holes in the prosecution's case and the missteps the police made in gathering evidence and making the arrest.

They will fight the charges all the way to the jury if you choose to plead “not guilty,” but they'll also be sure to educate you on all your options, like drug court, so you'll be sure to make the best choice for yourself.

Andrew and Sandra Segal truly understand the criminal court and criminal procedure from all sides. In addition to representing clients, Andrew Segal is a former prosecutor for the Alabama Attorney General and Madison County District Attorney. Sandra Segal is a former prosecutor with the Huntsville City Attorney's Office.

Our attorneys strive to represent our profession with the honor and integrity it deserves — which means we have the respect and trust of jurors, judges, and even prosecutors. That could make a big difference when we're negotiating to reduce your charges or making an argument for you to the jury.

We proudly represent people accused of narcotics crimes throughout the Huntsville-Decatur area, including Madison, Morgan, Marshall, Limestone or Jackson County. Call us today at (256) 533-4529 or email us to set up a free consultation to discuss your narcotics charges.

Types of Controlled Substances in Alabama

Alabama law divides controlled substances into five “schedules.” The Alabama legislature divided the substance into schedules by their potential for abuse, whether they have an accepted medical use, and the capacity for dependency.

Schedule I are narcotics the Alabama legislature felt have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. This list includes marijuana, mescaline, peyote, LSD, heroin and other substances.

Schedule II are drugs that have a high potential for abuse, a restricted medical use and a potential for severe dependence. The list includes opium, cocaine and methadone.

Schedule III are substances that the Alabama legislature felt have less potential for abuse, an accepted medical use and a moderate to high dependence. It includes amphetamines and lysergic acid.

Schedule IV drugs have a low potential for abuse, an accepted medical use and have potential for limited dependence. It includes barbital and other compounds that have a depressant effect on the central nervous system.

Schedule V includes narcotics that have a low potential for abuse, an accepted medical use and the lowest potential for dependence. It includes certain amounts of codeine and other substances.

Although the law divides controlled substances into the schedules, the criminal statues mostly only distinguish between marijuana and any other controlled substances, and, even then, the law only applies separate penalties for possession. The law also bans prescription drugs without a prescription, and makes it a crime to use a forged prescription or any kind of prescription fraud to obtain controlled substances.

A law separate from the law defining certain schedules makes the possession of any synthetic drug, including spice, bath salts and synthetic cannabis, illegal.

Type of Drug Charges

Alabama law outlines penalties for a wide range of narcotics crimes. Selling tends to be punished more harshly than possession and trafficking is punished more harshly than selling. Narcotics charges might include:

Drug possession is the simplest drug crime. It includes possessing any kind of controlled substance other than marijuana, for which there are separate charges. Alabama is particularly harsh for possession: the possession of any amount of any controlled substance, other than an amount smaller than is specified in Schedule V, is a Class D felony. Even possession of drug paraphernalia, such as bongs, pipes, glass tubes, syringes, needles, and other projects, is a a Class A misdemeanor.

Drug distribution is a charge for the sale, delivery or distribution of any controlled substance, including marijuana. Unlawful distribution is a Class B felony. However, charges are greatly increased to a Class A felony if the sale is to a minor. Your sentence may be extended by an additional five years if the sale was within three miles of a school, university, or public housing project.

A law passed in 2012 determined that anyone charged with possession of eight to 28 grams of certain controlled substances is presumed to have the drugs in order to sell them, and maybe charged with unlawful possession with intent to sell. Applicable substances include cocaine, morphine, opiums, heroin, ecstasy, amphetamines and methamphetamines. The charge is a Class B felony.

Manufacturing narcotics, including the cultivation of plants to produce controlled substances and cooking meth, is also illegal. Two “degrees” of manufacturing include:

  • unlawful manufacture of a controlled substance in the second degree – the simple production of any controlled substance; and
  • unlawful manufacture of a controlled substance in the first degree – first-degree manufacturing is a Class A felony and can be charged under any of the following circumstances:
    • if there was a gun or booby trap involved;
    • if there was a clandestine lab for the production of narcotics from Schedules I or II;
    • if the lab was within 500 feet of a residence, place of business, school or church;
    • if a clandestine laboratory operation actually produced any narcotics;
    • if there was any illegal possession, transportation or disposal of hazardous chemicals that caused substantial risk to human health or safety; or
    • if a person younger than 17 was present during the manufacturing process.

Drug trafficking is basically an operation consisting of more than a simple dealer or small manufacturer. If you are accused of the sell, manufacture, or delivery of a certain amount of the controlled substance, then you could face serious drug trafficking charges. Trafficking is a Class A felony that carries a very serious mandatory minimum sentence.

Classifications and Penalties for Drug Charges

Legal penalties for narcotics charges in Alabama are harsh. The type of charge is the biggest determining factor:


Prison Time (Years)

Fines (Up to)

Class A Felony

10-99, or Life


Class B Felony



Class C Felony



Class D Felony



Class A Misdemeanor

Up to 1


Additionally, there may be mandatory minimum sentences and additional penalties, depending on the specifics of your charge. If you have prior convictions, it may also extend your penalties. 

However, strict penalties are not always given in drug cases.

If charged with possessing an illegal substance, you may be eligible to avoid a conviction even if you're guilty of the crime by attending either a pretrial intervention program or a drug court program. These programs exist in most courts in North Alabama. These programs exist to help people charged with drug crimes to get help for addiction and to avoid incarceration. Eligibility depends on a variety of factors although, these programs are typically not available to people who have a significant criminal history.

If you are a first-time offender or have a light criminal record, you may qualify for one of these programs. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you determine whether drug court or a pretrial intervention program is an option you want to pursue.

A variety of these programs exist in Madison, Morgan, Marshall, Limestone and Jackson Counties. All of these programs are rehabilitative programs, designed to help people struggling with substance abuse to get their lives back on track while avoiding prison time.

If you qualify, these programs can be your best option. Successful completion of these programs will allow a person to avoid a conviction and opened the door to having the charges erased through a process known as expungement. Feel free to contact us if you'd like help in determining her options.

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