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Drug Crime

Idaho still has drug laws steeped in the “tough on crime” policies of the later half of the 20th century. While there is some national political energy behind changing these policies, that energy has yet to reach Idaho. What this means for someone accused of a drug crime in Idaho is that they are in for a tough fight against steep penalties and draconian laws. If you have been charged with a crime in Idaho, the Idaho criminal defense lawyers at Racine Olson, PLLP can walk you through every step and help you prepare the best defense possible.

Lay Terminology

When most people think of drug offenses, they tend to think about users, local dealers, and the cartel. The truth is that there are a lot of people in between the cartel and the street side dealer that are involved in the drug trade. At the bottom of illegal drug activity are drug users. Drug users purchase their drugs from local dealers on the street, in houses, parks, and back alleys.

Dealers purchase pre-packaged drugs from packagers who act as low level distributers, converting bulk product into something that can be sold on the street. If you have ever heard about some drug being “cut” – this is where it usually happens.

Packagers buy “weight,” or drugs in bulk, from middle level distributors on either a regional, state, or multi-state level. There can be a lot of people involved at this level that are somehow involved in distribution of drugs in bulk quantities. These categories are not fixed, and the lines can easily blur. Additionally, some drugs, like meth, can be manufactured locally, and therefore require a less lengthy distribution process.

Finally, middle level distributors purchase drugs from international distributors and producers who are usually connected with a cartel. (Please note, the rest of this article will deal with in state drug crime only).

Idaho Drug Crime

In Idaho, drug crime falls into one of three categories; possession, possession with intent to deliver, and trafficking. There are giant differences between the potential penalties for these different crimes, and which category or sub-category you fit into depends on several factors. A criminal defense attorney in Idaho can help protect you against over-aggressive police and prosecutors.

Possession is a crime for end users of drugs; people who are addicts or recreational users. Possession penalties range from felony to misdemeanor, with maximum penalties anywhere from six months to seven years of incarceration. Possession penalties can be harsh for someone who has committed a minor crime. If you have been accused of possession, it’s important to have an attorney on your side to protect your rights.

Possession with Intent to Deliver is the crime of dealing drugs. Most street level drug dealing falls into this category. Penalties depend on the type of drug and are mostly felonies, with potential sentences as high as life imprisonment. End users can be charged with possession with intent to deliver if they have a certain quantity of drugs in their possession. The prosecution’s theory is anyone with a certain amount of drugs must be dealing, because no one would have that for personal use. This is of course not true, where some users, especially in rural areas, come into the city to buy in bulk.

Trafficking is the crime of dealing a large quantity of drugs. This is by far the most serious drug crime in Idaho. All of the trafficking offenses are felonies, and all come with severe mandatory minimum sentences. The minimum weight of drugs for trafficking are 1 lb. of marijuana, 28g of cocaine, 28g of meth, and 2g of heroin. None of these amounts are very high. Which means even low-level dealers or regular users could get charged with trafficking and be looking at many years or even life in jail.


A number of things can increase the basic drug penalties. A second offense, presence in a school zone, or delivery to a minor all come with a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum of life imprisonment. If carrying a gun, mere possession of a controlled substance will get you an additional misdemeanor.

Fighting Drug Charges

First and foremost, drug charges can be fought at trial. It is up to the prosecution to prove every element of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. There are multiple ways for a criminal defense lawyer in Idaho to poke holes in the prosecution’s case or develop a counter narrative. All cases should be prepared to go trial, rather than prepared to plea. Going into a case looking to plea is a guaranteed way to get a bad plea deal. Being prepared and willing to go to trial forces prosecutors to offer better terms, and gets better outcomes for the accused.

Contact Us

The knowledgeable, experienced, and diligent attorneys at Racine Olson, PLLP are here to help you and your family when you need it the most. Whether a misdemeanor or felony, our Idaho criminal defense attorneys are prepared to guide you through the legal process and fight for you at every turn. Call us toll free at 877.232.6101 or 208.232.6101 for a consultation with the Racine Olson, PLLP team of criminal defense attorneys. You can also email us directly at We stand ready to answer your questions and help solve your criminal defense needs.

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