A drug possession charge often carries with it either a jail sentence or a fine, and very often a probationary period or community service requirement is given to the offender. The penalties for a drug possession charge will vary from place to place, but in general, some sort of penalty will be issued. The lasting effects of the drug possession charge can linger, however, making a job search and even making travel to another country more difficult. Many offenders find it difficult to find or keep a job after being charged with possession, and other implications may accompany drug charges.
Many employers now ask potential employees to list and describe any felonies or misdemeanors the candidate may have committed. While this alone is not always reason to discount the candidate from employment, it can make the candidate's job prospects much dimmer. Employers prefer to hire employees without a criminal record, so a drug possession charge can make the candidate's application less appealing to a potential employer. Depending on the circumstances of the drug possession charge, a current employer may also choose to terminate the employee, though the employer must be careful to do so lawfully. If the drug charges affected the business in any way — the employee missed a shift, for example, or was in possession of the drugs while at work — the employer has a reason and the right to fire the employee.
The more serious drug possession charge of possession with the intent to sell or distribute almost always carries a prison sentence with it. The sentence will vary depending on the judge hearing the case, but an offender can spend a year or more in prison due to possession with an intent to sell or distribute. More minor cases of drug possession may be handled by requiring the offender to attend a substance abuse program, which may last anywhere from several weeks to several years, depending on the severity of the charges and whether or not the offender has been charged for the first time, or if he is a repeat offender.
Other issues that may arise as a result of a drug possession charge include suspension or expulsion from school, especially if the offender is caught on campus with the drugs or if he has sold or intended to sell drugs on a school campus. A school may choose to suspend the student or expel the student, though other courses of action may also be taken depending on the severity of the crime.