Laws For Possession of a Controlled Substance

Laws For Possession of a Controlled Substance

Controlled substances are defined as drugs or materials that the government has decided to enforce regulations on. When a person is in possession of controlled substances, it doesn’t automatically mean they have committed a crime. For example, it may be legal to have certain drugs on you and only use them under specific situations (like under the supervision of a doctor or when participating in research). The possession and use of such substances, though, can be illegal when there is no legal, valid reason to do so. 

What are the elements of being in illegal possession of controlled substances?

As stated above, being in unlawful possession of a controlled substance happens when a person keeps such a drug without permission or legal justification. Those who want to know whether they are in violation of the law are encouraged to look into laws for the state they reside in. Additionally, some drugs may be permitted for use but only with a prescription from a medical doctor. 

For a person to be found guilty of unlawful possession of controlled substances, the prosecution has to prove the following elements applied: 

  • The person knew they were in possession of the controlled drug. To be deemed as a crime, the person in possession must have been purposely and knowingly carrying the item. The prosecution only has to show how the accused person knew the items were present and had intent to control or use them through the circumstances of the arrest.

  • The person was in control of the illegal drug. The person had been found in physical control of the drug itself, whether it be actual or constructive possession. With constructive possession, this means the drug wasn’t on their person, but it was found in their home, car, purse, or backpack.

  • The person was at least in partial control of the substance. For instance, all the parties living in the same home together may be convicted of drug possession. The prosecution must show that each party had, at one point or another, been in control of the drugs or made incriminating statements.

What are the penalties for a drug possession charge?

The penalties for drug possession can range greatly depending on the state, how much of the drug was found, the type of drug, and whether it was for personal use or distribution. When the court is deciding what penalties to inflict, the criminal background of the accused is likely to be taken into consideration as well.

The potential repercussions for drug possession can include: 

  • Expensive fines. Ranging anywhere from a hundred dollars, to hundreds of thousands of dollars. 
  • Going to jail. If convicted, the person may be required to go to jail for several days or even years. 
  • Being put on probation. Usually enforced in combination with other consequences, the person has to abide by rules determined by the court.  
  • Needing to complete drug rehabilitation. May be used along with probation and instead of a jail sentence.
  • Attending a diversion program. Similar to probation, but aimed more for first-time offenders, where they have to attend counseling or another type of behavior modification. 

If you or someone you know has been charged with possession of drugs, contact a drug lawyer, like a drug lawyer in San Francisco, CA, to help represent you in court. 

Thanks to The Morales Law Firm for their insight into some of the consequences for possession of drugs and how someone could be convicted in court.