In the past decade, there has been a higher focus on illegal drug possession in the United States than ever before. Each state has it’s own set of drug laws, so make sure to check with your particular state for specifics.
Drug possession is one of the most common drug related charges, especially in relation to local drug laws. In these cases the government, which is usually the DA, has to prove that the person:
- Knowingly and intentionally possessed a controlled substance
- Possessed a prescription drug without a legal prescription
- The person had enough quantity for personal consumption and/or sale
Contrary to popular belief, a person can be charged with possession even if they do not have the actual drug on their person. Having the drug in your pocket is called “actual possession”, but you can also be charged based on “constructive possession”, which means drugs were found in a place the person charged has access to, such as a residence or a personal locker. This is typically seen when illegal drugs are found during a traffic stop in a person’s car.
You can also be charged without having any drugs in your possession or accessible to you, but by having drug paraphernalia such as pipes, scales or syringes. These are items that could be used for drug use, and a person could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony if found in possession of these objects.
If you are charged with drug possession, there are steps you must take to protect your legal rights if you plead not guilty. There are certain defenses that may or may not apply to your case, and you will need a criminal defense attorney to assist you in these next steps. While all states have their own set of drug laws, the defenses are very similar across the country. These include but are not limited to:
- Unlawful search and seizure
- Crime Lab Analysis
- Drugs belonging to someone else
- Drugs were planted
- Missing drugs (meaning the drugs cannot be produced at trial)
- Medical Marijuana exception
Your criminal defense will work with you to provide a suitable defense and inform you of your rights in your specific situation. No charge is 100% identical, which is why it’s important to employ a skilled expert of the law in your state.
- Attorney Matthews Bark In Orlando | “Facing a Prescription Drug Possession Charge in Chicago?” (attorneymatthewsbarkoforlando.wordpress.com)
- Controlled Substances # 1: Teaching Drug Possession (sentencing.typepad.com)