You may be charged with possession of a controlled substance when a law enforcer found an illegal drug in your possession.
Possession of substances such as Cocaine, Methamphetamine, MMJ, or narcotics without prescription can lead to a person getting charged with illegal possession.
This blog will offer insights into the implications of being charged with illegal possession. Read further to find out about the various criteria for charges, penalties, and means of dismissing charges.
Table of Contents
- What is a Controlled Substance?
- What does Possession of Controlled Substance Imply?
- What are the Penalties for Possessing Controlled Substances?
- How To Get Possession of a Controlled Substance Charge Dismissed?
What is a Controlled Substance?
Any drug that can lead to addiction or dependency and used illegally by a mass of people can be determined as controlled substances.
Controlled substances may include prescription drugs that only certified medical professionals can prescribe. It may also include illegal drugs like MMJ.
The Controlled Substance Act has classified the most dangerous narcotic substances from Schedule I to Schedule V based on their abuse potential. 6-MAM, LSD, and Ecstasy are the best examples of Schedule I drugs.
What does Possession of Controlled Substance Imply?
In most US States, possession of controlled substances is a felony. There might be regional exceptions to some substances from the controlled substance category. For example, recreational MMJ is legal in the following states
- Washington D.C
- New York
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
Although MMJ may not be a controlled substance in these States, all non-prescribed narcotic drugs are not exempted from the controlled substance category.
The term possession can be a little misleading. Possession does not simply imply that the drug has to be on a person for pressing charges. There are three cases of possession of controlled substances:
Actual: The drugs found on a physical person.
Constructive: The drugs found in a place that falls under your control. Backpacks, cars, and houses fall under the constructive possession of controlled substances.
Joint: Places where you have joint possession. Jointly possessed places can make you vulnerable to possession charges. Apartments and houses shared with a partner or roommate fall under the scope of joint possession.
What are the Penalties for Possessing Controlled Substances?
There are a broad set of penalties associated with possession charges. The severity of penalties depends on the drug and circumstances of possession. The history of the individual apprehended is also considered.
Penalties for possessing Schedule I drugs can be severe. The severity of penalties reduces while progressing to Schedule V. The different types of penalties include
Fines: Convictions of drug possession can result in fines. Depending on the circumstances, the fines can range from $100 or less to $100,000 or more.
Incarceration: Jail time is a possible penalty for possession charges. Jail sentences vary depending on the criminal charges, the type of drug, and the local laws. The range of incarceration may range from a few weeks or days to up to ten years.
Probation: Probation sentences are often clubbed with other penalties such as incarceration. A convicted person in probation must check with a probation officer and follow specific terms. When an offender does not follow the terms of probation, the court may revoke probation. When a probation sentence gets revoked, it implies that the defendant must serve a prison sentence.
Diversion: Diversion programs are usually offered to first-time offenders. A diversion program is like probation. In Diversion programs, offenders get a counseling and behavior modification program. Diversion programs require their compliance for a period.
The Diversion program often lasts for six months. The prosecutor drops drug charges once the program is complete. Failure to follow diversion terms implies that the charges are not lifted.
Rehabilitation: In most states, the court would sentence a rehabilitation period to an offender. The rehabilitation sentence would replace the jail sentence, and it is one means of decriminalizing drug abuse. Sometimes, probation terms would need rehabilitation attendance.
If the court finds out you are possessing drugs or it is a threat in case of child custody or DUI, the court may order a drug test.
How To Get Possession of a Controlled Substance Charge Dismissed?
There are some legal defenses that an accused can raise to defeat the charges of possession, such as:
No possession: An accused should prove in court that they did not have the drug in the first place.
Lawful Prescription: Having a prescription for the controlled substance, drops their charges.
Unlawful Search and Seizures: The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution grants freedom from unreasonable search and seizure procedures. If an accused can prove in court that they were subject to unlawful search and seizure, their charges will be dropped.
But, in most cases, charges are pressed when it is evident that a person possessed drugs intentionally for use or sale. The legal defenses mostly do not hold up in court under practical circumstances.
There are some exceptions for first-time offenders for possession of a controlled substance that can help in the successful dismissal of their charges.
The PC 1000 Drug Diversion Program, MCLA 333.7411, and drug courts are means of dismissing drug possession charges.
PC 1000 Drug Diversion Program
As discussed in the previous section, completing a Drug Diversion Program can help dismiss one's charges. The PC 1000 is a pretrial diversion program for simple possession crimes.
First time offenders get education and treatment instead of incarceration.
The MCLA 333.7411 is a legal statute that is commonly referred to as 7411. Attorneys evoke the 7411 in court by attorneys to dismiss a possession charge. 7411 is applicable when the evidence against an accused is significant, but they are first-time offenders.
Drug Courts are beneficial for first-time and non-violent offenders. They get a chance to resolve their cases outside the criminal justice system. Drug Courts take an interest in individuals who may benefit through rehabilitation. Participation and completion of drug treatment programs mandated by a drug court can lead to the dismissal of your criminal charges.
Having a possession charge pressed against you can have profound implications. Charges can have negative effects on employment, immigration consequences, adverse effects on gun rights, etc.
Although there are means of dismissing possession charges, these are for first-time offenders. You have to be responsible and accountable for your life, as all actions have consequences. The consequences of possession charges are significant deterrents from drugs.