Post Courtesy of Arizona Criminal Law Team
Willfully possessing illegal controlled substances is considered a crime under both federal and state laws. If you or a loved one gets arrested for drug possession, the first and most important thing that you should do is hire a criminal defense lawyer immediately.
State and federal laws may vary in certain aspects, which is why what constitutes drug possession depends on the state where the crime was committed, as well as on other factors such as the type and amount of drug found in your possession. With a criminal defense attorney on your side, you should be able to understand your legal situation and be able to prepare to defend yourself in court.
Types of drug possession
A person can be arrested for possession of a controlled substance if the authorities determine that he or she has the ability to control the drug. There are two types of drug possession: Actual Possession and Constructive Possession.
If the law enforcement officer found the controlled substance inside your pants pocket, then you have committed actual possession. Sometimes referred to as “possession in fact,” actual possession is defined as having immediate physical contact with the drug. This is often the case if drugs are found on the person.
Constructive possession, on the other hand, occurs when the drug is not found on the person but is found on or around the person’s property. It’s also called “possession in law,” which implies the person has knowledge of the presence of the substance on his or her property and has the ability to control it. With constructive possession, more than one person can be charged with possession of the same drug.
Drug Possession: Misdemeanor or Felony?
Whether a person caught possessing a controlled substance will be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony can depend on the following factors:
Type of Drug: In some states, getting caught with marijuana means being slapped with a misdemeanor charge. There are even states that punish marijuana possession with a simple traffic citation. However, you could get charged with a felony if the drugs involved are more serious drugs like heroin, crack cocaine, or crystal meth.
Amount of Drug: The higher the amount of drugs found in your possession, the higher the likelihood that you will be charged with a felony. Most state drug laws have set minimum amounts of drugs caught in an individual’s possession that will merit a felony charge. However, people caught with possessing small amounts of drugs and common materials used for selling drugs, such as digital scales or plastic bags, will probably be charged with possession with intent to distribute, and that is a felony.
Intent: People caught with small amounts of drugs are often charged with a misdemeanor once it’s determined that they’re just for personal use. Felony charges are typically for those caught in possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute.
Being charged with possession of a controlled substance is not to be taken lightly. If you’re facing drug possession charges, waste no time in getting the services of a good criminal defense lawyer to help you prepare a comprehensive defense in court.