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What Does Conviction for Possession of Drugs Entail?

by Robert Kerr

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People convicted on the grounds of possession of drugs can face an array of penalties at the time of sentencing, which can vary from state to state. Conviction for simple drug possession can invite lenient penalties such a fine of less than $100 and/or a few days in jail, to stricter ones like a huge fine of thousands of dollars and several years in state prison.

The fact that simple drug possession attracts the lightest sentence should bring relief to those accused of it. However, the intent to distribute drugs or the manufacturing of drugs can bring you heftier consequences.

At times, prosecutors offer plea bargains to defendants, which might help them get some concession in the form of a reduced sentence, a lowered charge, the dismissal of the case, or a higher priority investigation.

Illegal drugs and narcotics are often referred to as “controlled substances.” Possession of drugs such as heroin, marijuana, or any other controlled substance, is a crime under the state as well as the federal laws.

Possession of Controlled Substance

A person is said to possess a controlled substance when he is found to be owning or otherwise possessing drugs or other illegal substances. The drugs in question include marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine (or meth), or other illegal narcotics.

Apart from that, certain legally available drugs or prescription medicines are also considered as controlled substances and possession charges can apply even if you are found possessing these medicines without a proper prescription.

Wondering what else could land you in legal trouble? Read on.

1. Intentional Control

You can be accused of the crime of possessing a controlled substance if you are found to be knowingly or intentionally keeping/retaining an illegal drug. In order to prove you guilty, the prosecution needs to establish that you knew that the drugs were illegal and yet you were in control of them and/or intended to use them.

Prosecutors can demonstrate this from the circumstances of the case, without the support of your statements or the evidence that you actually did use the drugs.

2. Being in Possession

Possession implies that you had personal and physical control over the controlled substance.  Several times, courts have ruled that a person can have either actual or constructive possession over the drug. This implies that you were either carrying it in your pocket (or another form of personal custody), or that you had control over it, for example by having it in your bag, hidden in your car or at home.

3. Partial Control

You can be convicted of possessing drugs if the prosecutor can prove that you had at least partial (or shared) control over the drug.

If drugs are found in an apartment shared by two roommates, for instance, each can be convicted for drug possession. To convict them, however, the prosecutor should be able to prove that they both, in fact did have control over the drugs while they were roommates in the same home.

Drug Possession Penalties

Depending on the state the crime occurred in, drug possession charges can lead to a wide spectrum of penalties.  The severity of the punishment will be based upon several factors such as the amount and the type of drug discovered, how the drug was found, and the criminal history of the person found possessing the drugs.

Let’s take a look at some of the important consequences that come with such as charge.

1. Fines

Most convictions for drug possession culminate in fines. These fines can be either very low i.e. even lesser than $100 or can go up to as high as $100,000 or above.

2. Imprisonment

Going to prison or serving jail time is also likely for a person convicted of drug possession. Jail sentences can differ depending on the nature of the crime, the type and the amount of drugs, and the state laws. Typically, it varies from a few days or weeks to a decade or more.

3. Probation

Probation statements are common in drug possession cases and are generally coupled with other penalties such as fines, jail time or rehabilitation. Probation will require you to be in touch with a probation officer and fulfill specific terms and conditions, failing which a jail sentence may come into effect for you.

4. Diversion Programs

These programs are, typically, used in first-time-offender cases. The prosecutor allows the drug offender to undergo a counselling and a behavior program which, just like probation, requires the offender to abide by certain terms and conditions for a stipulated period of time. The prosecutor can agree to drop the drug charges upon the successful completion of the program by you. However, if you do not go by the diversion terms and conditions, the prosecutor can pursue the matter further.

5. Rehabilitation

Several states make provisions for the court to sentence a drug offender to spending a fixed period of at a rehabilitation center or a drug treatment program. This is done in exchange for serving jail time. Attending rehabilitation can also be one of the terms in probation sentences.

Getting Legal Help

You need to ensure that you engage the best DUI lawyer to help you fight drug possession charges, thereby leaving you devoid of a criminal record.

Do hire an attorney from the state where you’ve been accused of such a crime. For instance, if you were charged for possession or driving under the influence of drugs in Chicago, look for a DUI lawyer in Chicago.

Not only will he would have specialized in fighting drug crimes, he will also be well-versed with the laws of the case. This could be immensely helpful for you.

Conclusion

While most people do not consider drug possession a serious crime, getting convicted for it can leave an impact on one for a long time. Apart from that, it also leads to establishing a criminal record, which could hinder you from living a normal life in the future. A skilled lawyer can be your best ally in such a situation. Do hire one who can protect your interests as well as your rights.

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