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Possession of a Controlled Substance

Regardless of where you live, possession of a controlled substance is a serious criminal offense in the United States. While most people assume “controlled substances” refers only to illegal drugs, the term actually applies to any drug, chemical, or material that has restricted use. As a result, it is not only illegal to possess drugs like marijuana, but also certain medications that require a prescription. You can even face criminal charges if the substance belongs to someone else—whether you knew about it or not.

Legally speaking, anyone in the company of a person with illegal drugs or medication can be prosecuted if he or she knew or had a “reasonable ability” to know the substance was in the other person’s possession. In other words, if you are in a friend’s car and a law enforcement officer finds drugs in the vehicle, you will both be charged with possession of a controlled substance. This is because, as a passenger, the law assumes you know whether the person driving you has drugs in his or her possession—hence the “reasonable ability” clause.

Although each state has its own specific sentencing guidelines for the charge, even first-time offenders often face hefty fines and possible jail time if they are found guilty of possessing a controlled substance. Depending on the state, the offense may be classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony. However, many courts show leniency to first-time offenders by offering a reduced sentence of community service and/or probation instead of jail.

Of course, prosecutors usually don’t just offer reduced sentences to an offender. In most cases, you must obtain legal counsel in order to negotiate a plea bargain with the assigned prosecutor. Fortunately, with the right attorney, many individuals are able to avoid time in jail and often keep their conviction off their criminal record.

Remember, with all penalties associated with possession of a controlled substance, you need all the help you can get. Simply take a look at the list below to see what type of sentence you face in your state, and you’ll see just why it’s so important to seek legal counsel immediately after your arrest.



If you were charged with possession of a controlled substance, submit your information online today. A skilled criminal defense attorney will be in contact with you shortly to schedule a free, no-obligation evaluation of your case.