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Drug Possession

Possession of a Drug or Narcotic

What is the criminal charge of possession of a drug or narcotic?

Quite simply, in most jurisdictions, it is illegal to possess a drug or narcotic that the state statutes outline as being prohibited. For example, in most states, possessing marijuana is illegal and the possession of it is a crime. Most jurisdictions will make it different levels of seriousness depending on how much quantity of marijuana you possess. Typically, if it is less than a gram it is a misdemeanor. If it’s more than 20 grams, it’s usually a felony.

The more illegal substance or narcotic you possess, the more serious the charge and the greater likelihood of incarceration.

Some states impose minimum mandatory sentences, which means if you posses more than a certain amount of the substance you will have to serve a mandatory certain amount of time.

To be charged with possess of a drug or narcotic, here’s what has to occur:

You must possess it. There are two ways to possess a substance; actual possession and constructive possession.

Actual possess means it’s on a person—it’s in your hands, in a wallet, in a purse or in a shirt pocket. Constructive possess is a little different. It means you possess the substance but you do so constructively. You may be in a room with a kilo of cocaine 5 feet from you. Although you do not have it on you, you have the ability to exercise dominion or control over it.

If ten people are setting around a table of with a kilo of cocaine in the middle, all ten people could be charged with possessing that cocaine if they had knowledge that it was cocaine and they have the ability to exercise dominion or control over it.

A common question that comes up is, if I’m in a car and there’s a kilo of cocaine in the trunk, can I be charged with possession of the narcotic if I don’t know it’s there? The answer usually is no.

Most states require the prosecutor to prove two things:
1. That you had knowledge of the substance’s location
2. You had the ability to exercise dominion or control over it.

Contact Carlson Meissner for a Free Consultation regarding your drug possession case.