Written by Canterbury Law Group

What is a Possession Charge?

What is a Possession Charge

It is against both state and federal laws to willfully have possession of controlled substances like LSD, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana. The laws also include the chemicals used in the manufacture and cultivating of drugs including accessories associated with the use of drugs. Read on to learn more.

Requirements To Prove Possession

Depending on the state laws may vary but there are commonalities they all have.For example:

  • Prosecutors must prove the accused person knew they had possession over the drug.

This includes “constructive possession.” Meaning the person had access to the drug even if they did not have it on them at the time.

Categories of Drug Possession Laws

With simple possession charges different states have different categories for particular drugs. However when it comes to possession with the intent to distribute he penalties can be far greater. However the prosecutor has to prove intent to distribute.

Drug Paraphernalia

This includes bongs, syringes and crack pipes. The Federal Drug Paraphernalia Statute defines this but usually it is decided on what the primary use of the item us. A water pipe, newly obtained with no signs of previous use may not be considered paraphernalia unless it was sold as a bong. Certain chemicals and materials used for the manufacture and cultivation of drugs are also considered to be paraphernalia.

Unlawful Search and Seizure

Your due process of law including search and seize procedures are protected by the Fourth Amendment. When drugs are found in plain view they may be confiscated and used as evidence. But if they are found in the trunk of a vehicle and the suspect did not consent to a search, it cannot be entered as evidence. Violation of a defendants fourth amendment rights mean the drugs are not permissible to be used at trial often resulting in the charges being dismissed.

The Drugs Are Not Yours

You can say the drugs do not belong to you and you had no knowledge of their whereabouts. An attorney can press the prosecutors to prove you are the owner and not someone else in the house, a roommate, visitor, or passenger in the car.

Lab Analysis

If something looks like a drug it does not mean it is a drug. The prosecution mist proves the substance that has been seized is the illicit drug by obtaining test results from a crime lab. The analyst must then testify at trial asserting the results of the test.

Missing Drugs

Often drugs can come up missing as a result of them being transferred around the system before they go to the destination of the evidence locker. Never assume evidence exists at trial time.

Planted Drugs

As a Police officers’ sworn testimony tends to carry a great deal of weight, it may not be easy to find a reluctant to speak against a colleague. But a motion can be filed and if the judge gives their approval it means the department is obliged to release the file of complaint. This includes who made the complaints and they can be interviewed by a private investigator or attorney.


This is when an informant of police officer induces someone to commit a crime they may not have otherwise performed. For example, applying pressure to pass drugs along to a third party. Usually this applies when the state is the source of the drugs that have been provided.

Medical Marijuana

Although it does not apply for federal charges, it may do for state charges in states where it is legalized. More often than not requiring a signed recommendation from a Doctor, charges can be dropped when there is convincing evidence of the medical necessity.

Need Help?

If you are facing drug charges, there may be defenses open to you that you have not considered. From how testimony was collected, how your rights were explained, whether evidence was preserved, an experienced attorney can help to get the best possible result.

Source: https://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-charges/drug-possession-defenses.html

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*This information is not intended to be legal advice. Please contact Canterbury Law Group today to learn more about your personal legal needs.

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