The most common drug charge is possession of a controlled substance. Generally, for a possession conviction the district attorney must prove that you:
- knowingly and intentionally possessed a controlled substance
- without a valid prescription, and
- in a quantity sufficient for personal use or sale.
A possession charge can be based on actual or “constructive” possession of a controlled substance. So, even if you don’t actually have the drugs on you, like in a pocket, for example, you can still be charged with possession if you have access to and control over the place where the drugs were found, like in your car. Unlike DUI/DWI laws, police enforcement does not have to actually prove that you are under the influence of a controlled substance in order to charge you with possession.
Possession charges also apply to situations where you are caught with drug paraphernalia, such as syringes, cocaine pipes, scales, etc. You can be charged with a misdemeanor or even felony if found in possession of these and even if you don’t actually have any drugs on you.
Penalties for drug possession charges range broadly from state to state. The harshness of the penalty depends upon several factors: the specific drug(s) involved, the circumstances surrounding the possession, and your criminal history.
- Fines. Many drug possession convictions result in fines. These can range from very minor fines of less than $100 to fines of $100,000 or more.
- Incarceration. It is likely that you will face jail or prison time if you are charged with possession of a controlled substance. Jail sentences can range from a few days or weeks to 10 years or more in prison.
- Probation. This is a period of time determined by the judge during which you may have to serve some jail time as well as pay fines and/or go to rehab. If you are charged with possession and are given probation, you will have to check in regularly with a probation officer and to comply with the specific terms you were given. If you fail to comply with the terms of your probation, often times you will have to serve a jail sentence.
Should I go to Rehab If I’ve Been Charged with Possession?
If you are a first time offender charged with possession, you might be able to take advantage of something called Diversion. This is where rehab comes in. Diversion programs are similar to probation, in that there are stipulations set for a period of time. A prosecutor allows you to go to rehab by entering into a counseling and behavior program. If you complete a substance abuse program and do not commit any more offences during the diversionary period, usually anywhere from 6 to 18 months, the case will be dismissed and you will have a clean record. You won’t even have to divulge that you have been arrested or convicted of a crime for say a job application.
Charged with Possession: Rehabilitation
Many states allow courts to sentence people charged with possession and other drug charges to a period of rehabilitation at a drug treatment program or rehab instead of a jail sentence. If this is your first offence being charged with possession, then you may want to go to rehab instead of serve jail time, if that option is offered. This is more than likely the first time you’ve gotten caught, not necessarily the first time you have been in possession of drugs. Getting caught just might be the wakeup call you need in order to go to rehab and get help before things get really out of hand. Because, usually there will be more problems to follow once you’ve been caught once.
If you or your loved one has been arrested for possession and is in need of rehab, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.