Drug possession, from a legal standpoint is often known as Possession of a Controlled Substance – with that substance being illegal narcotic drugs, as well as other materials such as paraphernalia, which the federal and/or state governments have deemed to be illegal and, in some sense, dangerous and need to be regulated. Possession of a controlled substance isn’t necessarily a crime. For many substances, it’s legal to possess and use them when done under certain circumstances, such as under a doctor’s supervision or during scientific research. Possession and use become illegal, however, when no legal justification applies, or when the substance (such as heroin), has absolutely no legitimate use. In the event you have been charged with the possession of some type of controlled substance it is vital that you hire an experienced attorney to handle your case. Let’s face it though, the drug laws in our state, as well as our country have certainly failed us – with more addicts than ever before, police are more focused on locking up users for possession than they tracing back supply, and catching the real bad guys. So, while you might have a serious illness of addiction, the country is funneling rehabilitation to places in which it truly it doesn’t need to be. As the best criminal defense attorney NYC has to offer, Ms. Yanina Tabachnikova has a stellar track record in such cases, helping countless clients to earn their freedom against our country’s antiquated drug laws.
Controlled Substances & The Controlled Substances Act
With many considering drug laws in our country to truly be flawed, police have to make their numbers and the country hears about new types of opiates flooding the streets and killing our youth off one by one, with each passing day. In response to similar concerns, in years past our federal government had to do something.
So, the government lists the various types of drugs it considers to be “controlled,” that is, available (if at all) only through a valid prescription or other legitimate avenues. The federal scheme – contained in the Controlled Substances Act – divides-controlled substances into five “schedules” of drugs, with the most dangerous substances in Schedule I and the least in Schedule V. This classification applies in federal drug cases, and many states have adopted the federal schedule. (21 U.S.C. §§ 801 and following.) To see the five schedules in the federal law, consult Section 812 of the Controlled Substances Act. For information on how your state classifies drugs, refer to the state-specific article listed below.
What is Illegal Drug Possession?
Illegal possession of a controlled substance occurs whenever a person owns or otherwise possesses a drug or other controlled substance, without legal justification or permission. These charges usually apply when a person is found carrying marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, or other narcotics. According to Ms. Tabachnikova, the key here is that in order to convict someone of illegal possession of a controlled substance, the prosecutor must prove the defendant knowingly possessed the drug. This is often what provides her many areas to poke holes in the prosecution’s case and grant her clients the freedom they deserve.
What Does Knowing Entail?
The crime of possessing a controlled substance occurs whenever a person knowingly or intentionally has control of a drug. However, the prosecution doesn’t have to show that the accused knew that the drugs were controlled or that possession in this circumstance was illegal. Prosecutors only need to prove that the accused knew the drugs were present and intended to use or control them. Prosecutors can show this from the circumstances of the case, and they do not need to have actual statements from the accused or evidence that the accused actually used the drugs.
Possession means that a person has personal and physical control over the illegal substance. Courts have held that a person can have either actual or constructive possession over the drug. This means a person has it in a pocket or otherwise in personal custody (actual possession), or the person has control over and access to the drug, such as by having the drugs in a car’s glove compartment, a bag, or hidden in the home (constructive possession). A defendant can be convicted of possessing a controlled substance if the prosecutor can show the accused had at least partial control over the drug. For example, two roommates could each be convicted of possession if they shared an apartment in which the police found marijuana. However, prosecutors must show more than that the two were merely roommates in the same home, for example, by proving that each defendant had control over the drugs or made incriminating statements about them.
Interestingly enough, while stop and frisk on train rides was a thing that happened for years on end – the vast majority of possession arrests occur in vehicles and it’s common for the police to find drugs in the car and charge the driver with possession. The police might also be able to charge the driver with possession if passengers are found with drugs on their person, or vice versa. However, even when the prosecutor can show that there were drugs in the car, the prosecutor must prove that the driver or passengers knew the drugs were there, or that they were near the driver or in plain view. Often, circumstantial evidence supplies this proof, which also shows that more than one person possessed the drugs. These cases are difficult to defend but using information such as this can be how Ms. Tabachnikova and her are able to get you your freedom.
Possession Versus Distribution or Sale
Depending on the circumstances, someone charged with possessing an illegal drug might instead end up facing charges of possession with intent to distribute – a much more serious charge than simple possession. Intent to distribute charges can be based on the amounts of drugs you might have in possession – generally when the amount is too large for personal use. Other evidence tending to show intent to distribute drugs includes having large stashes of cash, packaging materials, or customer lists.
When it comes to drug possession, the fact is that the United States government has had a long history of what many have referred to as the war on drugs – probably the only war that many would agree, that we have drastically failed at. The fact is that sure, while we have come a long way from NYC’s open air drug markets of the 70’s, the lines down Broadway, that look like they end at the release of the newest iPhone, indicative of the 80’s crack epidemic, the opiate epidemic is rampant and began because of American pharmaceutical companies doing their absolute best to get as many Americans addicted as possible. While this is an entirely different fight it has led to arrested everyday years later. And the thing to understand is that these arrests don’t lead to a slap on the wrist, but serious charges, actual trials, fines, and jail time that is generally too long, and absolutely does not fit the crime.
For possession charges there are a number of different factors to be aware of, such as the specific type of drug involved, the circumstances surrounding the possession, and the criminal history of the person possessing the drugs. Penalties for possession of Schedule I drugs are the most severe and Schedule V the least severe.
Fines: Many drug possession convictions result in fines. These can range from very minor fines of $100 or less to significant fines of $100,000 or more.
Incarceration: Jail or prison time is also possible when a person is convicted of possession of a controlled substance. Jail sentences range widely depending on the crime charged, the type of drugs involved, and the state’s laws, but can range from a few days or weeks to 10 years or more in prison.
To avoid such issues, and possible jail time, be sure to contact the Law Offices of Ms. Yanina Tabachnikova.