Drug crimes are more severely punished than many other crimes. Despite recent reforms in the law to de-stigmatize recreational drug use, drug possession can still result in significant time behind bars and other serious penalties. Loveland criminal defense attorney Sean P. Harrell is a former prosecutor, so he knows how the state builds these types of cases and their potential weaknesses. Contact us online or call (970) 791-2006 today to learn how we can help.
What Is Drug Possession?
A criminal offense involving drug possession must involve both of these terms for the prosecution to make their case. A “drug” or controlled substance is a substance that is regulated by the government. These are classified into different schedules. Schedule I drugs are those with a high addiction factor while Schedule V drugs have less risk for addiction. Examples of drugs and the schedules they fall under include:
- Schedule I – Heroin, ecstasy, GHB
- Schedule II – Opium, morphine, cocaine, methamphetamine
- Schedule III – Anabolic steroids, medications containing small amounts of morphine
- Schedule IV – Xanax, Ambien
- Schedule V – Medications with small amounts of opium or codeine
The second element of this crime, possession, can take on many forms, including:
- Actual possession in which you are physically touching the drug or it is on your person, such as in your pocket
- Constructive possession or having control over a drug without touching it
- Joint possession or co-owning the drug with someone else
To prove possession, the prosecutor must prove that you had physical control over the drug, not just that it was close to you.
Penalties for Drug Possession
A significant reform in the law in March 2020 made it so that most drug possession charges are misdemeanors. Possession of up to four grams of certain controlled substances, including cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and ecstasy, is considered a misdemeanor. Additionally, those who are convicted of misdemeanor possession can receive two years of probation rather than serving time in jail. Therefore, the penalty for possession is often up to two years of probation and a fine of $1,000.
Even though these charges do not impose the same severe penalties as they did before, they can still affect your life. Additionally, there are situations where the charges and penalties can be more severe. The potential penalties depend on many factors, including:
- The schedule of the drug
- The amount of the drug
- The purpose of possession
- Previous criminal history
A person found in possession of more than four grams of any Schedule I or II drug faces a conviction of a level 4 felony. Additionally, a person can be charged with this crime if they possess any amount of ketamine, GHB, cathinone, or flunitrazepam.
This offense is punished by up to one year of imprisonment and a fine of up to $100,000, followed by a year of parole.
It is a level 2 drug felony to be in possession of a substance that is more than 60% fentanyl, benzimidazole opiate, or carfentanil. If a person is found to be in possession of such substance while they are on parole for another felony, currently jailed as a convicted felon, an escaped prisoner, or on bond or probation in some cases, they can face aggravated felony possession charges.
Contact a Former Prosecutor to Help with Your Case
Sean P. Harrell can use his knowledge and experience as a former prosecutor to help prepare your defense strategy. Contact our Loveland drug possession attorney today for a confidential consultation. Call us at (970) 791-2006 or fill out our online form.