Possessing a controlled substance is a very severe crime involving the possession of drugs or even just drug paraphernalia. Specifically, these drugs are well defined under the Controlled Substances Act, a federal law that’s organized into five different schedules, depending on the substance. Each schedule has a variety of drugs that it covers, but some common ones included within them are drugs like marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, and LSD. If you are caught, you’ll need the help of a Los Angeles criminal lawyer, who can plead you out to a lesser sentence.

“Possessing” one of these drugs generally refers to when a person has both the ability and the intention to control the drugs, regardless of who actually “owns” them. Determining possession is usually done in two different ways:

Actual Possession: This is where the controlled substance is physically in control of the person, such as them carrying it.
Constructive Possession: This is where the substance isn’t physically with the person but in their vicinity or around their property. To prove this, it must be shown that the person knew about the drugs and had access to control them.

Establishment of possession can be and is often determined while the police are investigating another crime. For example, if the police were to pat you down after detaining you for a violent crime and find the substances in your pocket.

How Serious is the Charge?

Possession of a controlled substance is a very serious charge that can be treated as a misdemeanor, but also as a felony, depending on a few different factors:

The Type: Drugs are not punished equally. For example, someone found guilty of marijuana possession is generally not punished as severely as someone who was found with cocaine or heroin.

The Amount: The larger the amount of controlled substances you’re found with makes it likelier that you’ll be punished more severely. Depending on the amount, it can even bump up charges from a misdemeanor to a felony.

The Intent: What you are planning to do with it is also considered. Someone with a controlled substance wanting to use it for just personal use is generally given a much less severe punishment than if someone was found with the intent to distribute it to others.