Drug possession is a serious charge. In most instances, drug possession is a felony, punishable by a sentence of up to three years. Drug possession with intent to distribute or sell is a more serious crime, with a potential sentence for most controlled substances of four or more years.
Drug possession laws apply to the possession of any controlled substance. Controlled substances are classified by federal law. These include not only familiar street drugs but prescription pharmaceutical drugs possessed without a valid prescription.
Possession can consist of actual possession, joint possession, or constructive possession. Constructive possession means that you did not have the drug in your immediate control but effectively had control over it, such as having it in your house.
To convict an individual of drug possession, the prosecution must show that you knowingly possessed a controlled substance, knew that it was a controlled substance, and that there was enough of the drug present to be used as a controlled substance. If an individual does not know that he or she possesses the drug, such as where another person leaves it in the individual's car, there can be no conviction for drug possession. If only trace amounts of a controlled substance are present (i.e. there is not a usable quantity), there likewise can be no conviction for drug possession.
In many instances, a first conviction for non-violent drug possession will not result in any prison time. Rather, the defendant will be sentenced to a drug diversion program. In some cases completion of the drug diversion program will eliminate the crime from the defendant's record.
If you have been arrested for possession of a controlled substance, you should seek out the services of an experienced Los Angeles County drug possession defense attorney. Richard J. Beada Attorney at Law has over 30 years of experience representing individuals charged with possession of controlled substances. Call our office today at (310) 393-7536 for a free confidential consultation.