In order to prove their case the prosecution in an unlawful possession of a controlled substance (commonly referred to as drug possession) charge must show that the person:
(1) Possessed and exercised dominion and control over the contraband. In other words the person had the drug either on his or her person or in a place controlled and accessible to them;
(2) Knew that the controlled substance or drug was present;
(3) Knew that the material was a controlled substance or drug; and
(4) Had an amount that is sufficient to be used.
Possession may be actual or constructive. Actual possession occurs when the person carries the substance on his or her person.
Constructive possession occurs when:
(1) A person maintains control of the drugs that are not on his or her person;
(2) When the drugs are somewhere that is accessible to the person and is under his or her control; or
(3) When the drug is in the physical possession of the person’s agent or of any other person as long as the person accused has control over it.
The fact that the drugs are found among the person’s personal effects is considered highly incriminating and be the basis to support a conviction of possession of a controlled substance.
The mere fact that a person was in close proximity to the drugs, or had access to the place where the drugs were stored, is not sufficient to show that he or she had possession, even if the person may have known that the substance was illegal. However, close proximity to a drug, coupled with other evidence of guilt, such as an inconsistent or improbable story or running from the police, can be enough to show a person is guilty of drug possession. That is why if you are charged with drug possession it is important that you do not speak to the police without an attorney present. The first thing any person charged with a crime should do is contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer who will fight for their rights.
Drug possession may be punishable by 16 months, two years, or three years in prison. However there are many options available where a person can avoid jail time altogether in lieu of counseling and drug treatment. These options are discussed below.
Proposition 36, also known as "Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act of 2000," was voted on and approved July 1, 2001. The law generally allows nonviolent drug offenders to avoid incarceration in lieu of drug treatment programs.
If a person is convicted of a nonviolent drug possession crime, a person eligible under Proposition 36 must receive probation. Following the successful completion of probation the charges will then be dismissed f the person followed the terms set by the court.
The term "nonviolent drug possession offense" does not include the possession for sale, production, or manufacturing of any drug, and it does not include possession of controlled substances, drugs, or drug paraphernalia where prisoners are kept.
If you are charged with a drug possession crime, the most important thing you can do is retain an experienced criminal defense lawyer who will fight for your rights and obtain the results you need. Contact our Los Angeles Drug Possession attorneys today