Possession of Controlled Substances

Any possession of a controlled substance is illegal under state and federal law, with some exceptions for medical marijuana. Controlled substances refer to illegal drugs; or to improper access to controlled substances; prescription medications that are not the possessor’s, or any other substance or material classified as such. Possession is generally charged as a felony.

Drug possession is a serious criminal offense that requires the skill and experience of a drug defense criminal attorney. If you have been charged, immediately contact the offices of James Silverstein.

For small amounts of marijuana, such as under an ounce, many states have either deemed such possession an infraction or as a misdemeanor. Infractions do not carry any criminal penalties.

Some of the more common types of controlled substances that defendants are found in possession include:

  1. Cocaine: It is usually sniffed but can be smoked in a form known as crack, which is highly addictive.
  2. Heroin: This drug is a derivative of the opium plant. It can be smoked but is generally taken by intravenous injection.
  3. Methamphetamine: Also known as crystal meth, it can be made by the right mix of common substances. It is also highly addictive.
  4. Marijuana: This is the most widely used and possessed illegal drug in the US.

Proof of Guilt

The state must prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. To prove possession, the state must show you knew of and did control the illegal substance. If the drug is found in your car, home, or person, it is usually evidence of possession.

You can also be charged with possession of drug related paraphernalia such as pipes or bongs used to smoke marijuana, which is generally a misdemeanor.


Most states will give first-time drug possession defendants an alternative to entering a plea of conviction with a deferred sentence. The defendant must agree to attend drug counseling classes and to refrain from committing any other criminal offenses during a probationary period. Upon completion, the charges are dismissed and the defendant will have no criminal record.

Some states also have drug courts that will also give repeat nonviolent drug offenders an opportunity to stay out of the court system if they are determined to be addicted. The offenders are typically kept in treatment programs for at least one year, are routinely and randomly drug tested, and required to make frequent court appearances where their progress is monitored.

Attorney James Silverstein can help you determine if you are eligible for a deferred sentence or if drug court is appropriate for you.


Most defenses center on whether the defendant was the only person who could have possessed the drug, or if he or she knowingly possessed it. Also, evidence obtained in violation of the search and seizure laws may exclude all or most key evidence.

If charged with any drug offense, consult with a criminal attorney who has successfully defended numerous clients charged with drug possession crimes. Call James Silverstein today for a free consultation.