The charge of drug possession or possession of other illegal controlled substances occurs only when a defendant is knowingly in possession of the substance. This requires two things. First, the defendant must have known that he or she was carrying the drug or substance at issue. Second, the defendant must have known, or reasonably should have known, that the substance he or she was carrying is actually illegal.
There are two Categories of Possession of Illegal Drugs
While simple drug possession is often a misdemeanor, possession with intent to distribute typically carries a much harsher sentence. Laws often distinguish between the two based on the amount of drugs in a person’s possession at the time of arrest, as large quantities of a drug suggest the person intends to share it or sell it to others. However, other evidence of distribution may also be obtained, such as scales, plastic baggies, business cards, or statements from witnesses who received drugs from the defendant. Defendants charged with simple possession are typically subject only to fines and possible probation or rehabilitation programs. Those charged with possession with intent to distribute may face fines up to $100,000 or more and possible incarceration of up to 10 years, depending on the type of drug and the amount in possession.