What is a Simple Possession Charge?
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Samuel E. Bassett with Minton, Bassett, Flores and Carsey.
Possession charges arise when an individual is found to be in possession of an illegal or controlled substance, commonly drugs. Simple possession occurs when an individual knowingly possesses a substance, casually exchanges a substance not for monetary gain, or possesses a substance without the necessary medical prescription. In most cases, a simple possession charge is considered a misdemeanor, but if the individual in question has been charged previously, it might be escalated to a felony.
Criminal and administrative consequences, probation, imprisonment, property forfeiture, and court-ordered treatment counseling are a few possible outcomes of a simple possession charge. Depending on the state, punishments for simple possession of a drug can range in severity. Possession charges in Texas, for example, can be more severe than in other states, so it’s important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in your area if you are facing any kind of possession charge, especially if you have a criminal history.
Basic types of drug offenses in increasing order of severity include the following:
- Simple possession
- Possession with intent to deliver
- Manufacturing, selling, or delivering
- Conspiracy to manufacture or sell
- Continuing criminal enterprise (i.e. five or more people collaborate to sell drugs in a business that generates considerable income)
Simple possession charges generally come with the least severe penalties, but still need to be taken seriously. In many cases, a simple possession charge may result in a hefty fine, and if it is not the first offense, could even result in jail time. It’s important to note that for a prosecutor to prove that a simple possession charge is valid, they must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual in question intentionally possessed the illicit substance or controlled drug without a valid medical prescription.
Illicit or controlled drugs may be categorized in Schedules 1 through 5 and can vary by state.
Texas law categorizes controlled mind-altering drugs as follows:
- Schedule 1: These drugs are considered to have a high potential for abuse and no medical use. Schedule 1 drugs include marijuana, heroin, LSD, and Ecstasy.
- Schedule 2: These drugs require prescriptions and are considered to have a high potential for abuse and some medical use. Schedule 2 drugs include cocaine, methamphetamine, morphine, oxycontin, and opium.
- Schedule 3: These drugs require prescriptions, have a high potential for abuse, and serve a medical purpose. Schedule 3 drugs include Vicodin, anabolic steroids, and codeine.
- Schedule 4: These drugs require prescriptions, are considered to have a lower potential for abuse than Schedule 3 drugs, and serve a medical purpose. Schedule 4 drugs include tranquilizers and sedatives.
- Schedule 5: These drugs may or may not require prescriptions, are considered to have a relatively low potential for abuse, and serve a medical purpose. Schedule 5 drugs include drugs such as cough medicines with codeine.
Many argue that marijuana should not be included in the Schedule 1 category, and in some cases may be treated as a category of its own depending largely on the judge, prosecution, and defense involved in a particular case.
Simple possession charges may be refuted with the right defense.
If someone is wrongly accused of simple possession, a criminal defense attorney can help collect their relevant defenses to refute the claim. If the drug was prescribed or possessed in an insufficient quantity to warrant a charge, a defense attorney may be able to lift the charge entirely. In other cases of simple possession with no priors, a defense attorney may be able to negotiate for a gentler penalty depending on the circumstances of the case.
If you or a loved one are facing a simple possession or other type of drug charge, don’t wait to contact a defense attorney about your options.