Possession of Controlled Substances

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Possession of Controlled Substances Charges Defense Attorney

Serving all of Portland, Augusta, Bangor, Saco and Biddeford, Maine

In Maine, it's illegal to possess controlled substances. “Controlled substances,” however, are any drugs that the government regulates. This means that it's not just the drugs that are obviously illegal, like cocaine or heroin. Prescription drugs are also “controlled substances” because you need a prescription from a doctor in order to use them lawfully. This wide meaning of what a “controlled substance” is makes it very easy to illegally possess drugs, without even knowing it.

Classes of Controlled Substances

The state of Maine classifies drugs into four drug “Schedules.”

Schedule W is where the most serious drugs are found. Schedule W includes dangerous, highly addictive, drugs that have little to no medicinal purpose, like cocaine and heroin.

Schedule X includes addictive drugs and other hallucinogens that pose less of a threat, or have a higher medicinal value, than Schedule W drugs. The types of drugs included in Schedule X are, for example, peyote, ketamine, and other hallucinogenic substances that come from plants or mushrooms.

The substances listed in Schedule Y include predominantly prescription drugs. These drugs have high medicinal value, but can also be very addictive, and therefore easily abused. Included in Schedule Y are drugs like codeine, and valium.

Lastly, Schedule Z is a catch-all category, and includes all other prescription and non-prescription drugs not included in the other three Schedules. Marijuana is among the drugs listed in Schedule Z.

For a more complete listing of the drugs listed in each one of Maine's Schedules, you can read more in this post in our blog.

Penalties for Drug Possession

If you get convicted for drug possession, the penalty that you could face depends on the nature of the drug that you were in possession of, and how much of it you had.

Generally, drug possession is a misdemeanor charge. The exact penalties depend on which of Maine's controlled substance Schedules the drug belongs to:

 

Type of Crime

Jail time

Fine

Schedule W

Class D (Misdemeanor)

Up to 364 days

$2,000

Schedule X

Class D (Misdemeanor)

Up to 364 days

$2,000

Schedule Y

Class E (Misdemeanor)

Up to 6 months

$1,000

Schedule Z

Class E (Misdemeanor)

Up to 6 months

$1,000

However, possession of certain drugs carry elevated penalties. Possession of any of the following drugs is a Class C felony drug charge, which comes with a fine of up to $5,000, and up to 5 years in jail:

  • Hydrocodone,
  • Oxycodone,
  • Methamphetamine,
  • Hydromorphone, also known as Dilaudid,
  • Heroin, or
  • Crack cocaine, if you've had a prior drug conviction.

While a conviction for possessing these drugs comes with higher fines and a longer jail sentence, possession of over a specific amount of certain Schedule W drugs can turn charges from a Class D misdemeanor into a Class B felony. Class B felonies carry fines of up to $20,000, and up to 10 years in prison. These are the Schedule W drugs, and the amounts required, that can result in these elevated penalties:

  • Possession of 14 or more grams of either cocaine, or methamphetamine, or
  • Possession of 4 grams of more of crack cocaine.

What It Means to “Possess Drugs”

Now that we've been over what “controlled substances” are, and the kinds of penalties that come with a conviction for possessing them, what does it actually mean to “possess drugs”? This might seem like a silly question, but remember that it's up to the prosecutor to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you were doing this, in order for you to be convicted on a charge for drug possession.

In order to convict you for a misdemeanor drug possession, the prosecutor has to show four things:

  1. You knowingly, or intentionally
  2. Possessed…
  3. A substance that you knew, or believed to be, a Scheduled drug…
  4. And which was, in fact, a Scheduled drug.
  5. That the substance was a certain type of drug,
  6. That the substance was of a certain weight or amount, or
  7. That you have a drug conviction on your criminal record.

To get a conviction for a felony level drug possession charge, the prosecutor also has to show some of the following, as well, depending on the situation:

While some of these elements are often fairly easy for a prosecutor to show, like whether a certain drug is one of the ones listed in Maine's Schedule of controlled substances, many of the other ones can be very problematic.

Showing that you “knowingly or intentionally” had drugs in your possession can be difficult for prosecutors to show, depending on the circumstances surrounding your arrest. Accidentally picking up the wrong luggage at the airport and then discovering that it's full of illegal drugs would mean that you didn't actually knowingly possess the drugs, and definitely didn't possess them intentionally. Remember that it's the prosecutor who has the burden of proof. He or she has to rule out these possibilities, if they're reasonably feasible.

Even the act of possessing drugs can be difficult for prosecutors to show. “Possession” is a tricky thing. If, instead of mistakenly picking up the wrong luggage, you purposely pick up your friend at the airport, but he has drugs on him, and he subtly slides them under his seat while on the way home so he doesn't have to have them in his pocket on the way, who has possession of the drugs? You don't even know they're there.

It's situations like these that criminal defense attorneys know to look for. Defense attorneys like William T. Bly know the elements that the prosecutors need to prove, in order to get a conviction for drug possession. Just as importantly, they also know the best ways to prevent prosecutors from proving these elements in trial.

William T. Bly's exceptional track record is no accident. He understands exactly how to poke holes in the prosecution's case. Tap into his wealth of knowledge at defending against drug possession charges by calling his law office at (207) 571-8146.

The Law Office of William Bly

Here at The Law Office of William T. Bly, we provide professional and aggressive criminal defense representation that exceeds the expectations of our clients and secures their freedom and their future.

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