Washington DC Drug Possession Attorney

Across the nation, prosecutors and drug enforcement agents have worked to take a hard line against drugs. From the “Just Say No” slogan of the 1980’s to law enforcement education programs such as DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), many people look to awareness to solve drug problems.

Unfortunately, others are simply interested in punitive measures, with punishments that are much more severe than the crime. For this reason, it is imperative that those who find themselves facing charges seek legal representation from an experienced Washington DC drug possession attorney. A skilled local lawyer will be well equipped to guide and advise you through the often complex and overwhelming process.

A good Washington DC drug possession attorney will have a number of strategies to defend against charges, including arguing for the suppression of illegally obtained evidence and the possible negotiation of deferred sentencing for first offenders.

Burden of Proof for the Prosecution

Controlled substances refer to any type of illicit narcotic or illegally obtained prescription drug. In order to prove guilt in a drug possession case, prosecutors must establish that the defendant knowingly possessed a controlled substance. That means that they must provide evidence that:

  • The substance in question was, in fact, a controlled substance
  • The defendant was in possession of the substance
  • The defendant knew that they were in possession of an illegal or illegally obtained drug

Actual versus Constructive Possession

Possession can be actual or constructive. The former means the substance was actually on their person, such in a pants pocket or shoe. The latter means the product was in a place over which the defendant had control or dominion, such as their bedroom closet. In other words, a person may be charged with possession regardless of whether the drugs were with them or not, as long as the drugs were in a place over which the defendant had dominion or control.

Drug Paraphernalia

Any object can be considered drug paraphernalia if it is used for injecting, inhaling, or ingesting any controlled substance into the body of the user. Possession of drug paraphernalia in DC is punishable by 30 days in jail, a $250 fine, or both.

In order to determine whether an item is, in fact, paraphernalia, a police officer takes into account where it is located in relation to the drugs and if there are actually remains of the drug on the object.

Marijuana Drug Paraphernalia

Since legal possession of marijuana is limited to two ounces or less for anyone over the age of 21, it is also now legal for a person over 21 to possess paraphernalia. However, this is only the case if it is intended to be used for 2 ounces or less of marijuana. It is important to note that the paraphernalia allowed can only be used for marijuana.

If the paraphernalia is intended to be used for other drugs, such as cocaine or heroin, it is still illegal. For example, an individual would have a strong argument that cigarette rolling papers were intended to be used for smoking marijuana, but they would have a very weak argument if they were in possession of a syringe and tried to argue it was for marijuana use.

Limits to Marijuana Legalization

The first and most important thing to know about drug possession is that there are many exceptions and rules when it comes to marijuana possession in DC that make the charge different from marijuana possession in Colorado or Washington State, for example. Some states have completely legalized sales and possession and treat marijuana like tobacco.

Washington DC has a different way of legalizing personal possession of marijuana. Although personal possession of up to two ounces of marijuana is now legal, it is still illegal to sell marijuana. It is also illegal to consume marijuana in public.

There are many detailed exceptions to DC marijuana possession, so when a person is not sure whether a certain action is illegal or legal, the best thing to do is to consult with a Washington DC drug possession attorney.

How a DC Drug Possession Lawyer Can Serve As an Advocate

Washington DC drug possession attorneys are aware of different options that may be available for people who have addiction problems. A lawyer can advocate on behalf of the defendant and negotiate with prosecutors to have their case resolved through treatment programs. That could result in a case being dismissed rather than ending in a criminal record and possible jail time. It is important to discuss with a lawyer who is familiar with local law because it differs from state to state.