DC Drug Possession Charges

Dealing with DC drug possession charges does not necessarily mean that a person has a drug or other controlled substance on their person. The holding of a drug is referred to as possession, whereas another form of a possession offense is called constructive possession. Possession and constructive are treated exactly the same under DC drug possession laws. One is not considered to be a less severe type of drug offense.

If you are facing charges for either form of the unlawful holding of a substance, a DC drug possession lawyer can help you prepare your defense. A distinguished drug attorney has the local experience to help you search for beneficial evidence, experts and witnesses.

Defining Constructive Possession

Constructive possession means a person is aware of the presence and location of a controlled substance and has the ability and the intent to exercise control over that controlled substance. Dominion and control mean having the ability and the intent to determine the course of that controlled substance. An individual should contact their lawyer regarding any form of useful evidence or information they may have in reference to DC drug possession charges.

Even when the controlled substance is not in the person’s hand or in the person’s pocket, circumstantial evidence can be used by prosecutors to prove that a person was aware of the presence and location of the drug and intended to control that drug. That kind of evidence could include statements or admissions by the person, the proximity of the drug to the person, paraphernalia connected to a drug that is found on the person, and whether other individuals are present nearby who could have been in possession of that controlled substance.

Circumstantial Evidence

If a person is driving alone in a vehicle that is registered to them and an officer conducts a traffic stop and finds a baggie of heroin sitting on the passenger seat. The prosecutors can use much of that circumstantial evidence to prove that the driver was in constructive possession of the baggie of heroin.

That circumstantial evidence for DC drug possession charges includes evidence such as the proximity of the baggie to the driver, the fact that the vehicle is registered to the driver, the driver was able to see the baggie sitting on top of the passenger seat plainly, and no one else was in the vehicle that could have been in possession of that baggie.

All those factors can be used a prosecutor to prove that even though the driver did not have the baggie on their person at the time of the stop. The circumstantial evidence shows that the person had constructive possession over that baggie and therefore can be charged with possession of the drugs. Working with a drug lawyer can help combat such claims within and outside of the court.

Role of Controlled Substances

A person can be found possessing illegal drugs in the District through actual possession or constructive possession. Controlled substances include illegal drugs such as cocaine, heroin, or PCP as well as prescription drugs a person is not in lawful possession of. A person cannot legally be in possession of a painkiller such as OxyContin if they do not have a valid prescription for that drug. Completely illegal controlled substances such as heroin are not treated by the law any differently than a prescription medication that is being illegally possessed by the person. Both are treated as criminal offenses and possessing either one carries the same maximum penalty and fines even though one is considered to be a prescription medication and one is considered to be an illegal drug.

Law Enforcement Priorities

Simple DC drug possession charges are no longer considered a high priority for law enforcement or prosecutors. Although drug possession is not considered a high priority, that does not mean people are not arrested for it. It is not uncommon for people to be arrested for possessing methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, PCP, and other illegal drugs.

It is also not uncommon for people to be arrested and charged with the illegal possession of prescription drugs. Even though people are arrested and charged with these offenses, DC laws grants prosecutors a fairly wide latitude in finding alternatives to prosecution in lower level drug possession cases.

This means that prosecutors can extend diversion offers to a person through negotiations with DC drug possession lawyers that can allow them to complete community service in exchange for the dismissal of their case. Prosecutors can also permit persons to enter into a drug court program that allows them to complete regular drug testing and drug treatment in exchange for dismissal of their cases.