YOU'VE BEEN CHARGED WITH DRUG POSSESSION OR POSSESSION OF A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE. HERE'S WHAT TO EXPECT.
Have you been charged with Drug Possession or Possession of a Controlled Substance in Idaho? Here is what you need to know to begin to fight back against your accusers with the help of an experienced attorney at J.W. Bond Law.
Unlike many other states, drug legalization has not caught on in the conservative State of Idaho. As such, you might find yourself facing felony charges, even just for possessing small amounts of marijuana, and unfortunately, the potential penalties can be very serious if you do not have a committed Attorney fighting for you. For more information, click here.
WHAT IS A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE?
A controlled substance is any chemical substance (generally, psychoactive substances) the State of Idaho has decided it should be illegal for you to possess, sell, manufacture, or distribute. The specific substances outlawed in Idaho are broken down into six different “Schedules.”
While these schedules categorize drugs of different severities, it is important to realize that possession of any of these drugs, without a medical prescription where allowed, will subject you to severe legal penalties in Idaho. It is important to familiarize yourself with the following drug schedules to make sure you are not breaking the law.
- Schedule I
Schedule I contains drugs which have a high potential for abuse, along with having no medical use, or which are completely unsafe for medical use even with strict medical supervision. Schedule I contains things like opiates, hallucinogenic drugs, or opium derivatives.
- Schedule II
Schedule II contains a long, long, long, list of specific substances you are not allowed to possess in Idaho. Schedule II holds those drugs which do have a medical use, and which can cause severe health problems if abused. This includes opium, codeine, dihydroetorphine, hydrocodone, morphine, oxycodone, opium poppy, coca leaves, any derivative of coca leaves, and dozens more substances. For the complete list, visit the legislature's website click here.
- Schedule III
Schedule III drugs are those that are less likely to be abused than Schedule I or II drugs. They generally have accepted medical uses and can result in low to moderate dependence or high psychological dependence when used improperly and without a prescription.
- Schedule IV
Schedule IV drugs are those that are less likely to be abused Schedule III drugs. They may lead to some psychological or physical dependence, but they have an acceptable medical use, and thus have less chance of dependency than Schedule III drugs.
- Schedule V
Schedule V drugs are minimally dangerous. They present very low potential for abuse. They also have currently accepted medical uses, and might only create limited dependence. This Schedule would include normal medicines which have some amount of particular narcotic drugs.
- Schedule VI
These include drugs which are known colloquially as “poppers.”
WHAT IS POSSESSION?
These Schedules tell you what it is illegal to possess. But what, exactly, constitutes “possession” under Idaho Law?
Idaho law dictates that a person has possession of something if the person knows of its presence and has physical control of it or has the power and intention to control it.
This means that you may be convicted of possession of a controlled substance if you have either actual, constructive, or joint possession.
- Actual possession is when you are found with the controlled substance on you. For example, in your pocket or purse.
- Constructive possession is when the controlled substance is found in a place that you have control over, for example, your car, room, or office. Remember, it is not enough for the police to find the controlled substance in your room; they must also prove that you knew it was there.
- Joint possession is when the controlled substances are found to be controlled by more than one person. For example, when a husband and wife keep their marijuana stashed in their closet.
FELONY OR MISDEMEANOR?
Possessing a controlled substance is often a felony crime that can result in extended periods of incarceration or other negative consequences.
The unlawful possession of Schedule I narcotics or Schedule II CDS is a felony, punishable by a period of incarceration of up to seven years, a fine of up to $15,000, or both.
Any other controlled substance violation involving a nonnarcotic drug classified in Schedule I, or a controlled substance classified in Schedule III, may result in a felony conviction with a maximum prison sentence of five (5) years, a fine of up to fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000), or both.
The possession of small amounts of Schedule I drug other than narcotics and LSD, or Schedules III, IV, V, or VI CDS, is a misdemeanor punishable by a period of incarceration of up to one year, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
If you are unsure of whether you have been charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, and to find out what penalties you might be facing, you may schedule a free consultation with JW Bond to get the information you need as soon as possible.
HOW CAN WE DEFEND YOU?
If you have been accused of possession of a controlled substance, do not panic. This does not necessarily mean that the prosecutors will be able to convict you. Here are some common defense strategies the attorneys at J.W. Bond Law may be able to implement in your defense, depending on the facts:
- You Did Not Actually Possess the Controlled Substance.
It is the State's burden to prove possession beyond a reasonable doubt. There are often ways to raise doubt about possession. In many cases, drugs might be found in a room surrounded by several people, or in a vehicle with several individuals present. It we can cast reasonable doubt as to whether you (or someone else) possessed the drugs, you could be found not guilty.
- You Possessed a Substance, but Not One Covered by Schedules I through VI.
If the State mistakenly accuses you of possessing a controlled substance, you are not guilty of the charged crime. One (potentially very rare) way this can happen is if the State mistakenly concludes a substance you possessed was listed on Schedule I through Schedule VI, when the substance was not actually listed therein. This might be because the chemical testing done by the State was wrong, or because it wrongly believes the substance is listed on Schedule I through VI.
While the substance will almost always turn out to match what the State says it was, your best chance of winning your case is to have an attorney that will investigate each and every possibility – no matter how remote. If J.W. Bond Law can prove the State has made this type of mistake, your entire case could be dropped.
- You Did Not Know You Possessed the Substance.
Possession of a controlled substance is a general intent crime requiring that the defendant knowingly possess the substance. The purpose of the intent element in the definition of a possession offense is to separate innocent, accidental, or inadvertent conduct from criminal behavior. In order to secure a conviction for possession the state must prove that the defendant knowingly possessed the controlled substance.
There are two possible defenses when it comes to the “knowledge” defense. One, is that perhaps you had drugs in your bag, but you had no idea how they got there. Maybe a friend stashed them in your bag without your knowledge. If so, you can be found not guilty.
A second defense would be you knew you possessed some substance, but did not know it was a controlled substance. This would apply to a situation where a friend asked you to hold something you were told was a legal substance, which unbeknownst to you was actually a controlled substance. For example, someone gives you a can of tobacco to carry, but unbeknownst to you, the tobacco is actually not tobacco at all, but some other controlled substance. If this happened to you, having the right defense attorney could help you be found not guilty.
- Law Enforcement Violated Your Rights.
Even if the State can prove you knowingly possessed a controlled substance, they might be unable to convict you if the evidence against you was obtained by law enforcement in violation of your Constitutional rights.