Cocaine possession charges and their consequences vary widely. While everyone understands the concept of "possession," when it comes to legal terms, it can take on different meanings. Let's explore them and unpack your defense options, if you stand accused of this crime.
What Are the Different Types of Cocaine Possession Charges?
Cocaine is a schedule II drug, which is less serious than heroin but still punishable by extended jail time and heavy fines. Possession charges themselves are also broken up into varying degrees of severity:
- Simple possession means you knowingly had the drug on your person or in your control. The key here is that you knowingly had the drug in your control. Simple possession of a schedule I or II drug, like cocaine, is a felony, and it can land you up to five years in prison and $5,000 in fines.
- Constructive possession means you had "control" over the drug, even if it was not physically on or near you. For example, if police find cocaine in your car or other property you own, they may consider it constructive possession.
- Possession with intent means you meant to sell or distribute the drug. This can be punishable by up to life in prison. This charge can occur even if you were not actually intending to sell the drug. It depends on how much of the substance officials found or if there was other paraphernalia, like scales or bags, with it.
What Defenses Are There for Cocaine Possession?
Work with an experienced attorney who will defend your rights and negotiate reduced or dropped charges. Common defenses for cocaine possession include:
- It was a small amount and this is your first offense. You might get a deferred sentence, which will significantly reduce the penalties and defer your jail time to probation or a substance abuse program.
- The officer who stopped you lacked probable cause, meaning he or she had no reason for pulling you over or stopping you in the street.
- The search itself lacked probable cause or was illegal, meaning the officer had no reason to initiate a search or did not have a warrant where one was required. If the officer asked to search and you told him or her "no," which is your constitutional right, the search is illegal.
- You did not know the substance was a drug or did not know it was in your possession. For example, you borrowed a friend's car, and there was a small amount of cocaine in the glove compartment you did not know existed.
There are other possible defenses, but your attorney's strategy will depend on the specifics of your case. Contact J. Patrick Quillian, an experienced cocaine possession defense attorney, to begin building a defense and protect your rights and your freedom.