Updated on October 25th, 2017 at 06:37 pm
It is very important to contact a D.C. drug possession attorney if you have been arrested for possession of a controlled substance in the District of Columbia. Criminal lawyers in dc will be able to assert defenses and ensure the best outcome in your case. The law firm of Bruckheim & Patel has a drug attorney with significant experience handling D.C. drug cases.
An experienced attorney will be able to evaluate the facts of your drug case and determine the strongest legal arguments to defend your case before a judge or a jury in a court of law.
Defenses that can be asserted in drug possession cases include improper search by the police, defects in the evidence, lack of possession, and lack of probable cause. It takes an experienced D.C. drug possession lawyer to determine exactly which defense will make your case the strongest.
A strong defense is important because a conviction for drug possession can have serious consequences both inside and outside of the criminal justice system. You should rely on the experienced D.C. possession attorneys at Bruckheim & Patel to ensure that you receive the most zealous advocacy.
DC Drug Possession Elements
In order to be convicted of drug possession, the government is required to prove that the person (1) knowingly or intentionally; (2) possessed; (3) drugs (controlled substance). Controlled Substances Act D.C. Code § 48-904.01.
First, in order for the possession to be “knowing or intentional,” the person has to actually know that the drugs were in his or her presence or possession. This requirement is satisfied if the person knew that the substance was present and that the substance was an illegal drug. If the person was not actually aware of the drugs or aware that the substance was an illegal drug, the necessary element of knowledge does not exist. Generally, simply being close to the drugs is not enough evidence by itself for the government to prove that the person knew about the drugs.
Second, the person has to actually possess illegal drugs without a prescription. In order to prove that the person possessed the drugs, the government has to show that the person had ownership or control of the drugs. This requires the government to present evidence of some action, word, or conduct that connects the person to the drugs. A person is not in “possession” of a drug if he or she is merely a bystander with no connection to the drugs. On the other hand, the individual did possess the drugs if the drugs are on his or her person or if he or she has the right to use the drugs. Multiple people may possess the same drugs.
Finally, the drug in question has to actually be a controlled substance. In D.C. it is illegal to possess both the controlled substance and the compounds that make up the controlled substance. The government must show that there is a “measurable amount” of the drug, which is evaluated by a DEA drug chemist. A trace amount of the drug is not enough to support a conviction.
DC Drug Possession Penalties
Most drug possession charges in D.C. are misdemeanors. Possession of drugs such as cocaine, heroine, amphetamines, medical drugs without a prescription, and methamphetamine can all be charged as misdemeanors.
In general, a misdemeanor drug possession conviction for a first-time offender carries a sentence of 180 days and/or a fine up to $1,000. D.C. Code § 48-904.01(d). However, the D.C. Criminal Code does have an option for first-time offenders to have their case dismissed upon successful completion of a one-year probation. This option is called probation before judge. It is entirely within the Judge’s discretion to offer this option for first-time offenders for drug possession cases. If the person successfully completes all of the requirements of probation for a one-year period, the court can dismiss the case. However, if person does not successfully complete the probationary period, the court can find the person guilty without any further proceedings. D.C. Code § 48-904.01(e)(1).
A second or subsequent drug possession conviction can carry a double penalty of 360 days and/or a fine up to $2,000. D.C. Code § 48-904.08.
The most common felony drug possession charge is the possession of liquid PCP (phencyclidine). The possession of liquid PCP is a felony because the D.C. government believes PCP to be one of the most dangerous drugs and therefore takes possession of it very seriously. A conviction for any drug crime let alone a felony drug possession can be up to three years and/or a fine of up to $3,000.
If you have received a drug charge with drug possession in the District of Columbia, contact an experienced DC drug crime lawyer at Bruckheim & Patel. Call our DC possession attorneys for a free initial consultation today at (202) 930-3464 so that they can fight your misdemeanor or felony drug possession charge.