Being in possession of cocaine is a serious offense. Drug possession is both a Federal and State-level crime and in both cases the steps you take during and soon after your arrest can make a big difference in the level of penalties you may face.
If you are found in possession of cocaine you need to engage the assistance of a lawyer as soon as possible. We’ll work hard to get you the substance treatment you need as opposed to jail time for drug possession.
As defense attorneys, we understand that for many drug addiction is a difficult, costly, and problematic disorder to live with. Substance abuse isn’t a moral failure, and our mission as your lawyers is to provide the support and compassion you need at a difficult time.
Here’s what to expect if you or a loved one is arrested for cocaine possession…
What is Possession?
The Controlled Substances Act sets out in Title 21 U.S. Code § 844 that the act of “simple possession” of a “controlled substance” is a crime under Federal law, and is subject to penalties. The law currently states that:
“It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally to possess a controlled substance unless such substance was obtained directly, or pursuant to a valid prescription or order, from a practitioner, while acting in the course of his professional practice, or except as otherwise authorized”
Controlled substances are set out under five Schedules, from Schedule I to Schedule V. Cocaine is a Schedule II drug, covered under Title 21 U.S. Code § 812. Schedule II drugs are those that have a high potential for abuse, do have currently accepted medical uses, but may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence if abused.
Legally Possession Means
“Possession” means that you knowingly have the cocaine on your person or under your control in some way, (such as inside your pocket or backpack). “Constructive possession” means that you are deemed to be possessing the item. Some examples where you might be held to be “possessing” could include:
- a suitcase with your name on it is found full of cocaine,
- or the cocaine is found in a house owned by you,
- or in a hotel room rented by you.
It’s also possible that you can “jointly possess” cocaine with another person. If you have a passenger in your car and they are found with cocaine in their bag (and it can be proven you knew it was there).
Use your right to remain silent and only speak with your attorney. You will have one phone call after your arrest and should use it to contact a family member or friend who can reach out on your behalf to an experienced attorney.
Cocaine Possession Penalties
If you have no prior convictions, possession of cocaine can include penalties of imprisonment up to 1 year, and fines of a minimum of $1000.
If you have had previous convictions, or if you also had a weapon on your person at the time of arrest, you may also face higher penalties. If you have had previous convictions you could be imprisoned for up to three years in prison.
You can also be sentenced with higher penalties if you were near a school, or in the presence of a minor.
If you have been arrested for cocaine possession you can start building a defense strategy with a lawyer soon after, should your case go to trial.
- One of the most important ways that you can defend yourself is by arguing that you had no knowledge or intention to possess. This could apply if, for example, you were caught with cocaine in a rental car, a friend’s bag, or something similar.
- It is important that the prosecution proves that the drug you were carrying is cocaine. If you were carrying a drug or substance that looks like cocaine, you can argue that you were not in possession of cocaine to try to reduce potential charges.
- Another potential option is that you can show that you were only in possession of cocaine because you have a medical use for it. This would only apply in very rare cases, as cocaine is not used commonly for medical purposes.
- You can also argue that your constitutional rights were violated, such as through a search of your vehicle or your person “without cause”. If you can show that you did nothing wrong that caused the police to search you, you may be able to have police evidence discarded by the court.
Being arrested for cocaine possession can be intimidating and difficult, at our Tampa criminal defense firm we see you as a person not a criminal and will do our best to get you the substance abuse support you need.
To build defense strategies for your unique case, and give you the best chance of defending your case, you need to choose a skilled defense lawyer with expertise in drug charges.
Charged with Cocaine Possession? Call Stechschulte Nell For Help
If you have been arrested or charged with possession of cocaine, the attorneys of Stechschulte Nell can advise you. Call our top-rated Tampa, FL law firm at (813) 280-1244 to speak to an experienced defense attorney. We’re available 24/7 to take your call.