When charged with a drug-related crime, the potential consequences to your personal and professional life, in the event of a conviction, can be quite severe. One of the most common drug offenses seen in Minnesota and elsewhere is drug possession. This column will address drug possession laws, related crimes, what prosecuting attorneys need to prove possession and what you can do if you are facing a possessions charge — either state or federal.
What is drug possession?
If you are facing a drug possession charge, it means that a law enforcement officer allegedly found you with some sort of illegal substance on your person, in your home or in your vehicle. The drugs that are often involved in possession cases are marijuana, cocaine and heroin. When it comes to possession laws, they can be quite confusing, as the drug type and amount both determine what charges are filed and at what level — state or federal.
There are two main categories when it comes to drug possession laws. These categories are:
- Simple possession: This means that the accused individual is carrying a small amount of drugs for personal use. States typically handle this type of charge.
- Possession with intent to distribute: This means that the accused allegedly had significant amounts of drugs in his or her possession with the purpose of selling. This type of charge can garner federal charges.
Drug paraphernalia charges often accompany possession charges
It is not uncommon for drug paraphernalia charges to accompany possession charges. Drug paraphernalia is usually equipment that takes, makes, packages or manufactures drugs. Such equipment often includes:
- Rolling papers
When it comes to whether state or federal charges will be filed for paraphernalia, it all depends on the type of equipment found and its intended purpose.
Proving possession charges
As with all criminal cases, the burden of proof lies with the prosecuting attorneys. In possession cases, it is up to them to prove that the accused was, in fact, carrying an illegal substance and that he or she knew it was an illegal substance.
What can I do if I’m facing a drug possession charge?
If you are facing a possessions charge — either state or federal — you have the right to defend yourself in criminal court. You also have the right to secure an experienced criminal defense attorney to assist you with your case. At the end of the day, fighting drug possession and any related charges is not a simple task. However, a defense attorney with an understanding of both state and federal drug crime laws can help you figure out the best way to handle your case.