Possession of a Controlled Substance: What It Means in Indiana

Drug possession charges are serious drug crimes. Convictions for possession of a controlled substance in Indiana can include lengthy prison sentences and hefty fines.

If you are accused of possession of a controlled substance in Indianapolis, Contact our law firm Suhre & Associates DUI and Criminal Defense Lawyers for immediate legal assistance at (317) 759-2599

Possession of a Controlled Substance in Any Amount is Serious

Never assume that a judge will go lightly on you if you have a small amount of a controlled substance in your possession. 

Possession of a controlled substance can also lead to other drug crimes. 

Police officers could also charge you with:

  • Possession with intent to distribute drugs
  • Drug manufacturing
  • Drug delivery
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia

The more criminal charges you face, the more jail time and fines the judge could impose. Multiple drug offenses related to possession of drugs are common. Seek legal advice before attempting to reach a plea deal and taking your chances with a judge.

What Are Controlled Substances?

Indiana uses schedules to classify controlled substances. Controlled substances are drugs that the government classifies as having potential for abuse. 

The Indiana General Assembly organized controlled substances into the following categories:

  • Schedule I – Drugs that have a very high potential of being abused and have no known medical uses, such as LSD, peyote, heroin, and ecstasy. Marijuana is included in this schedule.
  • Schedule II – The drugs in this schedule also have a high risk of being abused, but there are medical uses for these drugs in restricted situations. Drugs in this Schedule II include Ritalin, methadone, Vicodin, OxyContin, cocaine, and Demerol.
  • Schedule III – Drugs in Schedule III have less of a risk of being abused and have accepted medical uses. Drugs in this schedule include testosterone, anabolic, and Tylenol with codeine.
  • Schedule IV – The drugs in this schedule have a low risk of being abused but are still considered controlled substances. Drugs in Schedule IV include Valium, Xanax, Ambien, and Darvon.
  • Schedule V – The controlled substances in Schedule V have a low risk for abuse and are routinely prescribed for medical conditions. These drugs include Lomotil, Lyrica, and cough syrups with less than 200 mg of codeine.

As you can see, controlled substances include drugs that can be purchased on the street and drugs that doctors prescribe. You must have a valid prescription to possess pharmaceutical drugs legally. The drugs must be dispensed by a pharmacy licensed to provide controlled substances. 

What is the Difference Between Possession and Possession With Intent to Distribute?

A charge of possession of a controlled substance is associated with personal use. The state is not accusing you of trying to sell or distribute the drugs to other individuals. 

According to IC §35-48-4-7, you are in illegal possession of a controlled substance and commit a Class A misdemeanor if:

  • You do not have a valid prescription or an order of a practitioner; AND
  • You knowingly or intentionally are in possession of a Schedule I, II, III, or IV substance — except for Hashish, marijuana, synthetic cannabinoid, or salvia.

The statute makes it a crime to have more than four ounces of a Schedule V substance containing codeine in any 48 hour period. The only exception is you have a valid prescription or sign an exempt narcotic register maintained by a pharmacy licensed in Indiana. Therefore, you must be careful. A person who intentionally obtains or intentionally possesses this type of drug must abide by the law to avoid a possession charge.

Simple possession charges generally have lighter penalties. However, you should still consider possession as a serious drug offense. 

Possession With Intent to Distribute means that the state suspects that you intend to distribute, sell, or otherwise deliver a controlled substance. 

Generally, the police officers will charge someone with the intent to distribute if the amount of the controlled substance is large enough to indicate that it is not for personal use. Other evidence they may use for this charge is drugs separated into bags or other containers, the presence of a scale to measure the drugs, and large amounts of cash.

Actual Possession of Drugs vs. Constructive Possession of Drugs

There are two criminal offenses the police can use to charge someone with possession of a controlled substance. 

Actual possession means that the police officers found the drugs on your person. For example, the drugs were found in your pocket or your wallet. In other words, you were in direct physical possession and control of the drugs.

Constructive possession means that you had knowledge of the drugs, but the drugs were not on your person. You had the intent and ability to control the drugs, even though you were not in physical possession at the time of the arrest. For example, the drugs were found in the glove compartment of your vehicle or the trunk.

The police officers might also charge you with constructive possession if the drugs were in your home. Therefore, you do not need to be in actual possession of a controlled substance to face possession charges.

Drug Possession Penalties 

Possession of a controlled substance can be charged as a misdemeanor offense or a felony offense. 

The factors that determine the level of the crime include:

  • The type of controlled substance in your possession
  • The quantity of the controlled substance you possess 
  • The location of the crime (some locations such as schools enhance the level of the crime)
  • Whether you were in possession of a handgun or other weapon 
  • Your past criminal history

Schedule I controlled substances carry the harshest penalties. Schedule V controlled substances carry the lowest penalties. 

Possession of Schedule I and II drugs can lead to a Level 6 felony charge. Aggravating circumstances can lead to a more serious felony charge. Schedule III, IV, & V drugs could result in a misdemeanor charge, but the charge might bump up to a felony under certain circumstances. 

Marijuana possession can lead to a Class B misdemeanor charge if you have 30 grams or less in your possession and no prior drug arrests. The charge bumps up to a Class A misdemeanor if you have a previous drug conviction. Having more than 30 grams of marijuana in your possession results in a Level 6 felony.

In addition to a prison sentence and fine, you could also lose your driver’s license temporarily or permanently. Your criminal conviction may make it tougher to find a job or rent a home. If you have a professional license, your professional license could be suspended or revoked.

Contact Our Indianapolis Drug Possession Attorneys for a Free Consultation 

Charges for possession of a controlled substance can be confusing. The level of the crime varies depending on many factors. You could be charged with a crime you did not commit.

Contact our Indianapolis drug possession lawyers for a free consultation. Let us help you protect your freedom and your future by aggressively fighting drug possession charges in Indiana.