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What does possession of a controlled substance mean?

Federal law generally defines a controlled substance as a chemical or drug that is subject to legislative control. This may include both illegal drugs and prescription drugs. Possession of a controlled substance basically means that a person has the ability as well as the intention to access or control a drug in his or her presence.

There are two different ways that you can generally be charged with possession of a controlled substance. The first is through “actual” possession, which is when a person is carrying the controlled substance on his or her person. The second way is called “constructive” possession. This generally occurs when a person does not have the drug on him or her physically, but it is instead found on or in a person’s property. As an example, you could have the controlled substance in your house or car.

Interestingly, in the case of constructive possession, you must have knowledge that the substance is present on or around a property and also have an ability to access or control it before you can be charged with the crime of possession. However, it should also be noted that it is possible for more than one person to be charged with constructive possession even though it is for the same controlled substance that is recovered.

While drug possession laws vary, the type of charges you will generally face in Wisconsin, as well as in other states, usually depends on the amount of drugs you are found with at the time of your arrest. If you are in possession of a small amount of a controlled substance, you will often be charged with simple possession, meaning you had the drugs only for your own personal use. If a large amount is found when you are arrested, however, you could face charges of possession of a controlled substance with an intent to distribute.

An experienced Wisconsin criminal attorney could potentially work with defendants who face drug possession charges and assist them in establishing a strong criminal defense.

Source: FindLaw, “Drug Possession Overview” Sep. 22, 2014

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