Possession of a Controlled Substance

A very common criminal case in Utah is possession of a controlled substance. The Utah Controlled Substances Act is an expansive, complex legislative document that governs the law surrounding the possession, manufacture, and sale of both legal and illegal drugs. If you’re facing a possession charge, Open Legal Services lawyers can explain the legal process to you.

Possession of a Controlled Substance

Generally, in order for you to be convicted for possession of a controlled substance, a prosecutor must prove two things. First, the prosecutor must prove you actually possessed the substance. Second, the prosecutor must prove that the substance you possessed is classified as a banned substance or you possessed or used the substance in an illegal manner.

The legal definition of possession differs in some ways from the common understanding of the word “possession.” Legally, it is important to understand that it is not required that you have individually possessed, used, or controlled the substance. All that needs to be proven is that you participated with one or more persons in the use, possession, or control of any substances with knowledge that the activity was occurring.

The Utah Controlled Substances Act

The Utah Controlled Substances Act classifies drugs into 5 groups called “schedules.” Schedule I and II are perceived as the most dangerous and with the drugs’ perceived danger decreasing through Schedules III, IV, and V. 

Common Schedule I and II drugs include heroin, cocaine, morphine, methamphetamines, LSD, and others. Possession of Schedule I and II controlled substances is a 3rd degree felony. If you are convicted of a 3rd degree felony, a judge may sentence you to up to 5 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.

Possession of controlled substances listed in Schedules III, IV, and V like codeine, hydrocodone, and small amount of marijuana under one ounce are class B misdemeanors, if this is your first offense. If you are convicted of a class B misdemeanor, a judge may sentence you to up to 6 months in jail and up to $1000 in fines. Subsequent offenses may be elevated to a class A misdemeanor. If you are convicted of a class A misdemeanor, a judge may sentence you to up to 1 year in jail and $2500 in fines.

With the potential for punishments like these, it is important that you contact a lawyer to ensure your rights are protected.