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What is Possession of a Controlled Substance?

Throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, individuals are arrested every day for drug possession. While this is one of the most common criminal offenses an individual can be arrested for. Many individuals are unaware of what "possession" can actually means in order to get arrested for it.





What does the law say?


In Pennsylvania, the law states that:


(1) The manufacture, sale or delivery, holding, offering for sale, or possession of any controlled substance, other drug, device or cosmetic that is adulterated or misbranded.
(2) The adulteration or misbranding of any controlled substance, other drug, device or cosmetic.
(3) The dissemination or publication of any false or materially misleading advertisement.
(4) The removal or disposal of a detained or embargoed substance or article, whether or not such substance or article is in fact adulterated or misbranded.
(5) The adulteration, mutilation, destruction, obliteration or removal of the whole or any part of the labeling of, or the doing of any other act with respect to a controlled substance, other drug, device or cosmetic, if such act is done while such substance or article is held for sale and results in such substance or article being adulterated or misbranded.
(6) Forging, counterfeiting, simulating or falsely representing, or without proper authority using any mark, stamp, tag, label or other identification symbol authorized or required by regulation promulgated under the provisions of this act.
(7) Placing or causing to be placed upon any controlled substance, other drug, device or cosmetic, or upon the container of any controlled substance, other drug, device or cosmetic, with intent to defraud, the trademark, trade name or other identifying mark, imprint or symbol of another, or any likeness of any of the foregoing.
(8) Selling, dispensing, disposing of or causing to be sold, dispensed or disposed of, or keeping in possession, control or custody, or concealing any controlled substance, other drug, device or cosmetic or any container of any drug, device or cosmetic with knowledge that the trademark, trade name or other identifying mark, imprint or symbol of another, or any likeness of any of the foregoing, has been placed thereon in a manner prohibited by clause (7) hereof.
(9) Making, selling, disposing of or causing to be made, sold, or disposed of, or keeping in possession, control or custody, or concealing with intent to defraud, any punch, die, plate, stone or other thing designed to print, imprint or reproduce the trademark, trade name or other identifying mark, imprint or symbol of another or any likeness of any of the foregoing upon any controlled substance, other drug, device or cosmetic or container thereof.
(10) The sale at retail of a nonproprietary drug except by a registered pharmacist in a licensed pharmacy or by a practitioner.
(11) The operation of a drug manufacturing, distributing or retailing establishment, except by registered pharmacists in a licensed pharmacy, without conforming with such standards respecting sanitation, materials, equipment and supplies as the secretary, after consultation with the board, may establish by regulation for the protection of the public health and safety.

What Does Possession Actually Mean?


Actual possession- having the substance in their physical possession or control. An example of actual drug possession would be having the substance in one’s pocket or directly in hand. This type of possession generally occurs when the illegal substance is found on the person (pockets, wallet, cigarette pack, etc.)


Constructive possession- the person has the power to knowingly possess the illegal substance and control its movement a classic example of this is when an individual is driving a motor vehicle and there are drugs found in the car. While the drugs may not be on the person, the individual can still be charged with possession of a controlled substance because they were driving the car that had the drugs in it.


What are the penalties for possession drugs?


First Offense of Drug Possession: Misdemeanor, up to one year in jail, and a maximum fine of $5000.

Subsequent Offense: Misdemeanor, up to three years in jail, and a maximum fine of $25,000.

Possession of a Small Amount of Marijuana: Misdemeanor, up to 30 days in jail and a maximum fine of $500.

Possession of More than 30 Grams of Marijuana

First Offense- Misdemeanor, up to 1 year in jail and a maximum fine of $5,000 fine

Subsequent Offense: Misdemeanor, up to 3 years in jail and a maximum fine of $25,000 fine


Possession of Drug Paraphernalia: Misdemeanor, up to one year in jail, and maximum fine of $2,500.


I got arrested for Possession of a Controlled Substance, who can I call?


At The Town Law, we understand just how stressful facing criminal charges can be. With our vast experience handling criminal cases throughout Bucks County, Delaware County, Chester County, Montgomery County, and Philadelphia County in Pennsylvania, we are well-equipped to ensure you get the best result possible with attentive attorneys by your side throughout the process. Contact our firm today for a free consultation. Our staff of experienced attorneys is dedicated to the best outcomes for all of our clients.


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