Questions about Drug Offenses
DUI & Drug Defense in Denver and Boulder, Colorado
What constitutes “possession” of a drug?
Possession is one of the lowest categories of drug crime. You can be found guilty of drug possession if a controlled substance was found on your person or in property of which you had exclusive possession, such as your house, or a vehicle in which you were the sole occupant. The quantity of drug must be more than a trace amount, and if it is less than a “usable amount” additional evidence may be necessary to establish a charge of possession.
When can police search me or my property?
Police can perform a cursory search of your person if they have a reasonable suspicion that you are engaged in a criminal activity. They can also search you when bringing you into custody if they have reason to believe you are armed, and when you are booked.
Vehicle searches have a number of special rules. Police may search your car only if you consent to a search, have “probable cause” to believe you are engaged in criminal activity, or have a warrant to search the vehicle. And anything in “plain view” is admissible, but can often be contested.
Your garbage can be freely searched. However, police may search your property only when they have a warrant, get your consent to a search, have probable cause to believe you are engaged in a criminal activity, or are responding to an emergency situation–such as when they believe imminent harm will come to someone if they do not enter your property–and then see drugs or other illegal items in “plain view.”
For more detailed information, please see our illegal search and seizure page.
To protect your right to be free from illegal searches, always state politely that you do not consent to a search of your person, vehicle, or property. If police conduct an illegal search, experienced, aggressive criminal defense attorney Nicolas M. Geman may be able to get any evidence they find thrown out and your drug charges dismissed.
When can I be charged with “possession with intent to distribute”?
There are a number of things that can increase your charge from a simple possession charge to a charge of “possession with intent to distribute,” which can increase the penalties for your drug charge. The most common is the quantity of drugs possessed. In general, possession of more than four grams of a schedule I or II controlled substance is sufficient to trigger a charge of possession with intent to distribute. You may also be charged with possession with intent to distribute if the drugs are divided into a number of small units. Other factors that can be used to trigger a charge of possession with intent to distribute are items associated with distribution, such as baggies, aluminum foil, and other containers used to divide drugs into sellable units; large amounts of cash, and scales.
If a friend has a prescription for painkillers and gives me one for a headache, can we be charged with a drug crime?
In most cases, yes. Prescription painkillers are generally considered controlled substances. If someone other than a doctor or pharmacist gives you one, they can be charged with drug distribution. If you are found with the painkiller but have no prescription, you can face a charge of drug possession.
Can I be charged with drug possession for my medical marijuana?
Medical marijuana is a constitutional right in Colorado, so you cannot be charged under state law for possession of up to two ounces of marijuana if you have a valid prescription. Make sure you always have your registry card in your possession whenever you have marijuana in your possession. If your clothes or car smell from smoking, you should also be prepared to produce a prescription card.
How can a defense lawyer protect me from a drug charge?
An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help your drug case in many ways. See our page on why you need a Denver drug offense lawyer for general information. In drug cases, your Denver drug offense lawyer can get evidence obtained illegally thrown out. Your lawyer can fight drug charges on the basis of a lack of evidence or evidence analyzed poorly due to poor test conditions or a lack of expertise. Failing all else, your lawyer can put your case in the best possible light so that even if you are found guilty you may receive a lower sentence.