Drug possession is a crime under the laws of Washington State as well as the federal criminal laws of the United States. Federal laws treat the possession of a controlled substance as a serious criminal offense, with potential penalties including a year-long federal prison sentence. Please contact a criminal defense attorney now if you are facing criminal charges involving drugs.

What is Drug Possession Under Federal Law

21 USC 844 is the federal statute on simple drug possession. Under this law, you commit a federal crime if you:

  1. Knowingly and intentionally possess a controlled substance, and
  2. Do so without a valid prescription.

A “controlled substance” is a drug whose manufacture, possession, or use is regulated under the Controlled Substance Act (CSA). Examples include:

  • Cocaine,
  • Methamphetamine
  • Ecstasy,
  • Heroin, and
  • LSD.

Note that you can face possession charges under federal law (as opposed to state law) if you:

  • Possess drugs while on national land (for example, a military base or national park),
  • Are investigated and arrested by a federal agency, or
  • Possess drugs while crossing state lines.

What are the penalties?

People convicted on federal charges of drug possession can face penalties of:

  • Up to one year in federal prison, and/or
  • A mandatory fine of no less than $1,000.

In comparison, a simple drug possession conviction under Washington law is punishable by:

  • Custody in jail for up to 90 days, and/or
  • A fine.

Can a Defendant Raise a Legal Defense?

Yes. People charged with drug possession under federal law can contest the charge with a legal defense. Recall that you are typically only guilty of possession if you have a drug without a lawful prescription. A common defense, then, is for you to show that a medical professional legally prescribed you a drug.

A second common defense is for you to show that a police officer discovered a drug after an unlawful search and seizure. If this is the case, you can often move for the judge to:

  • Reduce your crime to a lesser offense, or
  • Drop it altogether.

Contact Black & Askerov for Help

While a defendant can raise a legal defense to challenge a drug charge, it will take a skilled criminal defense attorney to raise the best defense. The experienced federal crime attorneys at Black & Askerov have over 30 years of combined experience defending clients on various drug offenses. Our Seattle criminal defense lawyers also have the skill and commitment that makes all the difference in these cases. Our attorneys will fight tooth and nail for you at every step of your case. Contact us now to get the legal help you deserve!