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Drug Possession Charges in Washington State

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Possession of illegal drugs can lead to serious consequences in Washington State. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the alleged offense, you can face prison time, fines, and other penalties. If the crime involves large amounts of drugs, certain types of substances, and other aggravating factors, such as possession with intent to distribute, the consequences will be more severe.

Types of Drug Possession Crimes in Washington

The Violation of the Uniform Controlled Substance Act (VUCSA) outlines the definitions, penalties, and statutory rules for drug crimes in Washington State. The term controlled substance can refer to all illegal drugs, including methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine, as well as marijuana. Although recreational marijuana is legal in Washington, possessing more than one ounce of cannabis as a legal adult will result in a misdemeanor charge.

In Washington, it is unlawful to willfully possess an illegal drug. This crime only occurs when you are knowingly in possession of the substance and knew or reasonably should have known was illegal. Drug possession can include actual possession, or having the drugs on your person, as well as constructive possession. Constructive possession applies if you have control over or access to drugs, even if you do not have them on your person.

Drug possession with intent to distribute is a far more serious offense than possession for personal use. There are two elements that comprise a possession with intent to distribute charge.

  • You had actual or constructive possession of the substance and you knew the drugs were present in your possession. If you did not know the drugs were present at the time of the discovery, you may have a strong defense against these allegations.
  • You were possessing the drugs with the intent to sell or distribute them. The state will need to gather sufficient evidence to prove what your intended use for the substance was prior to arrest. For example, if the police believe you had a very large amount of the drug that would be unusual for one person to hold, the prosecution may use this as evidence of intent to distribute.

What Are the Penalties for Drug Possession?

Under Washington law, penalties for drug possession depend on the type of drug involved, the amount of the drug, and the intention behind the possession. If you are facing these drug charges, a conviction may result in the following consequences.

  • Possession of a controlled substance other than marijuana is a Class C felony. This crime is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and up to five years in jail.
  • If the court believes you intended to distribute an amphetamine, methamphetamine, or narcotic, such as heroin or cocaine, you could face Class B felony charges. This may result in up to 10 years in prison and fines up to $25,000.
  • If the court believes you intended to distribute amphetamine or methamphetamine, the fine will increase to $100,000 if you allegedly possessed more than two kilograms’ worth of the drug.

A drug possession conviction can impact your life in several ways, from your ability to find employment to your housing status. It is important to defend yourself against these charges by hiring a criminal defense attorney to represent your side of the story. As soon as possible after your arrest, contact a criminal defense lawyer to discuss your legal options.

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