CONSIDER THIS: You’ve been charged with possession because the police discovered a baggie or paraphernalia in the vehicle you were riding in and you feel this is unjust because it is not yours. But everyone should take note that anyone can still be found guilty in this scenario, even if someone does not physically possess the controlled substance. This is the basic doctrine known as constructive possession. According to the current law, this implies that you had what is noted as the “power and intent to exercise dominion and control” over the controlled substance. The exact specification of what that means, and how it will impact you, is effectively up to the judge or jury to decide, so this is an area that should be of concern to everyone.
However, this Utah law is typically favorable to defendants as compared to how other states deal with the situation, thus when there is a question as to who was the actual possessor of the contraband, a viable defense could be possible. This is an area where it would certainly be advisable, again, to seek assistance from a qualified and experienced attorney who understands the drug laws and is committed to clients fully.
Current Utah Drug Possession Penalties
The section immediately below will be primarily focused on drug possession for personal use, also known as ‘simple’ possession. Matters regarding possession with intent to distribute will be addressed in the next section.
Simple possession, as it is known, is prosecuted under Utah Code § 58-37-8(2)(a)(i), which classifies it as a crime “for any person knowingly and intentionally to possess or use a… controlled substance,” except in cases which the person holds a legal prescription from an actual licensed physician.
This offense is classified as follows:
Third Degree Felony
If the substance was a Schedule I drug or Schedule II drug, and if it is the defendant’s third, or subsequent conviction.
Class A Misdemeanor
If the substance was a Schedule I drug or Schedule II drug, and if it is the defendant’s first, or second conviction.
Class B Misdemeanor
In other situations (for example… the substance was a Schedule IV drug).
Fortunately for offenders, there is no current mandatory sentence for simple possession in the state of Utah. But a judge may hand down a sentence that could range from up to six months in jail (the maximum for Class B misdemeanors) to 15 years in prison (the maximum for second-degree felonies).
The Penalty For Possession with Intent to Distribute
Possession with intent to distribute (PWID) is a considerably more severe charge than simple possession, and as such the punishment can be quite heavy if a defendant pleads guilty, or is found guilty by the court. If the defendant was involved in gang activity or organized crime the court could hand down an even harsher sentence.
Possession with intent to distribute is considered to be a Class A misdemeanor if the substance is classified as a Schedule V drug.
For more information on Constructive Possession Of Drugs In Utah, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (801) 455-1743 today.