A criminal law DC defense lawyer/ DC drug lawyer specializing in drug related offenses could significantly reduce both the statutory jail time and the related stiff fines.
In Washington DC, it is illegal and chargeable for any person to knowingly or intentionally:
- Distribute, or possess;
- With intent to manufacture or distribute, a controlled substance.
SIMPLE POSSESSION v. “PWID”
The drug charges and penalties vary significantly depending on the classification of the substance and the amount possessed.
Simple possession is generally considered the lowest category of drug offenses pertaining to possession for personal use. Possession with intent to distribute (PWID) pertains to charges involving packaging and distribution of drugs commercially.
Simple possession of a controlled substance carries a potential sentence of 180 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
Depending on the quantity and the designation of the controlled substance, a conviction for possession with intent to distribute or for distribution of a controlled substance in Washington DC can carry a sentence of up to 30 years in prison and/or a $500,000 fine.
Refer to resources section below for drug classification/schedules and related penalties.
ACTUAL v. CONSTRUCTIVE POSSESSION
In a prosecution for unlawful possession of a controlled substance in DC, the government has to establish beyond a reasonable doubt both the nature of the substance and possession thereof.
Possession in Washington DC can be either actual or constructive.
Actual possession in Washington DC means that the substance is in the physical custody of the person charged with possession (i.e. in the person’s pocket or hand), while constructive possession in Washington DC means that the illegal substance is within dominion and control or reach of the individual charged.
Generally drug paraphernalia is defined as any device or instrument that can facilitate use, injection, or administration of the controlled substance. Possession of drug paraphernalia is also a misdemeanor punishable by no more than $1000 or imprisonment of not more than 180 days, or both.
DC MARIJUANA STATUTE
Pursuant to DC Marijuana Decriminalization Statute it is not illegal to:
- Possess, use, purchase, or transport marijuana weighing 2 ounces or less;
- Transfer to another person 21 years of age or older, without return or remuneration, marijuana weighing one ounce or less;
- Possess, grow, harvest, or process, within the interior of a house or rental unit that constitutes such person’s principal residence, no more than 6 cannabis plants.
- Possess within such house or rental unit the marijuana produced by such plants; provided that, nothing in this subsection shall make it lawful to sell, offer for sale, or make available for sale any marijuana or cannabis plants.
Thus marijuana is not considered a controlled substance as long as the above criteria are met and there is no offer to sell – offer to sell marijuana remains to be illegal.
Generally manufacturing, distributing or possessing with intent to distribute of any substance is considered a felony with minimum sentences of five year or more, except if the substance is marijuana.
Manufacturing, distributing or possession of ½ pound or less of marijuana when a person has no prior conviction is considered a misdemeanor punishable by no more than 180 days in jail. Another exception under decriminalization statute lowering the penalties for marijuana only.
DC drug statutes and the various drug schedules and classifications are intricate and complicated. It is absolutely imperative to have the assistance of an experienced Washington DC drug lawyer to navigate through the criminal justice system and work collaboratively toward proving reasonable doubt and ultimately a not-guilty verdict.
Contact our experienced criminal law DC defense lawyer/DC drug lawyer for a comprehensive case evaluation and analysis. Your initial consultation with our DC Drug Possession Lawyer is complimentary.