Drug possession penalties in Alabama

On Behalf of | Apr 3, 2024 | Drug charges |

Alabama takes its drug laws seriously. Even the possession of a controlled substance can land you in jail.

A controlled substance is any drug included in Schedules I through V under federal law. Schedule I includes a broad range of drugs that are considered to be highly addictive and have no valid medical use. Controlled substances in lower schedules include drugs like oxycodone, Ritalin and Xanax and many more that are often prescribed for pain, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other conditions. They’re legal only with a valid prescription.

If someone is in possession of these lower-schedule drugs, but they weren’t prescribed specifically to them, they could face the same criminal penalties as they would for possessing “street drugs” like cocaine and heroin. That could be the case whether someone bought them, took them from their parents’ medicine cabinet or a friend simply gave them a few pills.

What does Alabama law say?

Under Alabama law, it’s illegal for someone to possess “a controlled substance enumerated in Schedules I through V” or to obtain “by fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, or subterfuge…a controlled substance enumerated in Schedules I through V.” A charge for possession of a controlled substance can be at least a Class D felony. That can carry a potential prison sentence of up to five years as well as a fine.

Types of possession

While the laws around possession of controlled substances may seem black and white, it’s important to know that there are different kinds of possession. When someone has enough in their possession only for personal use, the consequences aren’t as serious as if they intend to sell or distribute the drugs.

There’s also a difference between actual and constructive possession.

Actual possession means that drugs are on someone’s person (for example, in their pocket or in a backpack they have on them). The drugs are considered to be under their control.

By contrast, constructive possession occurs when a person has access to drugs, but they aren’t on them. For example, they may be riding in a car or sitting in a room where there are drugs. In those cases, they may not even be aware that drugs are present.

An arrest for drug possession is certainly something to be taken seriously. However, the outcome doesn’t necessarily have to be a conviction. Getting experienced legal guidance as soon as possible can make all the difference to the outcome of an individual’s circumstances.