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CRS 18-18-403.5

Colorado Unlawful Possession of a Controlled Substance

Colorado Revised Statute 18-18-403.5—known as unlawful possession of a controlled substance—can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the schedule of the drug and how much the defendant possessed. This crime is punishable by up to 6 to 18 months in jail or 6 to 12 months in prison.

Let’s face it. Life happens.

No one wants to get in trouble, but when it happens, what do you do?

If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, the best decision you can make is to
hire a good criminal defense attorney. With the right defense lawyer in your corner, you
will be advised and guided towards the best outcome for your case.

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Penalties for Unlawful Possession of a Controlled Substance in Colorado

Charge Classification Penalty
Unlawful Possession of a Controlled Substance Misdemeanor Level 1 Drug:

  • 6 to 18 months in jail; and/or
  • A fine from $500 to $5,000
Unlawful Possession of a Controlled Substance Felony Level 4 Drug:

  • 6 to 12 months in prison; and/or
  • A fine from $1,000 to $100,000
  • A drug offender surcharge of $1,500 to $4,500
Unlawful Possession of a Controlled Substance Felony Level 2 Drug:

  • 4 to 8 years in prison; and/or
  • A fine from $3,000 to $750,000
(Colo. Rev. Stat. § § 18-18-403.5, 18-1.3-401, 18-1.3-406, 18-1.3-501.)

 

It is important to note that a fourth or subsequent misdemeanor will be charged as a Level 4 drug felony. Your charge can also be aggravated, which means you will face harsher consequences for your crime.

Penalties for unlawful possession of a controlled substance in Colorado depend on the schedule of drug.

 

Drug Schedules Examples
Schedule I BZP
Cathinones (“bath salts” or Khat)
Ecstasy (MDMA or Molly)
GHB
Heroin
LSD
Xyrem (a prescription medicine containing GHB that is a Schedule III drug if used with a prescription
Schedule II Amphetamine
Cocaine
Codeine
Mescaline
Methadone
Methamphetamine
Morphine
Opium
Oxycontin
PCP (Angel Dust)
Peyote
Psilocybin (magic mushrooms)
Vicodin
Schedule III Anabolic steroids
Flunitrazepam (Rohypnol)
Ketamine (“K” or “Special K”)
Medications containing small amounts of codeine or morphine
Some barbituates
Schedule IV Benzodiazepines (Valium and Xanax)
Prescription sleep aids (Ambien)
Schedule V Medications with small amounts of codeine or opium

Possible Defenses for Unlawful Possession of a Controlled Substance in Colorado

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The prosecutor must prove that the defendant committed the crime of unlawful possession of a controlled substance. To do this, they must prove elements that show, without a reasonable doubt, that the defendant had possession of a controlled substance regardless of whether or not they owned the drugs.

A criminal defense lawyer will typically use specific defenses to show the defendant is not guilty or convince the judge to reduce their sentence.

Here are some common drug defenses used for unlawful possession of a controlled substance:

  • The defendant had a prescription for the drug
  • The defendant did not know they possessed the drug
  • The defendant was not aware that the drug was a controlled substance
  • The defendant was falsely accused
  • The police only found a trace of the controlled substance on the defendant

Remember that you can be charged for the unlawful possession of a controlled substance for simply possessing the drugs, even if the substance does not belong to you.

Colorado Revised Statutes, CRS 18-18-403.5:

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18-18-403.5. Unlawful Possession of a Controlled Substance:

(1) Except as authorized by part 1 or 3 of article 42.5 of title 12, C.R.S., part 2 of article 80 of title 27, C.R.S., section 18-1-711, section 18-18-428 (1) (b), or part 2 or 3 of this article, it is unlawful for a person knowingly to possess a controlled substance.

(2) A person who violates subsection (1) of this section by possessing:

(a) Any material, compound, mixture, or preparation that contains any quantity of flunitrazepam, ketamine, cathinones, or a controlled substance listed in schedule I or II of part 2 of this article commits a level 4 drug felony.

(b) (Deleted by amendment, L. 2013.)

(c) Any material, compound, mixture, or preparation that contains any quantity of a controlled substance listed in schedule III, IV, or V of part 2 of this article except flunitrazepam or ketamine commits a level 1 drug misdemeanor.

(3) If the circumstances described in section 18-18-428 (1) (b) occur, the peace officer shall not arrest the person pursuant to this section for any minuscule, residual controlled substance that may be present in the used hypodermic needle or syringe, and the district attorney shall not charge or prosecute the person pursuant to this section for any minuscule, residual controlled substance that may be present in a used hypodermic needle or syringe. The circumstances described in section 18-18-428 (1) (b) may be used as a factor in a probable cause or reasonable suspicion determination of any criminal offense if the original stop or search was lawful.

Have You Been Charged or Arrested for Unlawful Possession of a Controlled Substance in Colorado Springs?

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In Colorado, unlawful possession of a controlled substance comes with severe consequences, ranging from several months to years in jail or prison, along with hefty fines. For the prosecutor to convict you, they must convince the jury that you were knowingly in unlawful possession of controlled substances. A criminal conviction requires that the jury finds you guilty of the charge beyond a reasonable doubt. However, this charge has several defenses, such as having a prescription for the substance or being unaware the drug was a controlled substance. While these defenses are helpful, you still need an advocate on your side to help you understand Colorado law and what the District attorney must prove to convict you. That’s where we come in. Contact our criminal defense attorneys at Right Law Group today.

FAQ: Colorado Unlawful Possession of a Controlled Substance

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What are the different types of drug possession in Colorado?

There are three types of drug possession: actual, constructive, and joint. Actual possession is physically holding the substance, while constructive possession is possessing it without physically touching it. Finally, joint possession is when two or more people own the drug together.

What does “schedule of a drug” mean?

Drug schedules are how substances are classified based on their level of abuse and dependence potential. There are five drug schedules, where Schedule I is the highest level for abuse and Schedule V is the lowest level for abuse.

What are the aggravating factors for unlawful possession of a controlled substance?

Aggravating factors are reasons that the judge might decide to increase your sentence. Some common aggravating factors for unlawful possession of a controlled substance include having previous criminal convictions, being on probation or bond, or being on parole for another felony.

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