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What to Know About Cocaine Possession Cases

Criminal charges for cocaine possession are somewhat similar to other drug possession cases, but often carry more serious penalties because of the type of drug cocaine is. There are two main types of cocaine possession cases: simple possession and constructive possession.

Simple possession refers to a person who has cocaine on his or her person or under his or her physical, personal control (such as in a bag or purse). The person must knowingly have had the drug in his or her possession. Individuals who have what they legitimately think is a box of baking soda, for example, and have no reason to know it actually contains cocaine would not be guilty of possession because they do not “knowingly” have it.

Constructive possession refers to a case in which suspects have legal control over the drug, even if they don’t necessarily have it in their possession. It could be in a home or vehicle owned or rented by the person, a hotel room in which he or she was staying, a warehouse he or she manages or a package addressed to that individual.

There are several common defense strategies available to people charged with cocaine possession, including:

  • Lack of knowledge: Individuals who legitimately do not know they have cocaine in their possession cannot be found guilty of possession.
  • Lack of power or intent to control: In constructive possession cases, the prosecution must be able to prove the defendant intended to exert some control over the cocaine, even if it was not in his or her possession.

A person convicted of a first offense of cocaine possession may be sentenced to up to a year in prison, fined a maximum of $5,000, or both. The possible penalties increase with subsequent convictions and larger amounts in possession, at which point intent to distribute becomes a factor.

If you’ve been charged with cocaine possession, contact the experienced Berks County drug defense attorney David R. Eshelman.

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