Wednesday, June 25, 2014

101 Things the Author Needs to Know
About the Police and the Law

"Is drug residue considered possession?"

 Yes.  No.  Maybe.
 What does that mean for you as an author?

YES.  Your character can be charged with possession of a controlled substance in most states for trace amounts as long as the residue can be tested chemically and identified as such.  What is residue?  Ashes can be residue.  The film of smoke inside a pipe is residue.  The dust left on the baggie from powder cocaine is residue.
Possession can be a felony.  Or it can be a misdemeanor, a lesser charge.  It will depend on the type of drug.  In most states possessing any amount of heroin is a felony.  In many situations the quantity of the drug will determine the type of charge your hero will be faced with.   Also the reason for possessing the drug will come into play.  Was it for personal use?  Or to sell?  Possessing drugs for personal use usually incurs less severe charges than possession with the intent to sell. Those who use drugs are the victims of those who sell them. A user harms only himself; a seller harms many.
However, possession is nonetheless a crime, and even mere possession of small amounts can be charged as a felony in states that have strict drug possession laws.  There could also be various aggravating circumstances that will turn a misdemeanor amount of drugs into a felony charge.  If a person was caught with drugs around a school, for example.  Or if they are a repeat offender.
 Check the laws in the state in which you are setting your scene.
NO.  You cannot be charged with possession of a controlled substance if the alleged drug is marijuana and you live in a state that allows a citizen to possess less than an ounce.  California, Georgia and Massachusetts are examples of such states. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still against the law, but it’s a misdemeanor with a penalty of a fine.
MAYBE.  In most states you cannot be convicted of possession of a controlled substance it if is found in body tissues or fluids.  This happens when someone is stopped by the cops and they eat the drugs they have on them.  If they are observed consuming drugs they can be charged with obstruction of justice or tampering with evidence…but  usually not possession.


Tamara said...

Very smart the way you set that up. Jody. Good information.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Tamara. Thanks. Not something that can be used for WW stories, but maybe useful in other venues.

Chris said...

You're right, Jody, can't see a drug story getting into WW any time soon, but an interesting read, even so.

Tamara said...

Right, can't you just see it? I met this gorgeous man in rehab.