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Possession of a Controlled Substance

According to crime data from the Colorado Department of Public Safety, possession of a controlled substance accounts for nearly 22,000 cases a year, making it the second most common crime in the state. The majority of those arrested for the offense cause no harm to society, yet they are sentenced to jail and required to pay expensive fines.

Possession of a controlled substance, also known as unlawful possession of a controlled substance, is charged based on the substance found in your possession. Depending on your criminal history, you may be eligible to have the charges reduced or dropped through a diversion program.

Criminal Defense Attorney in Colorado Springs, CO

You may be tempted to opt out of hiring legal counsel and admit guilt. Don’t do this. An experienced criminal defense attorney can advocate on your behalf and fight to have the charges reduced or dropped. Take the first step in your defense and contact Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC.

Call (719) 328-1616 to schedule a case evaluation. We’ll listen to the facts of your case and formulate a defense plan in your best interest. Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC defends those accused of unlawful possession of a controlled substance in El Paso County, Denver County, and Arapahoe County.


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Colorado’s Drug Schedule

The Uniform Controlled Substance Act of 2013 governs possession crimes in Colorado. Within this act, hundreds of drugs and chemicals are divided into five schedules based on their potential of abuse and accepted medical use.

Listed below are examples of drugs in each schedule:

Schedule I

Schedule I substances are considered the most dangerous. The state recognizes these substances to have a high potential for abuse, no accepted medical use in treatment and lack the accepted safety to be used under medical supervision.

Examples of common schedule I drugs include:

  • Heroin
  • LSD
  • GHB
  • MDMA

Schedule II

Substances classified as schedule II are not as dangerous as schedule I drugs, but they still have a high potential for abuse. Schedule II substances also have limited use for medical treatment and can lead to severe psychological or physical dependence if abused. The majority of substances classified as schedule II can be purchased with a prescription. Possessing a schedule II substance is legal, but only if you have a valid prescription.

Listed below are examples of common schedule II drugs:

  • Cocaine
  • Opium
  • Codeine
  • Oxycontin
  • Amphetamine
  • Methamphetamine
  • Magic mushrooms (psilocybin)
  • Vicodin
  • Fentanyl

Schedule III

Substances in this schedule are considered to have a potential for abuse, but less of a chance than drugs in schedules I and II. Schedule III substances also have an accepted medical use in treatment, and their chances of physical dependency are low.

Examples of common schedule III substances include:

  • Ketamine
  • Anabolic steroids
  • Medications with small amounts of codeine or morphine

Schedule IV

If you haven’t already noticed, the lower a drug’s schedule, the safer it’s believed to be. Schedule IV drugs have a low potential for abuse, have accepted use in medical treatment and have a limited chance of leading to physical or psychological dependency.

Common examples of schedule IV drugs include the following:

  • Valium
  • Xanax
  • Ambien
  • Clotiazepam
  • Loprazolam

Schedule V

Schedule V drugs are considered the safest controlled substances. These substances have a lower potential for abuse compared to schedule IV drugs, have an accepted medical use and have a lesser chance of physical or psychological dependency than drugs in any other schedule.

Examples of schedule V substance include:

  • Buprenorphine
  • Pyrovalerone
  • Medications with minimal amounts of codeine or morphine

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Penalties for Possession of a Controlled Substance

Unlike most states, Colorado does not sentence unlawful possession based on the drug and its weight. Instead, the state breaks the drug charge into two categories: level 1 drug misdemeanor and level 4 drug felony. Rather than taking into account both the drug and its weight, the court will only consider the drug when determining penalties.

According to the state’s Controlled Substance Act, you will be charged with a level 1 drug misdemeanor if you possess any compound, mixture or preparation of a substance listed in schedule III, IV or V. Ketamine, Rohypnol and bath salts are not included.

A level 1 drug misdemeanor is punishable by:

  • Up to 18 months in jail
  • A fine of up to $5,000
  • Both incarceration and fines

Possessing a schedule I or II drug, ketamine, Rohypnol, or bath salts will result in a level 4 drug felony. A level 4 drug felony can entail the following:

  • Up to a year in prison
  • A fine of up to $100,000
  • Both incarceration and fines

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Am I Eligible for a Diversion Program?

As part of Colorado policy, low-level drug offenders are offered the chance to attended diversion programs rather than incarceration. There are various alternatives to incarceration such as pretrial diversion and deferred sentencing.

First-time misdemeanor drug offenders may be eligible for a pretrial diversion. In a pretrial diversion, your case will be delayed so you can attend a drug treatment program. Once the program is complete, your misdemeanor charges will be dismissed.

As part of the diversion program, you will also be required to abide by certain rules. These rules include:

  • Remaining in Colorado
  • Routine drug testing
  • No alcohol, drugs without a prescription or marijuana
  • Cannot possess a firearm
  • Attend drug counseling
  • Pay court-ordered supervision fees

Low-level drug felony offenders may have their sentence deferred. If this is the case, you will be placed on probation and court-ordered to attend a drug treatment program. Your charges will be deferred to a level 1 drug misdemeanor if you complete the program and comply with other conditions of your probation. You will not be eligible for deferred sentencing if you have been convicted of a violent crime, are ineligible for probation or have two or more felony convictions.

A diversion sentence is typically handed down in drug court. This type of court is designed to provide supervision for offenders with a high level of substance abuse or addiction and run the risk of recidivating. Sentencing in drug court is a much better alternative compared to time behind bars. In addition to this, your charges will either be reduced or dismissed if you complete the program. Contact a criminal defense attorney to see if a diversion program is right for you.


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Additional Resources for Possession of a Controlled Substance

Uniform Controlled Substances Act of 2013 – Follow the link to read the full text of the act governing possession of a controlled substance. You can read the exact legal definition of the offense and find out if you can be arrested for residual amounts in a syringe. You can also gain access to information about other drug crimes such as unlawful use of a controlled substance and offenses related to marijuana and marijuana concentrates.

Fourth Judicial District Drug Court  – View a PDF from the Fourth Judicial District of Colorado to learn more about drug court. You can see who’s eligible, learn about the phases of the treatment and general rules and regulations.


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Criminal Defense Lawyer in Colorado Springs, CO

Taking on the Colorado Criminal Justice System on your own can be an arduous task, especially if you do not have any legal experience. Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC has been defending clients charged with possession for nearly 20 years. As your counsel, we vow to achieve the best outcome possible and always keep you informed.

Call (719) 328-1616 to schedule a time to speak with us more about your case. We defend clients in areas such as Colorado Springs, Denver, and Littleton.


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Law Offices of Clifton Black, P.C.