All drug charges, including possession, are taken very seriously by New Hampshire courts. If convicted, a person could face hefty fines, time behind bars, and a permanent criminal record that impacts nearly all areas of their life. However, many people in New Hampshire do not understand the different types of possession under state law, the possible penalties, and their defense options when facing this charge. At Friedman & Bresaw, PLLC, we believe that everyone deserves a fair chance to protect their freedom, rights, and future. Our experienced drug crime lawyers located in Meredith, NH, can review the details of your case and help provide you with the dedicated representation you need. We understand the negative impact of possession charges in New Hampshire and strive to do everything in our power to aid our clients in this struggle. Call our office at (603) 707-4800 to give yourself a fighting chance if you are facing drug possession charges.
Possession of a Controlled Substance in New Hampshire
Possession of drugs, also known as possession of a controlled substance, is the most frequently charged drug crime in New Hampshire and across the country. New Hampshire’s Controlled Drug Act prohibits persons from possessing and having under their control any controlled substances (RSA 318-B:2). To secure a conviction for possession charges, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knowingly possessed or had control over the controlled substance in question. New Hampshire law divides controlled substances into five schedules that correspond with the drug’s misuse potential, as well as any medical uses the substance may have.
Types of Drug Possession
Under New Hampshire law, it does not technically matter whether the defendant “owned” the drugs found in their possession. For this reason, the state’s Controlled Drug Act recognizes two types of possession:
- Actual possession occurs when the defendant has immediate physical contact with the controlled substance in question. In other words, if the drug was found on you or in your hands and no one else had access to the controlled substance, it means you had actual possession.
- Constructive possession occurs when the defendant does not have actual possession of the controlled substance and the drugs are found in the defendant’s general area, but not on them. An example would be if law enforcement found drugs in your friend’s house while you were there.
There is also a third, lesser-known type of possession: joint possession, which occurs when two or more persons are in possession of the controlled substance at the same time. Drug possession charges are also broken down into two categories: simple possession (when the controlled substance is intended for personal use) and possession with intent to sell or distribute. The latter typically carries harsher penalties upon conviction because the offense is considered to be a danger to public safety.
Is Drug Possession a Felony in New Hampshire?
In New Hampshire, a drug possession charge can be either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on:
- The type of the controlled substance. Having serious drugs such as cocaine and heroin in your possession is usually punished more harshly than possession of less serious drugs.
- The amount of the controlled substance. The higher the amount found in your possession, the more likely you are to be charged with a felony.
- Intent. Typically, people who possess drugs for personal use are more likely to be charged with a misdemeanor, though there may be exceptions depending on the type and amount of the controlled substance. Felony charges are more likely to apply to those caught in possession of drugs with the intent to sell or distribute.
Misdemeanor possession in New Hampshire is punishable by up to up to a year in jail and a maximum fine of $2,000. Felony possession, on the other hand, includes penalties of up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000, though possessions with the intent to sell and deliver may carry stiffer penalties. Drug possession charges should never be taken lightly, as even a misdemeanor could mean jail time and have other serious consequences. Consider contacting a skilled lawyer to help you build a strong defense against the charges you face.
Drug Possession Defenses
Possible defenses against a drug possession charge are:
- The drugs belonged to someone else. The prosecution must prove that you knowingly possessed the controlled substance in question.
- Illegal search and seizure. The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures. For this reason, if proven that drugs were obtained during an illegal search, possession charges may be dismissed.
- Valid prescription. If you have a valid prescription for the controlled substance that was found in your possession, you cannot be convicted of a crime under New Hampshire’s Controlled Drug Act.
- Entrapment. If you can prove entrapment, which is when a person commits a crime because of harassment or coercion by a law enforcement officer, the charges may be dismissed.
Other defense strategies may be available to you depending on the unique facts of your case. You might want to discuss your situation with an experienced lawyer to help you identify the most effective defense to either avoid a conviction or reduce the charges/penalties you face. The experienced drug crime lawyers at Friedman & Bresaw, PLLC, understand the unique challenges of drug possession cases and have the necessary knowledge to investigate and fight your charges.
The Defense Representation You Can Trust
Being charged with a crime is always a terrifying experience, especially when faced with the possibility of spending years behind bars. At Friedman & Bresaw, PLLC, we strive to treat each client with the respect and dignity they deserve. We provide skilled criminal defense representation against drug possession charges involving all types of possession. Our lawyers are prepared to listen to your story, investigate every aspect of your case, and vigorously fight on your behalf to get you the most favorable outcome possible. Contact our office in Meredith, NH, by calling at (603) 707-4800 to discuss your specific case during a confidential consultation.