Possession of a Controlled Substance text with Texas flags in background

Possession of a Controlled Substance: Texas Law

Possession of a Controlled Substance is a felony offense in Texas. Among the drugs you can be charged with possessing are cocaine, meth (including Adderall and Vivance), heroin, other prescription drugs and narcotics. The Possession of a Controlled Substance charge is sometimes abbreviated as “Poss CS” on court documents or simply “PCS.”

Have you been charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance (Poss CS) in Texas? Call criminal defense lawyer Paul Saputo at (888) 239-9305 to discuss legal representation.

A charge of Possession of a Controlled Substance typically occurs in conjunction with another offense that an officer might believe you are committing. For example, if you were arrested for trespassing, and while being searched an officer found a container of a controlled substance, an additional charge of PCS may be added on to the trespassing charge. However, it is extremely important to understand your rights and obligations in those situations, as an improper arrest, search, or detainment may affect the outcome of your case. Learn more about your rights when being detained

How can I be charged with possession of a controlled substance?

When a police officer sees someone in possession of a controlled substance, that officer will be able to make an arrest. Typically, if an officer has a reasonable suspicion, or what the law refers to as Probable Cause, that someone might be in possession of a controlled substance, he might be able to stop and search the suspected individual.

What are penalty groups? How much prison time can I get if I am convicted?

Depending upon the circumstances, a Possession of a Controlled Substance conviction can carry very severe punishments. Drug offenses are outlined in Chapter 481 of the Texas Health and Safety Code. The State of Texas classifies controlled dangerous substances into four categories, or penalty groups. The penalties for possession of substances within different penalty groups can vary tremendously. A more fully detailed explanation of the specific aspects of the various controlled substance offenses, penalties, and controlled substances can be found in our FAQ on Drug Possession Charges. Learn more about Drug Possession Charges

The illegal substance wasn’t mine, but someone asked me to hold onto it. Does that change anything?

Chapter 1 of the Texas Penal code states:

“Possession” means actual care, custody, control, or management.

According to case law, the act of possession itself has nothing to do with where you received the substance from. The law only cares that you were the person who had the most control or management of the controlled substance. So even if the controlled substance was given to you by a friend who explicitly says that it is his, you may still be charged with the crime of possession.

Do I have to be physically holding something to have possession?

Unfortunately the law in the state of Texas is not completely clear as to what “actual” possession means. Decisions from courts in Dallas County, Tarrant County, and other courts in Texas have said that the controlled substance does not have to physically be on your person in order for you to be charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance. The controlled substance can be in your backpack in another room, in your car, or a closet where you live when you aren’t home and you may still be charged with the offense.

I believe I was not arrested for a legitimate reason before they found a controlled substance in my possession, or I believe that important evidence to my case is not being revealed by the police or prosecutor. What does that mean?

If you were improperly arrested, detained, or searched when a controlled substance was found in your possession, it may be possible to “suppress” whatever was found after the improper action from being presented as evidence in a trial. Police officers are required to follow the laws and Constitution, and if they violate those requirements they are not permitted to benefit from whatever they get from the improper action. If you believe that your case might have had such an improper action taken by a police officer, it is important to let your attorney know as soon as possible as that information might make it much easier to get your case dismissed.

But as there is legal suppression, there is also an illegal form of suppression when the prosecutor deliberately hides evidence that is important to your case. This is violation of your Constitutional Rights under the 5th Amendment and if you think this violation of your rights is occurring, it is critical to let your attorney know. If a prosecutor is found to be illegally suppressing evidence, the case may be dismissed. The prosecutor, as the state’s attorney, is tasked with seeking justice and not simply obtaining criminal convictions.

I believe the police planted evidence to incriminate me, what does that mean for my case?

Sometimes, in order to secure a conviction when a case isn’t very strong, police or prosecutors will create or “plant” false evidence in order to make you look more guilty. This is a gross miscarriage of justice, and proving that false evidence has been provided can be crucial to the success of your case. If you have any doubts that evidence being provided has been fabricated, immediately notify your attorney.

What are the affirmative defenses to a charge of possession?

In cases where the specific charge is possession of a controlled substance “analogue” (which means a substance is chemically similar to a controlled substance, or is designed to have similar or stronger effects than the controlled substance, such as ‘synthetic marijuana’), it is an affirmative defense if the substance:

(1) was not in any part intended for human consumption;

(2) was a substance for which there is an approved new drug application under Section 505 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. Section 355); or

(3) was a substance for which an exemption for investigational use has been granted under Section 505 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. Section 355), if the actor’s conduct with respect to the substance is in accord with the exemption.

This means if you were in possession of a chemical analogue that was specifically exempted, or not intended for human use in any way, the charge may be dismissed.

I didn’t know that what I had was a controlled substance. Does that change anything?

The law requires that you “knowingly or intentionally” possessed the controlled substance. If we can prove that you had no knowledge (for example that you mistakenly picked up the wrong backpack at the airport and it contained an illicit drug) that you were in possession of a controlled substance, your case may be dismissed.

Depending on your unique circumstances, facing a charge of Possession of a Controlled Substance (Poss CS) can be a serious and life-altering event. We will work closely with you, using innovative defense methods, to make sure you full protection the law allows and get you the best outcome possible. Should the case go to trial, we will defend you with our cutting-edge trial strategies to seek a not-guilty verdict.

Recent Case Results

  • 2019 Not Guilty in Collin County DWI >0.15
  • 2019 Not Guilty in Dallas County Indecency with a Child
  • Oral Argument at the United States Federal 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on Prosecutorial Misconduct Claim arising out of Northern District of Texas
  • 2018 Not Guilty in Martin County Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon on a Peace Officer
  • Not Guilty in 2018 Dallas County DWI Trial
  • Client cleared in Dallas Police Shooting wrongful accusation
  • Federal sentencing results in 10 Year Downward Deviation from Sentencing Guidelines in 2018
  • Not Guilty Jury Verdict for client originally accused of Intoxication Manslaughter
  • Case Dismissed after picking jury in Aggravated Sexual Assault of Child case in 2017
  • United States Attorney dismisses case against client charged in El Paso Federal Court with Possession of Child Pornography
  • ALL CHARGES DISMISSED against our client in the Twin Peaks Waco Biker case
  • Client “No-billed” by grand jury investigating shooting death case
  • Coverage of Case Involving Waco teacher sending messages to student
  • Judge returns a Directed Verdict of Acquittal in case involving trainer of professional athletes
  • Rare Not Guilty verdict in Rockwall County DWI
  • 2016 Dismissal of Fort Worth Federal Possession of Obscene Visual Representation of the Sexual Abuse of Children
  • Hill County Money Laundering case Dismissed and civil asset forfeiture assets returned
  • Coverage of teen Lewisville client charged with hit-and-run death
  • Two Montague County Indecency with a Child cases Dismissed