5 Common Penalties When You’re Caught in Possession of a Controlled Substance

Updated on July 25, 2022

Picture: Eduardo Balderas 

Being caught in possession of a controlled substance can be a daunting and terrifying experience. You may have known about the seriousness of your actions, but the situation might not have been as it seems, or there were mitigating circumstances that weren’t taken into consideration. 

Whatever the cause and situation, you’re likely curious about what comes next and the possible penalties you might face. While several factors can determine the most likely penalty, such as your location and the drug in question, here are some of the most common ones your lawyer will most likely discuss with you. 


After enlisting the services of a San Antonio drug crime defense attorney, you might find out that your drug possession conviction comes with a fine. Fines are among the most common penalties, and their value can depend on the drug classification and individual circumstances. Generally, fines can be as low as $250 or as much as $100,000 or more. 

Schedule VI drugs like inhalants can sometimes come with a fine of up to $250, while Schedule V fines with low potential for abuse, such as cough medicine, might see you receive a $500 fine. The more dangerous and harmful the drug, the higher the fine might be. 

Jail or Prison Time

Jail time or incarceration can be an outcome for many convicted of possessing a controlled substance like cocaine or heroin. Many factors can influence how much jail time someone might receive, such as state laws, the charges, and the drugs involved. Some people can be imprisoned for days or weeks, while others spend several years or the rest of their life behind bars. 

A Probation Sentence

Probation can be a sentence handed to someone with or without other punishments, like jail time, drug rehabilitation, or fines. A sentence of probation means that the person charged with possession of controlled substances will need to comply with rules laid out in a court of law and check in with their probation officer regularly.  Failure to do so can mean the court has the power to revoke probation and put the offender in jail to serve time. 

A Diversion Program

While jail time, fines, and probation are common outcomes for those who have been on the wrong side of the law, a diversion program is sometimes an option for first-time offenders. These programs often include behavior modification and counseling for a specific period.

Once completed, prosecutors usually agree to drop the drug charges. However, should an offender fail to meet the requirements of the diversion program, the charges will remain in place, and alternative penalties like jail time might be considered. 

Drug Treatment Programs

Drug dependence is a growing problem in the United States, and an estimated half of prisoners meet the criteria for drug dependence or abuse. In many situations, jail time is not an ideal solution. Instead, a drug treatment program is. 

Drug treatment programs allow offenders to receive help for their drug problem rather than punish them for it. Many state courts also make rehabilitation a requirement of probation.  

When you’ve never been on the wrong side of the law, it’s hard to know what to expect. However, with the help of your chosen drug crime defense lawyer, you can learn everything there is to know about the most common penalties and what you can likely expect in your unique situation.

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.