Possession of a Controlled Substance and the Schedule Drugs

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All anyone has to do understand the drug problem in this country and around the world is to turn on the nightly news. Every single day there are stories of overdoses, murders tied to drugs, and/or drug busts worth thousands of dollars. And, without discrimination as to the wealth or poorness of a neighborhood, people of all income levels are suffering from addiction from alcohol to prescription pills, to cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. And, with the stigma that often accompanies drug use and related convictions, many people are too scared to talk about their addictions. As a direct result, our prisons continue to fill with drug-related defendants. And, prior to July of 2014, many of our jails were filled with petty drug users and abusers who could not free themselves from the vicious cycle of drug dependency.

However, in July of 2014, the legislature finally lifted the archaic notion that drug offenses were equal to other similarly charged crimes on similar levels, like sex and violent crimes. Instead, after realizing that drug-related crimes are often tied to addiction, the legislature lowered the penalties for these offenses. For example, under the old law, Possession of a Controlled Substance was classified as a Class-D Felony — carrying with it a potential sentence of 180 days to 3 years in jail. Under the new guidelines, the same charge is labeled as a Class-A Misdemeanor, with a range of zero days in jail to a year. At Banks & Brower our Indianapolis drug possession lawyers can help, call our law firm if you have any questions regarding possession charges in Indiana.

Possession of a Controlled Substance in Indiana

According to Indiana Code 35-48-1-9, a “Controlled substance” is defined as,  “a drug, substance, or immediate precursor in schedule I, II, III, IV, or V under:(1) IC 35-48-2-4, IC 35-48-2-6, IC 35-48-2-8, IC 35-48-2-10, or IC 35-48-2-12.” All five of these categories encompass drugs of every shape, size, and color. From household prescription drugs, to inhalants, to more hardcore drugs. All of these drugs are listed as substances that should only be available by means of a controlled method, as in through a prescription, through your employment, and/or through other legal avenues. And, when people find themselves in possession of these drugs without a valid reason for being so, they find themselves in conflict with the law and facing potential penalties.

Here is a quick reference guide to the Schedule Drugs and Categories:


Defined as a high degree of abuse and addiction and no accepted medical use.

  • Common Drugs in This Class: Heroin, Marijuana, LSD, Peyote, Psilocybin or “Shrooms”, THC, and/or MDMA or “Ecstasy”.


Defined as a high degree of abuse and addiction, has a medical use and is used for treatment with strong limitations, and abused can lead to severe “psychological or physical dependence.”

  • Common Drugs in This Class: Raw Opium Hydrocodone, Methamphetamine, Codeine,  Morphine, Oxycodone or “OxyContin”, Methadone, Cocaine/Crack, Amphetamine, Phencyclidine or “PCP”.


Noted for a potential for abuse less than schedule I and II, has accepted medical use, and could lead to moderate or lower psychological/physical dependence.

  • Common Drugs in This Class: Steroids, Buprinorphine or “Suboxone”, Codeine.


Considered to be a lower risk than Level III for abuse/dependency and has accepted medical uses.

  • Common Drugs in This Class:  Clonazepam or “Klonopin”, “Alprazolam or “Xanax”, Dextroproxyphene or “Darvocet”, Zolpidem or “Ambien”, and Diazepam or “Valium”.


Earmarked to have an even lower risk of abuse/dependency than schedule IV drugs and has legitimate medical purposes.

  • Common Drugs in This Class: Codeine less than 100 milligrams per 100 milliliters.

The legislature, under IC 35-48-4-7, codifies that “(a) A person who, without a valid prescription or order of a practitioner acting in the course of the practitioner’s professional practice, knowingly or intentionally possesses a controlled substance(pure or adulterated) classified in schedule I, II, III, or IV, except marijuana, hashish, salvia, or a synthetic cannabinoid” is guilty of possession of a controlled substance, a Class A misdemeanor. That carries a potential penalty of zero days in jail up to one full year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

However, possession of a controlled substance can also be charged as a Level 6 felony (with a penalty of 180 days to 2.5 years in jail) if the person commits the offense and an enhancing circumstance applies such as: (1) having a prior conviction for possession or dealing in a controlled substance, (2) possessing a firearm while caught dealing or possessing a controlled substance, (3) possessing or dealing in a controlled substance on a bus or within 500 feet of a school or public park, (4) providing a controlled substance to someone under 18 years of age, (5) manufacturing the controlled substance, and/or (6) committing the offense in the presence of someone under 18 years of age.

IC 35-48-4-14(c) goes on to state that “[a] person who knowingly or intentionally acquires possession of a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception, subterfuge, alteration of a prescription order, concealment of a material fact, or use of a false name or false address commits a Level 6 felony. However, the offense is a Level 5 felony if the person has a prior conviction for an offense under this subsection.”

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So, as anyone can see, while the legislature has lowered the penalty on possession of a controlled substance, there still is a significant ramification for being charged with this offense. If you or a loved one are facing a pending criminal charge for possession of a controlled substance, given the experienced Indianapolis Criminal Defense Attorneys at Banks & Brower, LLC a call today. We answer emails and phone calls 24/7/365 at info@banksbrower.com and (317) 870-0019. Call today and schedule a free initial consultation.