Riverside County courthouse, Riverside, California
Defending and Protecting since 2004

Simple Possession of a Controlled Substance

To prove that a defendant is guilty of simple possession of a controlled substance the district attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  1. The defendant unlawfully possessed a controlled substance;
  2. The defendant knew of its presence;
  3. The defendant knew of the substance's nature or character as a controlled substance;
  4. The controlled substance was a in fact a controlled substance.

    AND

  5. The controlled substance was in a usable amount.
CalCrim 2304 & 220

The following are examples of possible defenses to a charge of simple possession of a controlled substance:

  1. The defendant did not know of the presence of the controlled substance:

Assume the following set of facts: George and Sam are friends. They like to hang out and go hiking in the nearby mountains. Sam uses methamphetamine. George does not use methamphetamine. Before one hike, Sam was using methamphetamine and mistakenly placed his remaining stash of meth in George's covered bike basket. George knew Sam was a user of drugs, but did not know Sam had placed the methamphetamine in his covered bike basket. If the police stopped Sam and George, searched George’s bike basket, and found the methamphetamine, George would not be guilty of possession of controlled substance because he did not know of the presence of the methamphetamine in his covered bike basket. However, Sam would likely be guilty of simple possession of a controlled substance.

  1. The amount of the controlled substance possessed was not a useable amount:

Assume the following set of facts: Sam and George are friends. They like to hang out and go hiking in the nearby mountains. Sam uses methamphetamine. George uses methamphetamine as well. During their hike, they were both using methamphetamine that was contained in a small baggie. Before heading back home they each took one last hit of methamphetamine and George placed the empty baggie into his pocket. The baggie only had useless traces of methamphetamine. These useless traces were not enough to be used by someone as a controlled substance. If they were then stopped by police officers, neither Sam nor George would be guilty of simple possession of a controlled substance because what remained of the methamphetamine at the time they were stopped was not a useable amount, but instead only useless traces that were not enough to be used by someone as a controlled substance. However, both likely would be guilty of being under the influence of a controlled substance.