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How Mississippi charges and imposes penalties for drug possession

Mississippi is a “zero tolerance” state. This means that an individual found in possession of illegal drugs, also known as controlled dangerous substances (“CDS”), can be convicted with serious penalties. A conviction is based upon three general elements. At the time of arrest, the individual must:

  • Possess the substance,
  • Have knowledge that the substance was present and illegal,
  • Have control over the substance’s presence and location at the time of arrest.

The law determines charges and penalties based on the type of drug and amount in possession. Controlled substances are categorized into five schedules. The first schedule contains the most dangerous drugs, such as opiates, and is accompanied by the most severe penalties. If discovered with more than a personal amount, often a one dosage unit, the penalties are greater.

Types of charges and penalties

Misdemeanor possession convictions are penalized with a fine and jail time up to a year. Few possession cases are charged as misdemeanors, as the maximum substance amount allowed is minimal. Felony possession charges and convictions are far more common, as all schedule I possessions are charged as felonies. Penalties include a severe fine and one to four years in prison.

Those convicted of either a misdemeanor or felony can be subjected to other penalties. These penalties can vary considerably based on the drug, amount in possession and offense level. Because these penalties are heavily determined by the state of Mississippi, a criminal defense attorney can help explain the penalties unique to specific cases.