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Drug Possession Lawyer

Drug possession (other than marijuana) in Denver & throughout Colorado is typically a felony with the potential for lengthy prison terms. Even if you receive intensive supervised probation instead of prison, the conviction can do lasting damage to your reputation, parental rights, driver’s license, right to a firearm, ability to find employment, and more.

A good defense lawyer will both aggressively defend you from the charges, try to limit collateral consequences, and help establish mitigation that will support the most favorable plea and sentence, should the case result in conviction.  The right lawyer will be a criminal trial lawyer with  extensive experience litigating 4th Amendment claims regarding the searches that led to police discovery of the drugs in question.

Matthew Hand is a former prosecutor and an honors graduate of top-ranked NYU Law School. He provides strong and compassionate defense for people accused of drug crimes in Colorado.

Drug Possession Defense

Drug crimes can be defended in a few key ways. First, drug cases frequently result from searches (of you, of a car you’re in, of a home), and there are important constitutional limits on when, where and how police may search. If your Fourth Amendment rights were violated in a search, you may be able to suppress the evidence. If the right evidence is suppressed, the case may be dismissed. Suppressing evidence generally requires a sophisticated criminal lawyer with experience litigating constitutional issues.

Second, the state must prove that you possessed the drugs, and a drug crime defense lawyer can help prevent them from doing so. In reality, possession is defined very broadly in Colorado law (you don’t have to be the owner of the drugs, you don’t have to be holding them, etc.), but you can still win a trial under various circumstances. Every case is different, but acquittal on the issue of “possession” is most likely when there is more than one person around when the drugs are located (say, in a crowded car), when the drugs are found inside someone else’s property (say, in a friend’s car that you were driving), or other circumstances that make it difficult to prove you were in possession of drugs, and that you knew it.

Third, there are various technical matters related to drug composition, weight, and laboratory testing of the alleged drugs. All of these can be challenged by a criminal lawyer. Whether focusing on constitutional issues, attacking the evidence of “possession”, or working on scientific and technical issues, a good drug crimes lawyer will put pressure on the state. By putting pressure on the state, you get better plea offers and sentences, and a chance of outright dismissal or acquittal at trial.

Don’t do this alone, a lawyer can greatly improve the resolution of your drug case. When you consult with any defense lawyer, make sure he or she is an experienced trial lawyer. These cases are not easy to win, but your future depends on it.

Call (303) 900-8480 to consult with attorney Matthew Hand.

Possession with Intent to Distribute

Even without direct evidence of a drug sale or business, mere possession of drugs can be charged as severely as distribution under C.R.S. 18-18-405, with far greater consequences.

Typically, the decision to charge possession as “possession with intent” is based on factors such as the quantity of drug involved, whether it appears to have been packaged for sale (as in baggies), or the presence of scales, firearms or large quantities of cash. Oftentimes, however, the enhanced charge is based on questionable assumptions made by police officers with limited information. It is critical to hire an attorney who can address and combat these assumptions, an attorney who knows how to show the deputy district attorney, or a jury, if necessary, that a case may be based on nothing more than assumptions.

As with mere possession (above), central to your defense is the investigation of all police activity that led to the discovery of drugs. Illegal automobile stops and illegal searches are unfortunately common, though they can be hard to prove. With hustle and a thorough understanding of the case law, though, an experienced criminal lawyer can identify and establish 4th Amendment (search) violations that lead to suppression of the evidence against you.

Matthew Hand has extensive experience litigating 4th Amendment issues and has tried dozens of cases to juries.
For a free consultation call (303) 900-8480.


Drug Crime Sentences

Colorado has created special felony and misdemeanor classifications for drug crimes, now called “drug felonies” and “drug misdemeanors”.  Discuss your case with an attorney, as there are circumstances that can change the penalties described below.   Other than the DF1, the prison & jail sentences below are non-mandatory, meaning absent special circumstances, probation is a possibility.  Whether probation or incarceration is likely in your case depends on too many factors to fully describe here.

  • DF1: 8-32 years prison / 3 years parole / up to $1,000,000 fine
  • DF2: 4-8 years prison  / 2 years parole / up to $750,000 fine
  • DF3: 2-4 years prison  / 1 year parole  / up to $500,000 fine
  • DF4: 6 mos- 1 yr prison/ 1 year parole / up to $100,000 fine
  • DM1: 6 mos-18 mos jail / up to $5000 fine
  • DM2: up to 1 year jail / up to $750 fine

Possession of a controlled substance | 18-18-403.5

Knowingly possessing any amount of a Schedule 1 or 2 drug, or ketamine or flunitrazepam, is a DF4.

Knowingly possessing any amount of a Schedule 3, 4, or 5 drug (other than ketamine or flunitrazepam) is a DM1.

Schedules 1 and 2 include such drugs as heroin, ecstasy, oxycodone, LSD, PCP, cocaine, and more.

Schedules 3, 4 and 5 include such drugs as diazepam (Valium®), hydrocodone with acetaminophen (Vicodin®), alprazolam (Xanax®), and more.

Unlawful distribution, manufacturing, dispensing, or sale of a controlled substance | 18-18-405

Any knowing manufacture, dispensing, sale, transfer, or distribution of a controlled substance, or possession with intent to do any of those, can violate this statute.

The level of offense depends on which drug is involved, the quantity (weight) of the drug, and other circumstances, such as whether the sale was to a minor, whether the transfer of drugs was contemporaneous with use, and more.  Violations of this statute typically range from DF1 to DF4, though other outcomes are possible.  Discuss the particulars of your case with an attorney.

Call (303) 900-8480 to discuss your case with Matthew Hand.


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