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Charged with First Time Possession in Indiana? 

Being charged with a crime for the first time can be a scary situation for any Hoosier, especially those charged with first time possession in Indiana. Therefore, it’s important that everyone has some understanding of Indiana’s laws on drug possession; the potential penalties associated with a first-time conviction; and the constitutional rights that we all have when interacting with law enforcement.  

If you have, however, already been charged with a drug crime in Indiana, then it’s important that you seek legal representation as soon as possible. Indiana has some of the harshest drug laws in the United States. Depending on the jurisdiction in which you were charged, you could face serious and aggressive prosecution, and ultimately, a potential prison sentence.  

Regardless of where you’re located in the state of Indiana, the Indiana criminal defense attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP are available to assist you. Our defense attorneys have handled drug cases all over the state of Indiana and know how to manage evidentiary matters in an effective, strategic manner. Given this, if you’re looking for a defense attorney who is invested in your case and willing to exhaust every avenue to secure the best possible outcome, look no further than Keffer Hirschauer LLP.  

To speak with an experienced drug crimes attorney in Indiana today, call 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.  

Indiana Drug Crime Attorneys

Indiana First Time Possession Laws 

In general, Indiana’s laws on drug possession are located in Indiana Code 35-48-4-7. This section of Indiana law pertains to all controlled substances classified in Schedule I, II, III, or IV; however, the laws on the possession of certain scheduled drugs like cannabis, cocaine, methamphetamine and other narcotic drugs are addressed elsewhere in criminal code.  

Under the law listed above, a person who is found to be in possession of a controlled substance in Indiana, without a valid prescription for the substance, can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor offense, or a Level 6 felony offense if enhancing circumstances apply.  

For the purposes of Indiana Code 35-48-4-7, common controlled substances involved in possession cases include:  

  • Schedule I: LSD, mescaline, MDMA (or molly), ecstasy, psilocybin (or magic mushrooms), GHB,  
  • Schedule II: Adderall, Dexedrine, Vyvanse and Ritalin 
  • Schedule III: Suboxone, Tylenol with codeine, ketamine, and a variety of anabolic steroids 
  • Schedule IV: Xanax, Klonapin, Modafinil (brand name Provigil) and Phentermine 
  • Schedule V: Lyrica, among other low-level narcotic drugs 

First Time Possession of Cannabis in Indiana 

While cannabis is considered to a Scheduled I controlled substance, the cannabis laws in Indiana are much less severe than that of other drugs. So, when it comes cannabis, hash, or hash oil, being charged with first time possession in Indiana will only result Class B misdemeanor charges. However, as outlined in Indiana Code 35-48-4-11, the charges may be enhanced cannabis is packaged in a manner that appears to be low-THC hemp extract and the person knew (or reasonably should have known) that the product was in fact, cannabis.  

First Time Possession of Narcotics and Methamphetamine in Indiana 

Narcotic drugs and Methamphetamine in Indiana carry much more serious penalties than cannabis and most other scheduled substances. As clearly stated in Indiana Code 35-48-4-6 and Indiana Code 35-48-4-6.1, a person who knowingly or intentionally possesses cocaine (pure or adulterated), a narcotic drug (pure or adulterated) classified in schedule I or II, or methamphetamine (pure or adulterated) commits possession of cocaine or a narcotic drug, a Level 6 felony. However, even for those charged with first time possession in Indiana, the classification can be enhanced if the amount of the drug involved is at least 5 grams.  

In general, drugs considered to be narcotic drugs include “opium, opiates, derivatives of opium and opiates, including their isomers, esters, ethers, salts, and salts of isomers, esters, and ethers, whenever the existence of these isomers, esters, ethers, and salts is possible within the specific chemical designation.” In addition, “opium poppy, poppy straw and any compound, mixture, or preparation which contains any quantity of any of the substances referred to this section,” may be considered to be narcotic drugs, as well. 

Potential Penalties for First Time Possession in Indiana 

Generally, most individuals charged with first time possession in Indiana will face low-level criminal charges; often either a Class B or Class A misdemeanor. Under the Indiana sentencing guidelines, the potential penalties for convictions of these classifications include:  

  • Class B Misdemeanor: 0-180 days in prison and a fine of up to $1,000 
  • Class A Misdemeanor: 0-365 days in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 

In addition, under Indiana Code 35-48-4-12, a person with no prior drug-related convictions who pleads guilty to a misdemeanor offense of possession of cannabis, hashish, or smokable hemp may be placed in the custody of the court and have certain conditions placed upon them by the court. If the person fulfills these conditions, the court shall dismiss the charges against the person; but if the person violates the conditions, the court may enter a judgment of conviction.  

On the other hand, individuals who are charged with first time possession in Indiana for less than five grams of narcotic drugs, cocaine, or methamphetamine face much more serious potential penalties. Under the Indiana sentencing guidelines, a person convicted of a Level 6 felony in Indiana could be sentenced to up to 2.5 years in prison and incur fines of up to $10,000.  

It’s important to note, however, that Indiana law does provide some relief to individuals who were charged with or convicted of possessing a narcotic drug following the administration of an overdose intervention drug (like Narcan) for acute opioid overdose. Under Indiana Code 35-48-4-12.5, a person charged under these circumstances is entitled to be enrolled in either a forensic diversion program; a pretrial diversion program; or another county program for the treatment of addictive disorder; provided that the appropriate program is available in the county; the person is eligible for such program; and/or placement in the program is appropriate given the person’s criminal history.  

Possibility of Drug Court in Indiana 

When a person is arrested for first time possession in Indiana, they may be able to request adjudication in one of Indiana’s drug courts. If this request is granted, the process of handling their criminal matter is much different. For instance, when a person is charged with possession and goes through the typical criminal justice process, the prosecuting attorney will seek to prove that, beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant committed a crime. If the defendant is then convicted, or pleads guilty to the crime, they’ll face criminal penalties. If the case is adjudicated in drug court, however, the aim is not to prove the defendant guilty or sentence them with harsh criminal penalties. Instead, the goal is to help rehabilitate the person and address any underlying issues that led to their drug crime arrest.  

When a person’s first time possession case is handled by an Indiana drug court, the process will be overseen by judges and court employees; and may involve drug or alcohol addiction treatment. This could include inpatient rehabilitation services or outpatient therapy, or it could include participation in certain educational programs aimed at helping the individual make better decisions about their life and overall health. In addition, a person going through drug court typically must submit to randomized drug and alcohol testing and complete a handful of other requirements set forth by the presiding judge.  

Generally, if a person completes the program to the satisfaction of the court, they’ll be able to forgo having a criminal conviction on their record. They’ll also be able to avoid facing the associated penalties that accompanied their original charges.  

As of 2024, approximately fifty-five circuit, superior, and city courts in Indiana have court-administered drug and alcohol programs. According to the 2024 Indiana Court Alcohol and Drug Program directory, these types of programs are available in the following counties: Allen, Bartholomew, Boone, Cass, Clark, Dearborn, DeKalb, Delaware, Fulton, Gibson, Grant, Greene, Hamilton, Hancock, Harrison, Hendricks, Henry, Jackson, Johnson, Knox, LaGrange, Lake, LaPorte, Lawrence, Marion, Marshall, Miami, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Noble, Orange, Porter, Putnam, Scott, Shelby, St. Joseph, Steuben, Tippecanoe, Vanderburgh, Wabash, Warrick, Washington, White, and Whitley. 

Indiana Drug Crimes: Know Your Constitutional Rights 

Being arrested for a first-time possession charge in Indiana can be daunting. However, understanding your constitutional rights can provide you with a layer of protection that is paramount to a fair process. In Indiana, like elsewhere in the United States, the Fourth and Fifth Amendments play a critical role in safeguarding individuals against undue incursions by the state. 

Under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution you are protected against unreasonable searches and seizures. This means law enforcement must have either probable cause or a search warrant to search you or your property. This amendment is your shield against arbitrary invasions of your privacy. It encompasses various scenarios, including the exclusionary rule, which can bar the use of evidence obtained in violation of your constitutional rights. Specific conditions for issuing search warrants, the legitimacy of consent searches, vehicular searches, and the parameters of Terry stops (brief detentions and pat-downs for weapons) are all governed by this amendment. 

The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides you with the right to remain silent, a fundamental aspect of the criminal process designed to prevent self-incrimination. During drug possession cases, this right empowers you to refuse to answer questions or make statements that could be used against you in court. Exercising this right is particularly important during police interrogations or any encounters with law enforcement. 

When these two amendments are invoked together, they form a powerful defense for those accused of first time drug possession in Indiana. Protection against unreasonable searches ensures that any invasion of your personal space and belongings is legally justified, while the right to remain silent serves as a safeguard against coercive tactics that may lead to self-incrimination. 

It is essential for individuals facing drug charges to fully comprehend these rights and to assert them confidently. Being aware that you have the right to refuse a search without a warrant or to not speak to the police without legal counsel can significantly impact the outcome of your case. 

Remember, in any drug-related encounter with law enforcement in Indiana, your constitutional rights are your legal armor. Ensuring that these rights are respected and upheld during legal proceedings and interactions with the law is not just important—it is your American guarantee. 

Looking for a First Time Possession Lawyer in Indiana? 

If you’ve just been arrested and/or charged first time possession in Indiana, you’ll want to hire the best possible drug attorney in Indianapolis. This will ensure that everything is being done to minimize your potential penalties or to have the criminal charges placed against you dismissed, altogether.  

If you’re in need of an aggressive, experienced Indiana drug crime defense lawyer, look no further than the Indianapolis law office of Keffer Hirschauer LLP. Our firm was founded by two former deputy prosecutors, Bradley Keffer and Tom Hirschauer III, who have both prosecuted AND defended first time possession charges in the past. This means they possess valuable insight into how the prosecution may approach the case, and how it might be handled by the court.  

So, if you’re a first-time offender who hopes to avoid the tremendous burden of a criminal record, contact our office today 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free case consultation. Our firm would gladly represent you in this matter and would work tirelessly to protect both you and your future.  

Charged with First Time Possession in Indiana?
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Charged with First Time Possession in Indiana?
This article discusses the laws and penalties for first time drug possession in Indiana.
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Keffer Hirschauer LLP

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