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Important terms for drug charges

The use and distribution of drugs can put people and all those around them in danger. For this reason, those who face drug charges and receive convictions may encounter very stern penalties.

Those facing such charges and seeking to create a good defense must understand the various aspects of the charges themselves. In particular, there are a few important terms that are commonly used in relation to drug charges. 

Controlled substance

There are some prescription drugs that can be beneficial if used in the proper manner and dosage as prescribed by a physician. However, those same drugs can have serious or deadly consequences if used without a prescription or in excess, which is why such acts are illegal. Illegal drugs and prescription medications without a valid prescription are controlled substances. The classification of a product as a controlled substance is crucial to validating the drug charge. 


There are some drugs that are more dangerous than others. As such, the substances that are more dangerous carry greater penalties. The Pennsylvania schedule of controlled substances provides a detailed description of the five schedules and the drugs that each one contains. Knowing what category a charge fits into can help in determining the penalties that the defendant may face.


Possession occurs when a person has a controlled substance within the realm of his or her control. It is important to understand that this does not only include substances that the person carries, but also any substances in their belongings or other areas they control. For example, drugs found in someone's personal locker would be in that person's possession, even if the person were in another location.

These are a few key terms to look for and understand; however, it is important to understand other aspects of the charge as well. For more information and a deeper understanding, it is a good idea to review the drug law itself and consider consulting with a knowledgeable attorney.

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