The Missouri legislature amended the criminal code in the 2016 legislative session, making broad changes to the existing criminal code. Among the changes, which became effective January 1, 2017, was the re-classification of certain possession of controlled substance offenses. Common possession offenses include methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and non-prescribed prescription drugs.
In Missouri, the crime of possession of a controlled substance, under §579.015.1 RSMo., requires the government to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the accused knowingly possessed the controlled substance, and that it was not authorized under Chapter 195. Chapter 195 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri is the Narcotic Drug Act, which defines and promulgates the methods and rules for the legal administration of narcotics. In other words, without a prescription, knowingly possessing any controlled substance is a crime in Missouri.
The government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person “knowingly” possessed the controlled substance. By definition, pursuant to §562.011 RSMo., “knowingly” requires the possession to be a voluntary act, or an omission to perform an act of which the defendant was physically capable of performing. The government must also prove that the defendant was “aware of his or her control for a sufficient time to have enabled him or her to dispose of it or terminate his or her control.”
If a citizen is accused of violating the statute for possession of a controlled substance, the legislature has classified this offense as a Class D Felony, unless the offense is for 35 grams or less of marijuana or a synthetic cannabinoid. Prior to the 2017 law, this offense was a Class C Felony. The legislature changed the classification down one level, however, the range of punishment for a Class D Felony was increased from “up to 4 years in prison” to “up to 7 years in prison”.
The legislature also re-classified possession of not more than 10 grams of marijuana as a Class D Misdemeanor, so long as the accused has not been found guilty of any related controlled substance offense.
Possessing more than 10 grams, but less than 35 grams is still classified as a Class A Misdemeanor, which continues to carry a maximum penalty of one year in the county jail, and/or, however, the maximum fine increased from $1,000 under the prior law to $2,000.
If you have been charged with a drug offense in Kansas City, contact us for help.