All states regulate and control the possession for personal use of controlled dangerous substances (CDS), though each differs in its exact definition of CDS and the penalties for possession. Alabama considers not only well-known drugs like marijuana, heroin, and cocaine to be controlled substances, but also the compounds used to manufacture them. Possessing drug paraphernalia, such as pipes, is also illegal.
Alabama divides its CDS into five “schedules,” according to their degree of dangerousness:
Some CDS such as codeine, a common pain medication, may be possessed legally so long as the holder has a valid prescription.
This article concerns possession for personal use only. Separate punishments apply to possession for sale or for manufacture of controlled substances. For information about possession of controlled substances for sale, see Sale of a Controlled Substance in Alabama.
In Alabama, the criminal penalties depend on what type of CDS a person is convicted of possessing and whether the individual has a prior conviction.
Possession of marijuana for personal use (possession in the second-degree) is a Class A misdemeanor. Class A misdemeanors are punishable by no more than one year served in either the county jail or in hard labor to the county. For more detail, see Possession of Marijuana in Alabama.
Possession of imitation CDS is a Class C misdemeanor. Class C misdemeanors are punishable by no more than three months in jail.
The court may also impose a fine for misdemeanor convictions. Class A misdemeanors can result in fines of up to $6,000. Fines for Class C misdemeanors can be no more than $500. (Alabama Code 13A-5-7, 5-12.)
Class C felonies are punishable by one to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $15,000. Class C felony possessions include:
Alabama imposes increasingly harsh penalties on individuals with prior felony convictions.
One prior felony conviction:
Two prior felony convictions:
Three prior felony convictions:
(Alabama Code Section 13A-5-9.)
Convictions for CDS possession can result in stiff financial penalties and extended incarceration. If you are convicted of possession and are charged later for the same or similar offense, the subsequent charge and penalties may be increased due to your prior conviction. Only an attorney who specializes in drug defense can realistically assess the strength of the case against you and your chances for a dismissal, a lesser charge, a plea bargain, or a favorable outcome if you go to trial.