Possession of a Controlled Substance in Indiana

Learn how Indiana classifies and punishes drug possession crimes.

By , Attorney · Mitchell Hamline School of Law
Updated January 09, 2024

Illegal possession of a controlled substance can result in misdemeanor or felony drug charges in Indiana. This article reviews Indiana's drug classifications and penalties for illegal possession for personal use. Harsher penalties apply to drug sales, manufacturing, and trafficking offenses.

How Indiana Classifies Controlled Substances

Indiana divides controlled substances into five schedules—Schedules I to V. Schedule I drugs are considered the most dangerous and highly addictive, while Schedule V drugs are the least dangerous and the least addictive. Below are some examples of drugs placed into each schedule.

Schedule I includes drugs such as heroin, MDMA, LSD, mescaline, marijuana, and psilocybin.

Schedule II includes drugs such as opium, codeine, morphine, oxycodone, cocaine, fentanyl, carfentanil, and meth.

Schedule III includes drugs such as ketamine, pentobarbital, and anabolic steroids.

Schedule IV includes drugs such as barbital, diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), and flunitrazepam (Rohypnol).

Schedule V drugs include cough suppressants and other therapeutic medicines containing low doses of codeine or other narcotics.

(Ind. Code §§ 35-48-2-4, 35-48-2-6, 35-48-2-8, 35-48-2-10, 35-48-2-12 (2024).)

How Indiana Punishes Drug Possession Crimes

A person convicted of possession of a controlled substance faces penalties based on the type and amount of drug possessed, along with whether any enhancing circumstances exist. Possession crimes (described below) range from a Class C misdemeanor to a Level 3 felony.

The following penalties are associated with possession crimes.

  • Class C misdemeanor. Punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
  • Class B misdemeanor. Punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
  • Class A misdemeanor. Punishable by up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
  • Level 6 felony; wobbler. Punishable by 6 months to 2 ½ years in prison; advisory sentence of one year. In some circumstances, the court may enter a judgment for a Class A misdemeanor.
  • Level 5 felony. Punishable by 1 to 6 years in prison; advisory sentence of 3 years.
  • Level 4 felony. Punishable by 2 to 12 years in prison; advisory sentence of 6 years.
  • Level 3 felony. Punishable by 3 to 16 years in prison; advisory sentence of 9 years.

All felonies carry a possible $10,000 fine as well.

(Ind. Code §§ 35-50-2-4 to 35-50-2-7; 35-50-3-2 to 35-50-3-3 (2024).)

Penalties for Possession of Cocaine, Schedule I or II Narcotics, and Methamphetamine in Indiana

The unlawful possession of cocaine, Schedule I or II narcotics, and methamphetamine can be punished as a Level 3, 4, 5, or 6 felony, as follows.

  • Level 3 felony: the amount of the drug involved is 28 grams or more.
  • Level 4 felony: the amount of the drug involved is at least 10 grams but less than 28 grams.
  • Level 5 felony: the amount of drug involved is 5 grams or more but less than 10 grams.
  • Level 6 felony: the amount was less than 5 grams.

Level 4, 5, and 6 felonies increase by one level if an enhancing circumstance was involved, such as:

  • having a prior conviction for dealing with (selling) a controlled substance that is not marijuana, hashish, or salvia divinorum
  • committing the offense while in possession of a firearm
  • committing the offense on a school bus, in the presence of a child, or in a correctional facility, or
  • committing the offense within 500 feet of school property or a public park or within 100 feet of a substance abuse rehabilitation facility.

(Ind. Code §§ 35-48-1-16.5, 35-48-4-6, 35-48-4-6.1 (2024).)

Penalties for Possession of Other Schedule I to V Drugs in Indiana

The unlawful possession of other controlled substances in Schedules I to V (not listed above and not including marijuana, hashish, hash oil, and saliva) is a Class A misdemeanor. If an enhancing circumstance was involved (see definition above), a Class A misdemeanor bumps up to a Level 6 felony.

(Ind. Code § 35-48-4-7 (2024).)

Penalties for Possession of Marijuana, Hash Oil, Hashish, or Salvia in Indiana

The possession of marijuana, hash oil, hashish, or saliva carries misdemeanor and felony penalties.

Level 6 Felony Possession

A Level 6 felony applies if a person has a prior drug conviction and possesses:

  • 30 grams or more of marijuana, or
  • 5 grams or more of hash oil, hashish, or salvia.

Class A Misdemeanor Possession

A person can be convicted of a Class A misdemeanor if possession involves an amount less than described above and:

  • the person has a prior drug conviction, or
  • the person knew or should have known that, despite labeling indicating the substance contained a low THC hemp extract, the substance was actually marijuana, hash oil, hashish, or salvia.

Class B Misdemeanor Possession

The possession of marijuana, hash oil, hashish, or salvia is a Class B misdemeanor if none of the above factors apply and:

  • the person's possession is knowing or intentional
  • the person grows or cultivates marijuana, or
  • the person fails to destroy marijuana plants that are known to be growing on their property.

First-Time Possession Offenses

If a defendant pleads guilty to misdemeanor possession of marijuana, hashish, hash oil, or salvia, the court can hold off on entering a conviction and instead place the person on supervision with conditions, such as drug counseling. If the defendant successfully completes the conditions, the court will dismiss the charges. If not, the court may enter the conviction and impose a sentence. A conditional dismissal is a one-time opportunity.

(Ind. Code §§ 35-48-4-11 to 5-48-4-12 (2024).)

Penalties for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in Indiana

The possession of drug-related paraphernalia is illegal. Drug paraphernalia includes an instrument, device, or other object used primarily to introduce a controlled substance into the body, test its strength, effectiveness, or purity, or enhance its effect. (Rolling papers are not paraphernalia.) A person who knowingly possesses drug paraphernalia for these intended purposes commits a Class C misdemeanor for a first offense and a Class A misdemeanor for a subsequent offense.

(Ind. Code § 35-48-4-8.3 (2024).)

Talk to an Attorney

If you are charged with drug possession, contact a local criminal defense attorney. Possession charges might seem minor, but a criminal record of drug charges can hurt a person's chances of getting a job or housing. It can also lead to harsher charges in future cases.

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