Possession of a Controlled Substance in Utah

All states regulate the possession of controlled dangerous substances (CDS), though each differs in its exact definition of CDS and the penalties for illegal possession. Utah classifies not only well-known drugs like marijuana, heroin, and cocaine as CDS, but also the compounds used to manufacture them.

This article discusses the illegal possession of CDS for personal use only. Illegally making or selling CDS carries different penalties. For more information on illegal CDS manufacture and sale, see Sale of Controlled Substances in Utah.

Also, while marijuana is considered a CDS, this article does not cover Utah’s marijuana possession and sale laws. To learn more about that topic, see Utah Marijuana Laws.

How Utah Classifies CDS

Utah divides CDS into five “Schedules”. Schedule I lists the most dangerous drugs, which have a high probability of abuse and addiction, and no recognized medical value. Schedules II, III, IV, and V decrease in dangerousness and probability of abuse, and increase in recognized medical uses.

If you’ve been arrested for illegal CDS possession, you’ll need to consult the Utah Code that lists precisely which drugs fit into each group. Go to the statute (Utah Code Ann. § 58-37-4) and find the substance you're charged with possessing -- it will be listed under one of the five schedules.

Penalties for Possessing CDS

It is illegal in Utah to possess CDS without a valid medical prescription. Penalties vary according to the type and amount of CDS involved in the violation. (Utah Code Ann. § 58-37-8(2).)

Schedule I or II CDS

It is a third degree felony to possess Schedule I or II CDS. Penalties include a fine of up to $5,000, up to ten years in prison, or both. Second and subsequent convictions are second degree felonies, incurring a fine of up to $10,000, at least one (and up to 20) years in prison, or both.

All other CDS

It is a class B misdemeanor to possess all other CDS. Penalties include a fine of up to $1,000, up to one year in jail, or both. Second convictions are class A misdemeanors, incurring a fine of up to $2,500, up to one year in jail, or both. Third and subsequent convictions are third degree felonies, incurring a fine of up to $2,500, up to 18 months in prison, or both.

Violations on Prison Property

Violations that took place on or within jail or prison property incur penalties one degree greater than those applicable to the underlying crime. For example, if the offense would ordinarily be a third degree felony, but was committed on jail property, fines and prison time for a second degree felony would instead apply. (Utah Code Ann. § 58-37-8(2)(e).)

Talk to an Attorney

CDS possession convictions can incur harsh fines and long periods of incarceration. A local lawyer who practices CDS defense will review the facts of your case, explain your options, and advise you of the possible consequences.

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