drug charges in Alabama

I’ve Been Arrested for Drug Possession in Alabama—What Can I Expect Now?

If you’ve been arrested for drug possession in Alabama, your first and most important step is to call an attorney. Alabama laws governing possession of illegal substances are particularly harsh, and the effects, should you receive a conviction, will negatively impact your life forever.

Some drug possession offenses are governed by both Alabama laws and Federal law, which can make the offense even more serious in its implications and consequence.

Alabama Drug Possession—Class C Felony

Each state divides criminal penalties into two primary categories; Misdemeanor and felony. Felonies are the worst potential offenses, in terms of the penalties that can be levied against an individual.

Under Alabama law, there have traditionally been three felony classes, A, B, and C, with A carrying the heaviest penalties. In 2016, a new D class was created; but if you are convicted of illegal drug possession in Alabama, you are typically still sentenced under a Class C Felony. But how you’re sentenced depends on the type of drug, the amount involved, what you were doing at the time of arrest, and even your prior record.

Every felony in Alabama carries at least a one year and one day sentence in state prison. This means you should do everything in your power to never be convicted of a felony crime.

Under the C class designation, the law carries the following potential penalties:

  • A prison sentence of at least one year and one day up to no more than 10 years
  • Fines up to $15,000
  • You also will likely be charged court fees, if convicted.

Note that the courts “Explanation of Rights and Plea of Guilty” form spells out exactly what could happen if more than one Class C Felony accrues on your record:

  • Prior Felonies This offense 
  • No Prior Felonies 
  • One Prior Felony 
  • Two Prior Felonies 
  • Three + Prior Felonies 

Class C Felony 

1 Yr. & 1 Day – 10 Years In State Penitentiary Fine Up To $15,000 

2 – 20 Years
In State Penitentiary Fine Up To $30,000 

10 – 99 Years
In State Penitentiary Fine Up To $60,000 

15 – 99 Years or Life In State Penitentiary Fine Up To $60,000 

But what constitutes a C class illegal substance offense under the law? What drugs fall under these rules?

Possession of a Controlled Substance in Alabama

Alabama drug laws cover possession of illegal substances under the law but also include obtaining or trying to obtain these drugs. For example, if you alter a prescription to try to gain a controlled substance, you can be prosecuted.

Some of the substances that fall into this category include cocaine, crack, ecstasy, heroin, or methamphetamine. But it also covers legal prescription medications such as Adderall, Klonopin, OxyContin, Suboxone, and Xanax.

Possession of marijuana, although still an illegal substance, is covered under a different statute. In Alabama, a first-time possession charge for marijuana, which is far too common, is prosecuted under a Class A misdemeanor, which can include:

  • Asset forfeiture
  • Community Service 
  • Fines of up to $500
  • Probation
  • Up to a year in jail

Note that each state has a drug schedule that places each controlled substance into categories based on its ability to cause addiction or dependency. In Alabama, there are five schedules that cover drugs that have a low potential for abuse to those that are highly addictive. 

But the complexities of Alabama’s drug laws don’t end there. You can be charged for both actual or constructive possession of the controlled substance:

  • Actual drug possession is when the drug is physically on your person, such as in a backpack you’re wearing, a purse, or in your pocket.
  • Constructive possession is when the drugs are within the vicinity, meaning you could easily reach the drugs if you desired them. So, if the drugs are found in your car or your home, or you’re near them at a party, you can still be charged with possession.

But this too is complex, because you can also be charged with drug distribution or trafficking charges based on the volume of drugs you have in your possession and/or the type of alleged criminal conduct you are involved in at the time of your possession. These are typically Class B felonies under the law. Remember, the felony penalty designation can go all the way up to A, which has the harshest penalties.

Finally, a significant complexity and danger, is that the alleged drug conduct may be the subject of federal drug charges and may result in your case being prosecuted in Federal Court pursuant to federal drug charges that in many cases can be more severe and punitive than Alabama state court drug laws.


No matter the charge, being arrested for possession of drugs in Alabama is a terrifying, frustrating, and embarrassing experience and one that can be devastating to your future.

But being charged is one thing; being convicted is something far more detrimental to your life.

How to Fight Back If You’ve Been Charged with Illegal Drug Possession

Contact Coumanis & York immediately at 251-990-3083 (Daphne) or 251.431-7272 (Mobile) if you’ve been arrested on a drug possession charge. We can help. Do not speak to the police other than to ask for your attorney. In these situations, seeking legal counsel is the best advice. Our firm will aggressively fight for your rights and freedom while helping you find your way through the complex nature of the charges against you. Whether the charge is a first offense misdemeanor or a subsequent felony, we can help.

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