Washington DC Drug Possession Attorney

Across the nation, prosecutors and drug enforcement agents have worked to take a hard line against drugs. From the “Just Say No” slogan of the 1980’s to law enforcement education programs such as DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), many people look to awareness to solve drug problems.

Unfortunately, more are simply interested in punitive measures, with punishments that are much more severe than the crime. For this reason, it is imperative that those charged with drug possession in Washington DC seek legal representation from an experienced drug lawyer. The situation is even more serious if you have been charged with drug distribution or possession with intent.

Drug Possession Defense in DC

In order to prove guilt in a DC drug possession case, prosecutors must establish that the defendant knowingly possessed a controlled substance. That means that they must provide evidence that:

  • The substance in question was, in fact, a controlled substance.
  • The defendant was in possession of the substance.
  • The defendant knew that he or she was in possession of an illegal or illegally obtained drug.

Possession can be “actual” or “constructive,” which means that a person may be charged with possession even if the drug was not actually on his or her person.

Controlled substances in DC can refer to any type of illicit narcotic or illegally obtained prescription drug. DC drug lawyers have a number of strategies to successfully defend against drug possession charges, including arguing for the suppression of illegally obtained evidence and the possible negotiation of deferred sentencing for first offenders. To find out how a DC drug possession lawyer can help your case, call attorney Shawn Sukumar for a free consultation.

Drug Paraphernalia Charges

Any object can be considered drug paraphernalia if it’s used for injecting, inhaling, or ingesting any controlled substance into a person’s body. Possession of drug paraphernalia in DC is punishable by 30 days in jail, a $250 fine, or both.

A police officer can consider lots of different circumstances that might support a determination that an item is being used as drug paraphernalia. Some examples include where the item is located in relation to drugs or if there are actually remains of the drug on the item.

Unless a person is found to be in actual possession of paraphernalia, the government may try to prove constructive possession and therefore, constructive possession may arise. If a person is not aware of the presence of the drug paraphernalia, then the elements of constructive possession would not be met and that person would have a defense to the charges.

Marijuana Drug Paraphernalia

Since the law legalizing marijuana has only legalized the possession of 2 ounces or less of marijuana and only for a person who is 21 years of age or older, it is also now legal for a person who’s 21 years of age or older to also possess paraphernalia. This is only if it is intended to be used for 2 ounces or less of marijuana. It is important to note that the paraphernalia allowed can only be used for marijuana. If the paraphernalia is intended to be used for other drugs, such as cocaine or heroin, it is still illegal. For example, you would have a strong argument that cigarette rolling papers were intended to be used for smoking marijuana, but you would have a very weak argument if you were in possession of a syringe and tried to argue it was for marijuana use.

Important Information


The first and most important thing to know about drug possession is that there are many exceptions and rules when it comes to marijuana possession in DC that make the charge different from marijuana possession in Colorado or Washington State, for example. These other states have completely legalized sales and possession and treat marijuana like tobacco. DC has a different way of legalizing personal possession of marijuana. Although personal possession of up to two ounces of marijuana is now legal, it is still illegal to sell marijuana. It is also illegal to consume marijuana in public.

This means a person can still be arrested for smoking or otherwise consuming marijuana in a public area; but not on private property. It is also illegal to transfer marijuana in return for something of value. There are many detailed exceptions to DC marijuana possession, so when a person is not sure whether a certain action is illegal or legal, the best thing to do is to consult with a defense lawyer to get details about exactly what is allowed under DC law.

Prescription Drugs

Another important thing to know about controlled substance possession is that possessing a prescription drug without a valid prescription is treated in the same manner as possessing an illegal drug. This includes possessing expired prescription drugs or possessing very common prescription drugs such as Xanax or Adderall. Possessing these substances without having an updated valid prescription, for legal purposes, is treated the same as possessing cocaine or heroin.

An interesting fact about drug possession prosecution in Washington, DC is that over the years, the DC legislature and courts began treating personal drug possession with fewer amounts of prison or jail time when there is no evidence of large scale distribution or trafficking across state lines.

Benefits of an Attorney

Defense lawyers are aware of different options that may be available for people who have addiction problems. A lawyer can advocate on their client’s behalf and negotiate with prosecutors to have their case resolved through treatment programs that may result in their case being dismissed rather than resolved with a criminal record and possible jail time. It is important to discuss with a lawyer who is familiar with DC options because state to state, these options can be different. Being able to take advantage of some of the more favorable resolution options can be in a client’s best interest.

Shawn Sukumar in His Own Words

Below are several links to question-and-answer pages excerpted from an interview with Shawn Sukumar in which he discusses drug possession cases.

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I Would Recommend Shawn

I was searching for a good attorney to help me out with a legal matter, and found a blog article written by a staff member at Price Benowitz detailing the legal and procedural issues involved. I contacted Price Benowitz and one other firm, but Price Benowitz was much more prompt and helpful in their reply. After visiting Price Benowitz I was put in touch with Shawn, and during our first meeting he made me feel much more comfortable with what was going on and it seemed he was well informed about the issues. I like to be a well-informed consumer and knowing that price Benowitz had not only experience with the issues but a personal history with such cases made me more comfortable with my decision to retain their services. I was very happy with the results of my case. Shawn kept me well informed and answered many questions about the process. He mitigated all risks, and was very knowledgeable about the best ways to control the issues. Shawn was very articulate in court, and he had an excellent rapport with the other court officers. He had a stage presence in the court room that made him stand out amongst the other attorneys present, though he was always concise and professional. I would recommend Shawn for anyone that needs legal assistance in DC. Shawn took the time to take me from place to place and made me feel comfortable throughout my dealings with the DC court system.

Rating: ★★★★★ 5 / 5 stars
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  • Straight Forward and Quick

    I don’t usually get in trouble, but I had a fake ID and was caught with it at a bar. I found the firm through a friend who knew Travis. I initially met with Shawn and it was good… everything got explained in the first meeting. I was really nervous about what was going to […]

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  • I Needed Someone to do This Right

    I was charged in Washington, DC for smoking marijuana outside the 930 club before a concert. It was the first time being charged with possession in DC. The responding officers were ready to let me go, however a senior policeman showed up and made sure that I was arrested. I was released within a couple […]

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