Possession of Drugs Solicitors

At JD Spicer Zeb Solicitors, our criminal defence lawyers have advised and represented a wide range of clients facing possession of drugs charges. Offering the benefit of our specialist expertise in drug possession cases, we expertly guide you through all stages of criminal proceedings, ensuring your legal rights stay protected and that you are able to secure the best available outcome. 

With a wide range of languages spoken across our criminal defence team, we are able to provide clear, effective legal advice no matter your background. We have built a strong track record of success for our clients facing even the most complex and serious possession of drugs charges, with many of our clients coming to us via recommendations from previous clients.

  • Have you or someone close to you been arrested for possession of drugs?
  • Are you required to attend a police station by appointment?
  • Have you been released on bail to return to the police station?
  • Have you been charged with possession of drugs?
  • Have you received a postal summons or requisition?

For a free initial consultation on your legal position and the available options, contact our local offices in LondonBirmingham or Manchester.

Need immediate legal support? Our accredited Police Station Representatives are available 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Please use the emergency numbers listed at the top of the page for on-the-spot specialist legal representation for possession of drugs charges.

Drug offences are taken extremely seriously by criminal authorities in the UK.  Should you be caught in possession of a classified drug, the consequences can be severe. JD Spicer Zeb Solicitors have over forty years’ experience acting in some of England and Wales’s most high-profile criminal cases.

If you have been charged with possession of a controlled drug, you can contact us 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Our law firm is Lexcel accredited, meaning we meet the highest levels of good management and customer care set by the Law Society of England and Wales.  In addition, we were awarded the Law Society Excellence in Practice Management Award in 2012.  Our expert team speaks multiple languages and we have approved external interpreters who can assist us if required.

Not only can we represent you in the Magistrates’ Court or Crown Court, but we can also provide 24-hour police station representation.  Remember, anything you say or do can play a decisive role in the outcome of your criminal matter, therefore it is crucial you get immediate professional advice and support as soon as possible following arrest.

If you are convicted, or admit the offence, we will mitigate on your behalf at court so that you can receive the lowest penalty possible. We will obtain medical reports on your behalf where required and also assist so that you can put forward character references where required. We will also take your instructions and will argue your case before the court so that you receive the best representation. 

We can sometime request that the case is sent back to the police station for a caution where the police should have exercised this option. This applies where you do not have a record and generally no previous cautions. We will guide you.

What is the law around possession of drugs?

Under section 5 of the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA) 1971, it is a criminal offence for a person to have a controlled drug in their possession.  To gain a conviction, the Prosecution must prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that:

  • the substance in question is a controlled drug,
  • it was in the defendant’s custody or control, and
  • the defendant knew, or could have reasonably known, of the existence of the drug

Under section 37(3) of the MDA 1971, possession can also include contexts whereby the drugs are in the custody of another person but subject to the defendant’s control.

What is the difference between a Class A, B, and C drug?

In the UK controlled drugs are classified as class A, B, or C based on the potential harm the particular drug can cause. 

  • Examples of a class A drug include: Crack cocaine, cocaine, ecstasy (MDMA), heroin, LSD, magic mushrooms, methadone, and methamphetamine (crystal meth).
  • Examples of a class B drug include: Amphetamines, barbiturates, cannabis, codeine, methylphenidate (Ritalin), synthetic cannabinoids, synthetic cathinones (e.g. mephedrone), and ketamine.
  • Examples of a class C drug include: Anabolic steroids, benzodiazepines (diazepam), gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB), gamma-butyrolactone (GBL), piperazines (BZP), and khat.

What are my rights if I am arrested for drug possession?

If you are caught in possession of a controlled drug you may be arrested and taken to a police station for questioning.  You do not have to answer any questions, and the police are required to caution you by using the words:

“You do not have to say anything. But it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court.  Anything you do say may be given in evidence.”

Never answer any questions without a Solicitor present.

At the time of arrest, the police must also explain why you are being arrested and the crime they believe you have committed.

After the interview, the police will either give you a caution, meaning you are free to leave and will not be fined, or you will be charged with drug possession and released on bail.  A date will be set for your court appearance.

Will I be tried in the Magistrates’ Court or the Crown Court?

The offence of being found in possession of a controlled drug is triable either way – which means it can be tried in either the Magistrates’ Court or Crown Court.  All criminal cases start off in the Magistrates’ Court.  The Magistrates will decide whether your case should remain in the Magistrates’ Court or, having deemed your matter too complex, be moved to the Crown Court.  Should the Magistrates decide the case can be tried in the Magistrates’ Court, you can elect to have it moved to the Crown Court so you can be tried by a jury. 

Our experienced Solicitors can advise you of the best court to have your case heard in.

Can I go to prison if I am convicted of being in possession of a controlled drug?

It is possible to be sent to prison if convicted of being in possession of a controlled drug, although this is unlikely if it is your first offence and you had a small amount of drugs on your person. 

The sentencing of drug offences is governed by the Sentencing Council’s Definitive Guideline for Drug Offences.  If it is your first offence, the Court can give you an absolute or conditional discharge.  An absolute discharge means you will not receive a fine, but you will still have a criminal record.  A conditional discharge means that if you are convicted of another offence within a certain time (normally 12 or 18 months), the Court can sentence you for both offences.

The maximum sentences for drug possession are as follows:

Class Maximum Sentence
A Up to 7 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both
B Up to 5 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both
C Up to 2 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both

If you are dependent on drugs, we can ask the Court for an adjournment before sentence is passed.  We will then have a pre-sentence report prepared to see whether a community order with a drug rehabilitation requirement is a more appropriate solution than a fine or custodial term.

What are the defences to being found in possession of a controlled drug?

Most of our clients are generated from referrals.  This is because we have an in-depth understanding of criminal law and build robust defence cases for our clients.

If you are charged with being in possession of a controlled drug, there are several defences available.  The most common defence is you did not know, nor suspect, nor have reason to suspect that you did, in fact, have a controlled drug in your possession.  Alternatively, a defence is available if you did not realise, nor have cause to believe the substance you know to be in your possession was, in fact, a controlled substance.

Although rarely used, it is a defence under the Misuse of Drugs if you can show you took possession of the drug to prevent another person committing an offence.  To be successful in this defence, you must show you made every effort to destroy the drug or hand it over to the authorities as soon as possible.

What if the drugs have been ‘planted’?

If you are found in possession of a container containing drugs, there is a strong presumption that you are also in possession of its contents.  However, if the item has been planted or you believe the container holds something completely different from what it actually is, you may have a defence. 

In Warner v Metropolitan Police Commissioner [1968] 2 All ER 356, Lord Wilberforce emphasised that cases involving drug possession would turn on their facts and the jury needed to consider:

  • how and when the container was received
  • did the defendant have the opportunity to discover the true contents
  • how much access did the defendant have to the vessel

If you believe drugs have been planted on you by another, it is crucial you contact our team immediately, so we can find out the facts of the situation and build a strong defence case.

Am I allowed to have cannabis in my possession for medical purposes?

Following the public outcry over the case of Billy Caldwell, a 12-year-old epilepsy patient, whose life-saving cannabinoid products were confiscated, leading to terrible pain and suffering, the government allowed medical cannabis to be prescribed from 1 November 2018.

Doctors who can prescribe cannabis as a medical treatment are listed on the General Medical Council's specialist register.  To be legally in possession of medical cannabis, you will need to have been prescribed the drug by one of the approved doctors to treat your condition.

Contact our criminal law defence solicitors today

For urgent specialist advice, immediate representation or to speak to us confidentially about any criminal matter, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our dedicated team of criminal defence lawyers in London, Birmingham, and Manchester by telephone:

  • City of London: 0207 624 7771 - our senior Solicitors and Partners can meet by appointment in the City.
  • Brent & Camden London Office: 020 7624 7771
  • Manchester Office: 0161 835 1638
  • Birmingham Office: 0121 614 3333

Or email:

Alternatively, you can fill out our quick online enquiry form, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

In Urgent Cases

For immediate representation and advice, you can contact our Emergency Number: 07836 577 556, and we will provide you with the urgent assistance you need.


  • Umar Zeb
      • Umar Zeb
      • Senior Partner - Head of Private Client Crime
      • 020 7624 7771
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  • Lisa Nicol
      • Lisa Nicol
      • Senior Partner - Head of Crime & Serious Cases
      • 020 7644 0729
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  • James O'Donnell
      • 020 7644 0742
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  • Sanjay Cholera
      • 020 7651 0850
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  • Pretesh Chauhan
      • 0121 614 3333
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  • Peter Mulhearn
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  • John Geraghty
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  • Danny Parkash
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  • Mimma Sabato
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  • Richard Souper
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  • Malik Aldeiri
      • 020 7644 0721
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  • Sandra Cunningham
      • 0161 835 1638
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  • Samuel Oduntan
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  • Panama Begum
      • 0121 614 3333
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  • Barry Linnane
      • 020 7651 0850
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  • Stuart Lloyd
      • 020 7624 7771
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  • Robert Wong
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