Justia Lawyer Rating
Avvo Client's Choice Award 2019 - Allan F. Friedman
Avvo Client's Choice Award 2017 - Allan F. Friedman
Top Contributor Award 2017 - Allan F. Friedman
Avvo Rating badge 10.0 - Allan F. Friedman
Elite Lawyer badge - Allan Friedman
10 Best attorney badge
BBB badge
CTLA badge
STAMFORD Chamber of Commerce badge
Connecticut Bar Association badge

C.G.S. § 21a-279– Penalty for Illegal Possession of a Controlled Substance

Possession of a Controlled Substance - Generally

Controlled Substance The Connecticut legislature has continued to recognize the devastation that drugs and drug addiction has caused in society. About 150 people die every day in America from drug overdoses. As a result, Connecticut has continued to have laws that criminalize the possession of controlled substances. Perhaps the most frequently charged drug crime in Connecticut is the possession of a controlled substance under Connecticut General Statutes § 21a-279. In 2015, the legislature significantly lowered the penalties for simple possession of controlled substances and narcotics to a misdemeanor level offense where previously it was a felony.

Controlled substance includes many substances including prescription medication and other substances listed as controlled substances or designed as depressant or stimulant drugs pursuant to the federal food and drug laws.

Some common controlled substances include:

  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana
  • Heroin
  • Fentanyl
  • LSD
  • Meth
  • Hash
  • Prescription painkillers (without a prescription and not in the original container)
  • Other hallucinogens
Elements of the Offense Which Must be Established by the State's Attorney

To be convicted of possession of a controlled substance in violation of Connecticut General Statutes § 21a-279, the state's attorney has to prove the following elements of the crime:

1. The defendant possesses or has under his control any quantity of a controlled substance (except less than one-half ounce of marijuana)


A man was driving his car and pulled over for a traffic infraction because he has illegal window tints. The police officer notices that the man has a plastic bag of white powder in his center console. The officer field tests the powder, and it tests positive for cocaine. The man could be convicted for possession of a controlled substance in violation of Connecticut General Statutes § 21a-279.

A woman is invited to a party at a friend's house. About ten people are attending the party. While she is at the party, the police barge in and exercise a search warrant to search the premises for illegal drugs. The police discover a bag of marijuana located in the living room where the ten people who were attending the party were located. None of the individuals who were attending the party or the homeowner and host wants to claim ownership of the marijuana, so the police arrest everyone for possession of a controlled substance in violation of Connecticut General Statutes § 21a-279. The woman could not be convicted because, under these facts, the state could not prove that she had constructive possession of the marijuana. The woman was just a guest as a party and did not exercise any dominion or control over the premises.

Related Offenses

Connecticut General Statutes § 21a-279a - Simple Possession of Marijuana

Connecticut General Statutes § 21a-267(d) - Drug Paraphernalia

Connecticut General Statutes § 21a-277(a) - Possession with Intent to Sell

Defenses to Possession of a Controlled Substance Charges

In many situations, people are charged with possession of a controlled substance who are in groups. When, for example, the drugs are found in a motor vehicle, it can be difficult for the state to prove that a passenger has constructive possession of the controlled substance. Similarly, when drugs are found in a home with multiple occupants, the issue of possession is often a vital issue in the case. You can not be convicted for possession of drugs that were present in a home that you were merely visiting. It is essential to review the specific facts of your case with a Connecticut drug crimes lawyer to determine the best defense alternatives for your situation.

The statute provides an exemption for anyone that is assisting someone or is themselves seeking medical attention related to an overdose for any intoxicating liquor or substance. You can not be prosecuted for possession of a controlled substance when you are seeking medical treatment for a drug overdose.

Our firm is committed to exploring drug treatment alternatives instead of criminal prosecution. The pretrial drug education and community service program is one such alternative diversionary program that would lead to the dismissal of controlled substance charges and no criminal record. We are determined to explore every possible alternative to have drug possession charges nolled or dismissed without having to participate in the drug education program because the program is costly and requires a significant investment of time and effort.

Courts are permitted to order substance abuse treatment programs for repeat offenders who have prior convictions. It is important to have an experienced advocate on your behalf to convince the court that you are drug dependent and should be eligible to enter a drug treatment program.

An experienced Connecticut drug crimes lawyer will usually be able to get a charge for possession of narcotics dropped or dismissed. It is essential to never plead guilty to a drug possession offense as a record for a conviction can have significant adverse consequences for your ability to seek employment and housing in the future.


Possession of a controlled substance in violation of C.G.S. § 21a-279 is a Class A misdemeanor, for which you could be sentenced up to one year in jail and ordered to pay a fine of up to $1,000.

Anyone who has two previous convictions for possession of a controlled substance could be charged as a persistent offender for possession of a controlled substance pursuant to C.G.S. § 53a-40(n), which is a Class E felony, for which you could be sentenced for up to three years in jail and ordered to pay a fine of up to $3,500.

Call Narcotics and Controlled Substance Possession Lawyer Allan F. Friedman!

Attorney Allan F. Friedman firmly believes that everyone is presumed innocent and has the right to a fair trial and effective defense. This is why we are determined to provide all our clients with five-star customer service and exceptional representation, even when faced with the most stressful and trying circumstances. If you have been arrested for possession of a controlled substance in violation of Connecticut General Statutes § 21a-279, contact our Stamford criminal law firm today at (203) 357-5555, or you can contact us online for a prompt response.

Client Reviews
Attorney Friedman is the best!! He was extremely helpful and put me at ease with staying on top of my case leaving me with little to worry about. He is hardworking and was extremely flexible with my work schedule in setting up appointments and phone calls. His worth ethic, compassion, and fair price point really set him apart! Raul M.
Not only does Allan give exceptional legal advice, but he also takes the time to get to know his clients on an individual level. He is always available to answer questions, and he is truly dedicated to achieving a fair outcome in each case he is presented with. Knowledgeable, professional & compassionate. Highly recommend! Jennifer S.
Allan has been my personal attorney for over 10 years. He is creative, had working, dedicated, tenacious, and incredibly reliable. I highly recommend him, please don’t hesitate to contact him for service. George K.
I would highly recommend Attorney Allan F. Friedman to anyone seeking counsel in Connecticut. He represented our family's interests in a very professional, fair and effective way. I would give him my highest endorsement. Greg S.
Absolutely Exceptional Attorney. I give Allan a 10 out of 5 - he is that good and far beyond excellent!!! Allan handled my traffic matter with the highest level of professionalism, empathy and efficiency that anyone could ever ask for… Jose
This man literally saved my life! I had a criminal mischief and domestic charge along with a protective order put on me. Atty Friedman successfully got me into the required needed to have these charges dropped. Then came the felony protective order violation...Long story short I walked out of court today with all my charges nolled. Anonymous