What Is Felony Possession?

Individuals charged with a felony possession may face arrest.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 24 June 2014
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Felony possession is a criminal activity characterized by possessing something that is banned or restricted under laws that subject people to severe penalties. Controlled substances, certain types of weapons, and stolen goods can all be involved in felony possession cases. Someone accused of felony possession can either plead guilty and accept sentencing from a judge, or choose to move forward and contest the charges in court.

Possession is a somewhat slippery concept under the law. Being in physical custody of something is a form of possession, as is having reasonable control over an item and the intent to possess the item. Someone holding or carrying drugs would be considered in possession, and likewise a person with stolen goods in the trunk of a car or in a room of a home would be in possession.

Possession of certain items is criminalized due to concerns about public safety. Thus, ownership of some types of weapons, illegal drugs, or controlled drugs without a prescription are all illegal. Possession can also be criminalized in certain circumstances while not being banned outright. In the United States, for example, felons are not allowed to own firearms, even if the firearms themselves are legal with a permit.


Definitions in legislation determine whether something is considered felony or misdemeanor possession. The law may dictate that possession of small amounts of drugs or stolen goods of low value is a misdemeanor, meaning that if convicted, the penalties will be much lower. For felony classifications, the law may also distinguish between different types of felony possession on the basis of the amount or value of goods in someone's possession. Different classes of felony can come with different penalties.

Someone charged with felony possession can also face other charges. Intent to sell may be used as another charge in cases where it is clear that someone is not holding something for personal use. For people on probation, violation of probation charges may be filed in possession cases.

People charged with misdemeanor or felony possession should consult a criminal lawyer. These legal specialists can provide advice and assistance throughout the legal process. In many regions of the world, people are entitled to a lawyer by law and can refuse to answer questions without an attorney present. Whether one is a citizen or a visitor, it is advisable to get familiar with the laws of the land to become familiar with the procedures that happen at arrests and the rights available to the accused.


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