Missouri law makes it illegal to manufacture, possess, or deliver an imitation controlled substance. Manufacture, RSMo 579.050, and delivery, RSMo 579.080, are class E felonies and possession of an imitation controlled substance, RSMo 579.075, is a class A misdemeanor. The offenses are similar to those for controlled substances in that they must be committed knowingly, as will be discussed below, but they differ in that there are no enhanced punishments for larger amounts or for committing the offense in a protected location such as a school or public housing.
What Is an Imitation Controlled Substance?
An imitation controlled substance is defined by RSMo 195.010(23) as any substance that is not a controlled substance but which by its appearance or by representations made would lead a reasonable person to believe that it is a controlled substance. In other words, a legal substance like flour or sugar that is made to look like illegal drugs or which someone says is illegal drugs is an imitation controlled substance. The statute helpfully includes a list of factors to consider when attempting to determine if something is an imitation controlled substance. These include:
- Statements made about the nature, use, or effects of the substance.
- How the substance is packaged.
- Any prior convictions for drugs or fraud by the owner of the substance.
- The proximity of the substance to actual illegal drugs.
- How much the substance is being sold for.
How to Fight an Imitation Controlled Substance Charge
Imitation controlled substance charges are contested with methods similar to regular drug charges. Possession is discussed in more detail here, but the important thing to keep in mind is that the state must prove that there was conscious, knowing possession of the substance. This is especially important in constructive possession cases where the substance was not found directly under someone's control. An experienced defense attorney knows how to dispute law enforcement efforts to prove possession.
Imitation controlled substance charges must be based on a valid, legal search. Police must have a reason to search someone and they must articulate that reason in their reports. Seemingly minor details can be important, and a good criminal lawyer will closely examine all the facts presented and interview their client with an eye towards finding law enforcement mistakes that can lead to a favorable outcome.
The most important action you can take to fight an imitation controlled substance charge is to hire an experienced, competent criminal defense attorney like Ruth Beerup to represent you. She has been protecting the rights of those charged with crimes in the St. Charles and St. Louis area for decades and can protect yours too. She is easy to talk to and known for explaining every step of the process clearly and compassionately. Give her a call today.