What is a Possession Arrest?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 30 January 2020
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A possession arrest is an arrest on suspicion of possession of illegal materials. This type of arrest may be conducted when these materials are witnessed by a law enforcement officer or when a law enforcement officer has reason to suspect that someone is in possession of something which is not legal. Drug possession is a common cause for a possession arrest but people can also be arrested on suspicion of having illegal weapons, dangerous materials, and a wide variety of other items.

When someone is arrested for possession, he or she will be booked at a police facility. Identifying information will be noted, photographs and fingerprints will be taken for the record, and the arrestee will be searched by law enforcement for evidence. The police may also conduct an interview with a goal of learning more about the situation.

Usually, people are released on bail after a possession arrest. In this case, a judge rules that the accused can pay to be released, with the funds being returned when the accused comes back to court to face charges. If the accused does not report to court the bail is forfeit and the accused can be arrested on a bench warrant and compelled to appear in court.


After a possession arrest, the accused will have to face charges in court. Some people may opt to plead guilty or to negotiate a plea deal, in which they accept punishment without having the case tried in court. In situations where the facts of the case are not in dispute, it can be advantageous to simply plead guilty, rather than contesting in court. In other situations, the case is heard in court with the assistance of evidence and testimony and the court determines whether or not the person is guilty of possession.

Possession of illegal substances on its own is not legal and it can be combined with an intent charge, as in the case of possession with intent to distribute, for example. In these cases, the person will be punished more severely when convicted because of the fact that there are multiple counts.

In some regions of the world, drug possession in particular is very severely punished. If a possession arrest leads to a conviction the convict may face death, an extended prison term, or corporal punishment such as caning. Some nations have protested the very strict drug laws found in some regions of the world, arguing that the statutes should be relaxed.



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