Drug possession is a serious crime in California. If you’ve been accused of possession, you should secure a skilled attorney right away. They can help represent you and your case in court, and you have a right to use their services to preserve your innocence.

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about drug possession crimes. Read further to learn more about these allegations in the state.

What Qualifies as a Drug Possession Crime?

It’s best to break this question down into two parts.

In this context, what exactly is a “drug?”

When discussing drug crimes, we generally refer to anything that is a “controlled substance.” These are chemicals that can affect your health, mood, mental clarity, decision-making, and so on. Most of us are aware of street drugs like cocaine, crystal meth, and so on. Of course, we also know that these substances are both dangerous and illegal.

Controlled substances also go beyond well-known street drugs. For instance, any medicine that you cannot acquire without a prescription is a controlled substance. You could face criminal charges for buying insulin or heart medicine without direct permission.

There are different “schedules” for controlled substances. The lower the schedule number, the more seriously the government takes a possession charge.

Schedule V drugs, for instance, are on the lowest end of the spectrum. They typically include prescription drugs and some over-the-counter medications. Schedule I drugs, however, include street drugs like heroin, cocaine, and so forth.

What exactly defines “possession?”

Standards vary from state to state. Some are looser with their definition of possession, and some are more rigid. California’s definitions fall a bit in the middle. The definitions are clear, but there is room for interpretation.

California considers you to be in possession of a drug when:

  • You have direct control over the drug.
    It isn’t necessary for the drug to be directly on your body or in your pocket. The police need only to believe that the drugs are yours, and you are in charge of their whereabouts, use, and so on.
  • You are aware of the drugs.
    Ultimately, this standard relies on the authorities’ suspicions. They must prove this is part of the case in court. They can produce evidence such as electronic communications, wire-tapped audio, witness testimony, and so on to support their theories.
  • You are aware that the drug was illegal.
    Once again, police must prove this claim in court. For instance, they may attempt to show that you intentionally moved the product in secret, making it clear that you knew it was forbidden.
  • There is enough of the drug to use.
    Theoretically, this means that you should not be arrested for possession if you have trace amounts of the drug on you. If, for instance, police find a smear of cocaine on your jacket, that shouldn’t result in a possession charge. Of course, prosecutors may attempt to lessen this standard, making arguments that even small amounts are enough to get someone high.

What Are California’s Penalties for Drug Possession Crimes?

“Simple” drug possession is a misdemeanor in the state. It can result in up to 1 year in jail and fines of up to $1,000, along with summary probation. A merciful judge could opt for diversion with a drug program.

California can elevate a drug possession charge to a felony based on several different factors. For instance, the court will consider the drug in question along with how much of that drug they find. A large quantity of a Schedule I drug could be labeled drug trafficking, rather than simple possession. Felony drug possession includes possession with the intent to sell, transportation of drugs, and drug sales.

Felony drug possession penalties are fluid in the state. A sentence will be determined by the severity of the crime. Most alleged offenders will face prison time and fines. Those fines could be higher than those associated with a misdemeanor.

What Are Some Other Penalties You Could Face?

A drug crime can affect your second amendment rights in California. Your ability to buy, sell, own, or carry may be affected.

Drug crimes can affect your immigration status as well. You may face deportation or other related penalties.

Furthermore, drug allegations come with indirect consequences. An arrest or a conviction can appear on your record. This may affect your ability to get a job, rent an apartment, and more.

Still have questions? Our firm is here to help. Call us today at (800) 922-6989 for a free consultation. You can also schedule time with us online.

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