One of the most common types of drug crimes is possession of drug paraphernalia under California Health and Safety Code Section 11364 HS. If you have been arrested and charged, the penalties could have a substantial impact on your life.
Although a drug paraphernalia possession charge may seem like a minor offense, the consequences may be more severe than you thought. Contact a dedicated California drug possession lawyer to learn more about potential defense strategies in your case.
What Is California Health and Safety Code §11364 HS: Possession of Drug Paraphernalia?
Under California Health and Safety Code §11364 states that it is against the law for anyone to be in possession of drug paraphernalia. There are many types of devices, equipment, instruments, and other objects that can be used for consuming, injecting, or smoking controlled substances. Some examples of these items could include:
- Needles or syringes
- Storage bags
This is by no means an exhaustive list of items that are considered drug paraphernalia. If you have been accused of possession of drug paraphernalia, it is important to discuss the specific details of your case so you can understand the severity of the charges against you.
What Happens if You Are Found Guilty Under California Health and Safety Code §11364?
Under California Health and Safety Code §11364, you can face misdemeanor charges for possession of drug paraphernalia conviction. Your sentence could include a maximum of six months in county jail and fines as high as $1,000.
However, these are not the only penalties you could face. Your personal life and career could be turned upside down if you are arrested, charged, and convicted of possession of drug paraphernalia.
Not only could your relationships with family and friends become strange, but you could be facing severe professional consequences, including suspension or revocation of your professional licenses. When your career and future are on the line, it is critical that you take steps to defend yourself against these charges.
Can You Defend Yourself Against Charges Under California Health and Safety Code §11364?
There are several potential ways you could go without challenging the charges against you or otherwise avoiding a conviction under California Health and Safety Code Section 11364. Generally, your options will include entering a pretrial diversion program or plea agreement or defending yourself at trial. Here is more:
Pre-Trial Diversion & Plea Agreements
Many people charged with possession of drug paraphernalia may be eligible for pretrial diversion programs. California offers drug diversion program opportunities to non-violent, first-time drug offenders. If the prosecutor allows you to enter a pretrial diversion program, you will enter a no contest or guilty plea.
You will then need to complete the terms of your program as described in your sentencing. Generally, this will include a term of probation which might include random drug testing, completion of a drug or alcohol treatment program, community service, and other requirements.
Once you complete your program successfully, the judge presiding over your case can then dismiss the charges against you. However, this also means if you fail to complete the terms of your program, you could be ordered to serve a criminal sentence which could include jail or prison time.
Defenses at Trial
In some drug cases, defendants are not eligible for pretrial diversion or plea agreements. When this happens, you will need to be prepared to defend yourself in court. There are many potential defenses that could be used to challenge the charges against you.
Some of the more common defenses against possession of drug paraphernalia charges include:
- The drug paraphernalia in question did not belong to the defendant – If the drug paraphernalia in question was left in an area where other members of your home had access to it, it is reasonable to believe that the drug paraphernalia question was not yours and could have instead belonged to someone else who had access to the area in question.
- The “drug paraphernalia” is not actually drug paraphernalia – It is more common than you might think for everyday items to be considered drug paraphernalia when they are not. Your attorney can argue that the materials and questions were not designed to be used as drug paraphernalia, and you did not use them for such reasons.
- Drug paraphernalia was discovered during an illegal search and seizure – Police must have probable cause before conducting a search and seizure. If law enforcement does not have a warrant, any evidence they obtain during an illegal search and seizure could be dismissed when attempted to use at trial against you, which could result in the possession of drug paraphernalia charges being reduced or dismissed if the state was relying heavily on that evidence to secure your conviction.
- The defendant did not know the item and question was drug paraphernalia – For the prosecutor to obtain a conviction for possession of drug paraphernalia, they must prove that you knew the item was drug paraphernalia. If you are a first-time offender, this may be a viable defense.
These are only a few of the potential defenses that you could use to challenge the possession of drug paraphernalia charges against you under California Penal Code §11364. Your attorney will need to closely evaluate the specific circumstances of your case to determine how to best approach your defense strategy. If there are aggravating or mitigating factors present, the charges against you could be elevated or reduced accordingly.
Get in Touch with a California Drug Paraphernalia Attorney Today
The drug paraphernalia charges you are facing could make it difficult for you to rebuild your life post-conviction. Get help clearing your name of the charges against you and set your future up for success by contacting an experienced California drug paraphernalia lawyer today. Schedule your confidential case evaluation when you call us or fill out our secure contact form.