Being under the influence of a controlled substance that isn’t lawfully prescribed is a serious offense in California under California Health and Safety Code §11550 HS. If you get convicted of this offense, you risk a misdemeanor punishment of up to one year in jail.
You can be charged if you are illegally obtained a narcotic drug, use a controlled substance, or under the influence. If this happens, speak to an experienced drug crimes lawyer like Simmrin Law Group to advise and guide you. Handling such charges alone can drain you.
What Is a Controlled Substance?
A controlled substance is a regulated drug under California’s Health and Safety Code 11550. Some of the substances are illegal, and if convicted, you may face penalties and charges. Below are examples of controlled substances.
A controlled substance could also be drugs such as hydrocodone, morphine, and codeine. You can be charged for using a controlled substance if found with these drugs without a prescription or if you use them without a prescription.
What does It Mean to Be Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance?
Law enforcement officers can detect when individuals are using certain drugs. If you are under the influence of a substance, you may exhibit some physical signs of intoxication. Police officers can often detect impairment and you may be arrested on suspicion of illegal use of a controlled substance.
The prosecutor must prove that you used drugs before your arrest. This could be within two to five days after your arrest. However, if you are experiencing withdrawal symptoms, then this could mean that you did not use drugs recently.
How California Proves that You Are Under Influence
The state uses various methods to detect and prove the crime. Here are the three main types of strategies used by the state.
Testimony from the Arresting Officer
A law enforcement officer may need to testify that they arrested you when you were intoxicated or had possession of drugs. Below are the signs you might exhibit that the officer may use to testify against you in court.
- Watery eyes
- Extreme fatigue
- Runny nose
- Chemical odor when breathing
- Inability to coordinate physically
The officer must have identified the symptoms during your arrest and may need to appear in court to testify about what happened. Handling court cases can be challenging. This is why you may want to hire a criminal lawyer such as those at Simmrin Law Group to help you.
Testimony from a Drug Recognition Expert
A DRE officer will conduct a 12-step Drug Impairment Protocol to determine if you are under the influence. If the DRE report indicates that you were under the influence, the officer may need to appear in court to testify using the findings.
In some cases, you may get tested if suspected of being under the influence of a controlled substance. Since a breath test doesn’t detect every type of illegal drug, you may be required to undergo a blood test. If you decline, you may be compelled to compile.
You may also be subjected to probation, incarceration, or detention if you refuse to take the test. If the results come out positive, the prosecutor might use the evidence against you. Seek help from a criminal defense lawyer for guidance and advice.
What Happens When You Get Arrested for Being Under the Influence of a Substance?
When you get arrested, it doesn’t mean that you are guilty of the offense. The court must prove the allegations to get you convicted for the offense. The prosecutor must prove the following elements.
- You willfully and unlawfully used the controlled substance before your arrest.
- You were under the influence of a controlled substance during the arrest.
- You used a substance that affected your nervous system, muscles, or brain.
If you have a valid prescription, you may not be guilty of the offense. It is also worth noting that marijuana does not fall under the controlled substance category. Speak to a criminal lawyer such as those at Simmrin Law Group to guide you.
Penalties for Being Under the Influence of a Substance in California
Getting convicted for being under the influence is a misdemeanor offense. The defendant may face a minimum of 90 days and a maximum of one year in jail. The defendant may also need to attend a drug diversion program or drug treatment.
It is possible to avoid jail time by participating in a drug rehabilitation program. The good news is that you do not have to go through the processes alone. It would be best to involve an experienced criminal lawyer to represent you and possibly fight for your rights.
Defenses to a §11550 Charge
An experienced California defense attorney can fight and protect your rights. They may make a valid claim that your unusual behavior at the time of your arrest had nothing to do with drug usage. Being afraid of law enforcement, suffering a physical condition of some kind, or dealing with a variety of other issues may be valid reasons for behaving differently.
The Benefits of Hiring a Criminal Attorney in California
If you get arrested for being under controlled substances, you should hire an experienced criminal attorney such as those at Simmrin Law Group immediately. An experienced California criminal lawyer is familiar with the circumstances of these cases and has an in-depth understanding of the state laws.
The lawyer can conduct investigations and deploy creative strategies to resolve your case without facing criminal charges. If you do not hire a criminal lawyer, you risk facing harsh penalties and fines.
Call a California Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
Getting convicted for being under a controlled substance is not something you’d want to experience. The processes and penalties may be even more severe if you face multiple offenses.
Contact us to speak to our lawyers.