Having a controlled substance on your person could potentially put you in a lot of trouble with the authorities. Controlled substances are typically defined as drugs that the possession and use of which are regulated by the federal government.
The punishment for possession of a controlled substance in California is determined by how the substance is categorized in the state’s “schedule.” The schedule is a list of controlled substances organized according to its danger level, treatment and potential for harm. The penalty is also subject to various factors, like the type and amount of drugs in possession, the person’s criminal history, and whether or not there was an intent to sell.
Typical Punishments For Drug Possession
- Jail time: A person convicted of drug possession could serve time in jail. Sentences vary and will depend on the crime and the drugs involved. However, imprisonment can last anywhere from a few days to as much as ten years.
- Court fines: A lot of illegal possession convictions end with offenders paying fines. These can range anywhere from $100 to $100,000 or higher.
- Drug counseling or rehabilitation: Courts can also sentence a drug offender to a drug treatment or rehabilitation program in lieu of jail time. Rehabilitation can also be one of the requirements of a probation sentence.
- Diversion programs: Similar to probation, diversion programs are often given to first-offenders. This penalty permits the offender to enroll in a behavior modification program or go to counselling. The drug offender also has to comply with specific conditions for a duration of six months or more. Drug possession charges will be dropped as soon as the offender completes the program. However, failure to comply will result in the prosecutor filing drug possession charges.
- Probation: This is often meted out in conjunction with other penalties like fines, imprisonment or rehabilitation. Probation requires the offender to check in with a probation officer regularly and follow set conditions, like not using drugs. Failure to comply with the terms could lead to imprisonment.
While possession of a controlled substance in California is typically classified as a misdemeanor, with penalties of either a year in county jail and/or a fine of $1,000, you can be given felony penalty if you have also been convicted of a sex crime that has led to you being listed in the state’s sex offender registry or if you have been convicted of a serious felony (murder, gross vehicular manslaughter, sexually violent crimes). In this case, you can be sentenced anywhere from 16 months to three years in prison.
What Is Possession of a Controlled Substance?
Illegal possession of a controlled substance is when a person has or possesses a drug or other controlled substances, like cocaine, heroin, marijuana, or methamphetamine, without permission or justification. The California Health and Safety Code 11350(a) HS states that it is illegal to have a controlled substance without a valid prescription. It also defines various kinds of controlled substances and has categorized them under Schedules.
Possession of a controlled substance is also known as “simple possession” or “drug possession in legal terms. It is a misdemeanor offense under California’s Proposition 47.
You are allowed to carry, possess or use a controlled substance in certain situations, like for research purposes or under the supervision of your doctor. However, possession and use of said materials are deemed illegal when the substance has no legitimate use (as in the case of heroin) or when you have no legal reason to have it.
In this case, you could be charged with illegal possession of a controlled substance. The punishment and consequences of these charges could have a major impact in your future.
What Are the Repercussions of a Drug Possession Conviction?
While Proposition 47 categorizes possession of a controlled substance as a misdemeanor, certain conditions have to be met in order to qualify for it. Those who have previous convictions are not protected by Proposition 47 and can be charged with either a misdemeanor a felony.
A drug possession conviction can have serious repercussions in your life. A criminal record of this nature can prevent you from getting a bank or student loan. In some instances, it could also prevent a student from graduating.
You might also have difficulty finding a job since companies do background checks. You definitely won’t be able to get a security clearance for federal employment. A conviction could also cause your state licenses to be revoked. Your green card or visa can also be revoked due to drug possession while a felony conviction could have you deported.
How Do You Fight a Drug Possession Charge?
Being charged with possession of a controlled substance is undoubtedly nerve wracking. However, there are ways to fight this allegation. With the right criminal defense lawyer and a proper strategy, you might even be able to have the charges dismissed altogether. Here are some of the usual strategies employed by a criminal lawyer in Los Angeles:
- You can show that you have a valid prescription for the drug. Conversely, your lawyer can also show that the prosecutors cannot adequately prove that you do not have a doctor’s prescription.
- Prove that the drug or substance is not considered a controlled substance or it’s not illegal. For instance, you might have a prescription for medical marijuana.
- Show that you were not aware that there was a controlled substance on or near you. For example, your friend left his bag in your car or room and the controlled substance was in one of the pockets. Since you were unaware that it was there, you can’t be charged of having possession of it.
- Prove that the controlled substance is not yours and belongs to another person.
- The search and seizure that was conducted was illegal or the police officers involved have fabricated the evidence or exaggerated it.
A drug possession charge might be a misdemeanor in California but it should never be treated lightly. It will still have severe consequences in your life. While there are ways to fight back or to minimize the damage, remember that every case is different. It’s imperative that you secure the services of a lawyer who can clearly explain what to expect and what you need to do.
The Simmrin Law Group can help your case. Contact us today at 310-997-4688 or fill out the contact form in the right sidebar of this page. Do not waste another moment, schedule your FREE consultation today!