If you have been arrested for drug possession in Los Angeles, this is not a minor offense. Although California’s drug laws have eased up over the years, you still face up to a year in jail or felony charges. Don’t allow a simple drug charge to ruin your life.
At the Simmrin Law Group, we know how to handle drug charges—and we will fight for you. Our goal is to give you the strongest defense possible, take on the prosecutor, and help you avoid harsh consequences. Consult with a Los Angeles drug possession defense attorney to start building your case.
Understanding Drug Possession in Los Angeles
Drug possession is a broad law that applies to many types of drugs, and it can be tried as a felony or misdemeanor depending on the circumstances. All drug possession charges carry the possibility of jail time.
Drug possession is defined by California’s Health & Safety Code Section 11350. Under that law, unless you have a legitimate medical prescription, it is illegal to:
- Have a controlled substance on your person (in a pocket, hidden on your body, etc.), or
- Under your control (such as in your car, home, gym locker or otherwise in your possession)
However, just being near the drugs does not count as drug possession, even if you had access to them. For example, if officers arrest you on a park bench and drugs were hidden under the bench, it does not count as possession unless someone saw you put them there.
Our drug possession defense lawyers in Los Angeles can review your case for free to determine your best defense.
For a free legal consultation with a Criminal Defense lawyer serving Los Angeles, call (310) 928-9347
What Are the Penalties for Drug Possession in California?
Despite changes to drug possession laws in California, the penalties are still harsh if you are convicted. Penalties for drug possession include:
- Up to one year in county jail
- Up to $1,000 in fines
- Having a criminal record
Unfortunately, you may encounter more severe penalties. If you have previously been convicted of a crime, drug possession may violate the terms of your probation. You may be sentenced to stricter terms or have your probation revoked.
Luckily, you could qualify for a “drug diversion.” This means that you can go to drug treatment instead of jail, and your jail sentence will be waived if you complete treatment. You should ask your lawyer if this is a possibility for you.
Los Angeles Drug Possession Defense Lawyer Near Me (310) 928-9347
How Your Drug Possession Lawyer May Defend You
Our possession defense attorneys in Los Angeles can discuss your situation to establish what defense best suits your case. There are several strong defenses, such as:
- You didn’t know the drugs were there: Drugs found in your car or home may not have been yours, for example, if a friend borrowed the car or you had a house party recently. It is not a possession if you didn’t know.
- You didn’t know what the drugs were: This is possible if there were pills in your home but you didn’t know what they were, or a friend asked you to hold onto something for you without telling you what it was.
- You didn’t possess the drugs: Simply being found near drugs is not a crime. If they were not under your control, you can’t be convicted.
- You had a valid prescription, even if the prescription was not with you at the time you were arrested.
- The drugs were found in an illegal search: If the police committed an illegal search and seizure, it doesn’t matter what they found—your Fourth Amendment rights were violated.
Unfortunately, you can’t simply claim that this is what happened and expect to walk free. If you are facing a drug charge, nothing is more important than having a legal professional on your side. The Simmrin Law Group knows how to assemble the evidence, argue your case, and construct a legal basis for the defense.
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What Is Considered a Controlled Substance in Los Angeles?
The law defines many substances as “controlled” substances even though some are not nearly as harmful as others. This may include legitimate medications if you don’t have a prescription for them.
Some controlled substances include:
- Depressants, such as amobarbital, PCP, PCM, lysergic acid
- Hallucinogens, including mescaline, peyote, psilocybin (mushrooms), GHB, cocaine, or cocaine base
- Opiates and their derivatives, such as codeine, heroin, morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone (Vicodin), psilocybin, etc.
- Steroids of any kind, such as testosterone, androisoxazole, nandrolone, ketamine
- Stimulants, such as amphetamine, methamphetamine, dimethylamphetamine, benzphetamine, MDMA/ecstasy
Depending on which substance you supposedly had, you may be charged with a generic drug possession charge or a specific drug charge. For example, possessing stimulants such as methamphetamine will result in a specific methamphetamine charge.
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Does Having Marijuana Count as Drug Possession in California?
In most cases having marijuana will not count as drug possession. Technically marijuana is still a controlled substance, but it has been decriminalized in California. You should not face a drug possession charge if you:
- Had only a small amount of marijuana (one ounce of leaf or eight grams of concentrate)
- You have a medical marijuana card and were following the rules for medicinal use
However, you can still face serious legal consequences if you are accused of growing or selling marijuana, or if you are charged under California’s concentrated cannabis laws. And you’ll need to speak to a Los Angeles drug possession defense attorney for guidance.
Is It True That Drug Possession Is Always a Felony?
When California’s drug possession law was originally passed in 1970, it set possession as a felony for nearly all cases—regardless of the amount, your criminal history, or the circumstances of the case. It also mandated a maximum felony sentence.
This law resulted in terrible injustices and unfair incarceration. It was a disaster for the state of California, and we continue to see many of its effects today.
Now, although the punishments for drug possession still outweigh the crime, the law has been reigned in—thanks to a 2014 referendum known as Proposition 47. This allows most drug possession charges to be treated as misdemeanors.
In most cases, you can only be charged with a felony if you have previous convictions for:
- Sexual assault or other sex crimes
- Manslaughter, DUI manslaughter, or similar violent crimes
- Gun crimes
A lawyer from our law firm can explain more about how drug offenses are determined to be either a misdemeanor or a felony.
Should You Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer for Simple Possession?
You may be charged with simple drug possession if you are found with a small amount of drugs apparently for personal use, not for distribution. This charge is a misdemeanor and as such, some people don’t bother to hire a lawyer.
However, a misdemeanor charge should still be taken seriously. Hiring a lawyer may allow you to avoid fines and jail time. Working with our legal team can benefit you by:
- Allowing you to participate in a drug diversion program
- Having your charges reduced or dismissed
- Getting your charges resolved in court
Protect your future with legal assistance. Teaming up with an experienced attorney will ensure your case gets the full consideration it deserves.
Talk to a Los Angeles Drug Possession Lawyer for Free
A drug possession conviction could upset your life for years to come. Consult with a drug possession defense lawyer in Los Angeles from the Simmrin Law Group. We don’t believe California’s drug laws are fair—and we will work to get your charges reduced or dismissed.
Let our team put our knowledge to work for you. We offer complimentary case reviews to help you get started. Fill out our online form or call us 24/7 to schedule your free consultation today.