If you have been arrested for drug possession in Los Angeles, you need to know that this is not a minor offense. Although California’s drug laws have gotten less strict over the years, you still face up to a year in jail—and in some cases you can even be tried as a felon. Don’t allow a simple drug charge to ruin years of your life. You need to talk to a Los Angeles drug possession lawyer.
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 jail or even win your case altogether. The simple fact is that California’s drug laws remain too harsh, and you don’t deserve the punishments they carry. Let us give you a free consultation to start building your case. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.
What counts as drug possession in Los Angeles?
Drug possession is defined by California’s Health & Safety Code Section 11350. Under that law, it is illegal to:
Have a controlled substance on your person (in a picket, hidden on your body, etc.), or
Under your control (such as in your car, home, gym locker or otherwise in your possession)
Unless you have a legitimate medical prescription
However, just being near the drugs does not count, even if you had access to them. For example, if officers arrest you in a park bench and drugs were hidden under the bench, it does not count as possession unless someone saw you put them there or there is other similar evidence.
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.
What drugs count as controlled substances in Los Angeles?
The law defines many substances as “controlled” substances even though some are not nearly as harmful as others. This can include legitimate medications if you don’t have a prescription for them.
Note: marijuana is not a controlled su
Some of these controlled substances include:
Depressants such as Amobarbital, PCP, PCM, Lysergic acid and others
Hallucinogens including Mescaline, Peyote, Psilocybin (mushrooms), GHB, Cocaine or Cocaine Base, and others
Opiates and their derivatives, such as Codeine, Heroin, Morphine Oxycodone, Hydrocodone (Vicodin), Psilocybin, etc.
Steroids of any kind, such as Testosterone, Androisoxazole, Nandrolone, Ketamine and others
Stimulants such as Amphetamine, Methamphetamine, Dimethylamphetamine, Benzphetamine, MDMA/ecstasy and others
Depending on which substance you supposedly had, you may be charged with a generic drug possession charge or under a separate, special law. For example, possessing stimulants such as methamphetamine will result in a specific methamphetamine charge.
Does having marijuana count as drug possession in California?
In most cases no, not currently. 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 (1 ounce of of leaf or 8 grams of concentrate), or
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.
What defenses can I use against a drug possession charge?
There are several strong defenses:
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 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 rights were violated.
Unfortunately, you can’t simply claim that this is what happened and expect to walk free. You need a good lawyer who knows how to assemble the evidence, argue your case, and construct a legal basis for the defense. If you are facing a drug charge, nothing is more important than having a legal professional on your side.
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 the unfair incarceration of many normal, good people. 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
What are the penalties for drug possession in California?
Up to 1 year in county jail
Up to $1,000 in fines
However, 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 in your case.
Talk to a Los Angeles Drug Possession Lawyer for Free
We don’t believe California’s drug laws are fair—and we don’t think you should have to go to jail. Let the Simmrin Law Group put our knowledge to work for you. We will give you a FREE consultation to help get you started on your case. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.