If you find yourself charged with drug possession in California, you should first understand the laws and potential consequences. Drug laws are often very complicated in most jurisdictions, and our attorneys at Kosnett Law Firm seek to break down the key points in a straightforward manner.

Drug Possession in California

What Constitutes Drug Possession?

In California, drug possession refers to having an illegal controlled substance in your possession for personal use. This includes drugs like marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and prescription medications obtained without a valid prescription. Possession can be “actual” or “constructive.”

Actual possession means the drugs were found directly on your person, in your clothing, purse, or belongings under your control. Constructive possession applies when the drugs were found in a location you had control over, like your home, car, or workspace.

Penalties for Drug Possession in California

Consequences for possessing drugs in California vary based on the type and amount of the drug involved, as well as any prior convictions. In general, possession of smaller amounts for personal use is treated less severely than possession with intent to sell or distribute. Below are the common penalties.

Misdemeanor Possession

Possession of small quantities of certain drugs (less than 28.5 grams of marijuana or less than 1 gram of heroin or cocaine) is typically charged as a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor conviction can result in up to one year in county jail, fines, probation, and mandatory drug counseling or treatment.

Felony Possession

Possession of larger quantities of drugs or certain types of drugs can lead to felony charges. For example, possession of methamphetamine, GHB, or PCP is typically charged as a felony. Felony convictions can result in sentences ranging from 16 months to three years in state prison, substantial fines, probation, and mandatory drug treatment.

Aggravating Factors

Certain circumstances can increase the severity of drug possession charges. This can be possession within 1,000 feet of a school or playground or possession while armed with a firearm or other deadly weapon. These situations can elevate misdemeanor charges to felonies or result in enhanced sentences.

Proposition 36 and Drug Treatment

In 2000, California voters passed Proposition 36, also known as the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act. This law allows certain non-violent offenders to receive court-ordered drug treatment instead of incarceration. To be eligible, the offender must be convicted of simple drug possession and have no prior convictions for violent or serious felonies.

Marijuana Possession

In 2016, California legalized the recreational use and possession of marijuana for adults aged 21 and over. However, there are still limits on the amount that can be legally possessed. Adults can possess up to 28.5 grams of cannabis and 8 grams of concentrated cannabis. Possession of larger amounts can still result in criminal charges.

Prescription Drug Possession

Possession of prescription drugs without a valid prescription can lead to charges similar to those for illegal drugs. This includes medications like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and amphetamines. It is important to only possess and use prescription drugs as directed by a licensed medical professional.

Defenses for Drug Possession Charges

Several potential defenses may apply in drug possession cases depending on the specific circumstances. Some common defenses include:

  • Lack of knowledge or control: If you can demonstrate you were unaware of the presence of the drugs or did not have control over the location where they were found, this could be a valid defense.
  • Unlawful search and seizure: The evidence may be suppressed or dismissed if the drugs were obtained through an illegal search or seizure that violated your constitutional rights.
  • Entrapment: If law enforcement officers induced or persuaded you to commit a crime you would not have otherwise committed, you may have a defense of entrapment.
  • Prescribed medication: If you possess a prescription medication legally prescribed to you, you may have a valid defense.

By now, you know that drug possession laws can be confusing, and the specific circumstances of each case will determine the potential charges and defenses available. If you find yourself facing drug possession charges in California, consult with our experienced criminal defense attorney at Kosnett Law Firm. We can evaluate your case and provide guidance on the best course of action.

Talk to Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys

At Kosnett Law Firm, we understand the sensitive nature of drug possession cases and the potential impact on individuals’ lives. Our team of skilled attorneys is dedicated to protecting your rights and advocating for the best possible outcome. Contact us today by calling 310-879-5473 for a confidential consultation.

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