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California Drug Possession

In recent years, many states have loosened their drug laws related to marijuana. However, even though these laws are shifting, drug possession, especially of substances other than marijuana, can still lead to serious legal trouble and penalties. If you are caught in possession of drugs in California, there are a number of factors that will impact the severity of the consequences that you will face.

Type of possession

To be in possession of drugs under California law, you must have control over them. The drugs do not have to be physically on your person. For instance, if they are in your backpack, which is in the backseat of your car, they are in deemed to be in your possession. One of the most important aspects of a drug possession charge in California is whether the drugs are for the purpose for personal use, and therefore “simple possession,” or if they are intended to be sold. In cases of simple possession, the penalties are often just fines, or misdemeanors, resulting in fines and shorter jail times.

In the case of classified of possession with the intent to sell, the penalties are more severe, and the offense is classified as a felony. If the evidence of a sale exists, the penalty and jail time are even higher and can include a sentence of up to nine years.

Type of substance

The type of substance involved has an impact on the severity of the crime as well. Marijuana is regulated separately, but drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and oxycodone are illegal to possess under the California Health and Safety Code 11350. Methamphetamines and certain other drugs are governed by a separate law, California Health and Safety Code 11377. While these laws cover different types of substances, the penalties in each case are essentially the same, with simple possession being a misdemeanor level offense, but intent to sell being a felony.

If a drug is considered a “date-rape” drug, and if there is evidence that the possessing person intended to use the drugs for the purpose of committing sexual assault, then the penalty for possession is higher, becoming a felony with the potential for jail time of three years.

Age of the people involved

Another factor that might play a role in the level of offense is the age of the people involved. Even the sale of marijuana can land a person in jail for up to seven years if the sale was to a person under the age of 14. If the sale is to a minor, over the age of 14, then the penalty can be up to 5 years.

Ways that drug charges impact your life

Even when the penalties seem minimal, they can have a huge impact on your life. Some areas where drug charges might negatively impact you include your ability to rent an apartment, get a new job, get custody of minor children, in immigration matters and if you are applying for financial aid for school.

Given the serious ways in which even a minor offense can impact your life, it is important to find an attorney to represent you. If you are located in California and are facing drug possession charges, contact the experienced attorneys at Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox LLP to discuss your case.

1447 Ford Street Suite 201 Redlands, California 92374
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Stephen Levine, is a Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Defense — an honor achieved by only the top criminal law attorneys in California. Mr. Levine has over 40 years of experience in criminal defense and family law serving Southern California, and is a highly regarded Super Lawyer as well as AV Rated attorney.