In California, possessing controlled substances like cocaine, heroin, Prescription drugs without the proper prescription is illegal. When law enforcement officers arrest you for possession of these drugs, you will face legal penalties. The punishment for possession of these controlled substances will seriously have extensive consequences in your future.
Even under the terms and conditions of Prop 47, you may face a jail term for up to 12 months based on the type and the amount of the controlled substance you possess. For this reason, it will be helpful if you seek help from a skilled attorney.
At Pasadena Criminal Attorney, our firm is well recognized for aggressive lawyers with deep knowledge of California drug laws. We handle cases involving controlled substances thanks to our in-depth skills and expertise. We start by listening to your case and building a solid defense to fight your charges.
What are Controlled Substances in California?
Under the state’s laws, a controlled substance is any drug placed under the schedule for a controlled substance. Several of these drugs are often illegal. For example, the drugs include Heroin, Meth, or Cocaine. Many are outlined under the state’s Health & Safety Code 11350.
Schedules of Controlled Substances in California
The state considers the federal law on controlled substances and H&S code 11054 to group the drugs. The California court considers two main factors when grouping the drugs into their respective schedules:
The possibility of people abusing the drug.
The desired medicinal use in the drug.
The drugs with a lower potential abuse and higher medicinal value fall under schedule V. Alternatively, the drugs with a little medicinal value and people are likely to abuse them or result in addiction fall under schedule I $ II.
What are Schedule V Drugs?
Schedule V consists of the least severe drugs under H&S code 11058. These drugs are the least controlled substances to be abused. They also lead to the least levels of dependency. Again, the drugs are heavily accepted to use in the community. They include:
Many cough medications containing low levels of codeine concentrations
Schedule IV Drugs
These drugs are more severe than schedule IV drugs as they can cause addiction. However, they retain an accepted medicinal value. The drugs are outlined under the state's H&S Code 11057. They include stimulants, low dosage narcotics, and depressants. The examples are:
Schedule III Drugs
The compounds listed in this schedule have a low acceptance of medicinal value in society. They also contain a moderate likelihood to create an addiction to the users. In California, the drugs are outlined under H&S code 11056. The schedule III drugs cover compounds including depressants, hallucinogens, diluted narcotics, and steroids. These drugs include:
Compounds containing 90 milligrams or less of codeine in each dosage
Schedule II Drugs
The drugs and compounds outlined under schedule II are listed in California H&S Code 11055. These drugs have a great potential for addiction, abuse, and dependency on the users. They also have limited legal use in society. It’s good to note many drugs under this schedule are considered harmful and dangerous. The drugs include:
Methamphetamine and amphetamine
Oxycontin and oxycodone
Adderall and Ritalin
Schedule I Drugs
Schedule I substances are outlined in California H&S code 11054. The drugs have no acknowledged medicinal use in the community. They also have a high risk of addiction. The law in California is strict and inflicts heavy penalties for the people arrested in possession of these drugs. In addition, these drugs are dominated by depressants, hallucinogens, derivatives, and opiates. The drugs include:
Lysergic Acid Diethylamide
Pyrrolidine analog of phencyclidine
The law also groups marijuana and cannabis under schedule I. Still, unlike the other drugs, marijuana has been recognized for its many medicinal values. Also, the scientists acknowledge its inability to addict many users. So, it's more likely the state will remove marijuana from this group in the future.
What the Prosecutor Must Prove in a Possession of Controlled Substances Charge
The prosecutor must demonstrate before the court that you possessed the controlled substances. Therefore the prosecution team has a hard time proving all the elements of the crime. For instance, the prosecutor must demonstrate:
The alleged substance was controlled in the state.
You illegally possessed the alleged substance.
You knew the substance under your possession was controlled.
You knew the drug was under your control at the time of the arrest.
The amount of substance you possessed was enough to be used and not a residue.
When the prosecutor fails to prove the above elements, the court will dismiss your case. Many people in California assume they must be holding the drug for the police to arrest them. However, the law describes possession of controlled substances under three categories as follows:
Actual possession of controlled substances is what many people in the state associate with possession. Under this category, the drug in question is on your person, like your pocket.
What is Constructive Possession?
In California, you may face charges for constructive possession when the police find the alleged drug in a place where you can access it. For instance, law enforcement officers find the drug in your car, home, or another place, like under a table. The prosecution team will only prove the drug in question was within an area you can control. Constructive possession also means you could retrieve the drug easily and have actual control over it.
In California, the law considers joint possession an extension of constructive and actual possession where more than two people possess the alleged drug. In many cases, joint possession will occur when the arresting officers discover the controlled substance in a place shared where the involved parties possess it. For example, you might face charges for joint possession when you and another person pool funds to purchase the drug in question.
Penalties and Consequences of Possessing Controlled Substances in California
Under prop 47, possessing any drug outlined in the schedules is a misdemeanor offense. The court punishes the offenders with a maximum of 12 months jail time. However, not everyone will be eligible for these misdemeanor charges. Prop 47 applies to the offenders who are not registered as sex offenders. Also, it applies to those without a past criminal conviction for a violent offense. The offenders who do not qualify might face felony charges based on the amount of substance under their control.
In many cases, the offenders spend a long time behind bars. Remember, jail time is only one of the several punishments you will face. Discuss your matters with your drug attorney to help you understand the potential consequences you might face in the future due to the crime. The charge might attract difficulties with:
Renting an Apartment
The landlord will conduct a background check to rent a house. When the landlord discovers you have a past conviction for possession of controlled substances, they will more likely deny you the chance to rent the house.
Finding a job will become a challenge when you have a prior violent conviction. Many companies will require you to undergo background checks before they hire you. In addition, you will not obtain a clearance to receive a government job.
The California court judges will more likely look unfavorably on a drug conviction if they want to grant custody of your child.
College Financial Aid
When you have a prior conviction for possession of controlled substances, you will find it difficult to receive financial aid for your university or college. This means, if you are a continuing student, you will find it challenging to graduate from the institution.
When you are living in the US on a green card or visa, the court can revoke it after you commit an offense like possession of controlled substances. Remember, a felony conviction will result in deportation.
Various factors will result in additional punishments and penalties mentioned above. For example, when you face conviction for purchasing or possessing cocaine, you will remain in county jail for up to five years and pay a fine not exceeding $20,000. In addition, you will face extra penalties for possession of controlled substances like heroin, cocaine, and cocaine base. The additional penalties will include:
An addition of three years when the alleged substance weighs one kilogram.
Another ten years when the drug in question weight more than ten kilograms.
Another five years when the alleged substance has more than four kilograms.
Additional twenty years when the weight of the drug surpasses 40 kilograms.
Additional fifteen years when the substance in question weighs more than twenty kilograms.
Extra twenty-five years when the alleged substance weighed eighty kilograms.
When you receive additional penalties underweight enhancement, you will also face a fine not exceeding $8,000,000. Again, when you face conviction for purchasing or possessing the controlled substances in California for sale, and you have a prior conviction for the same offense, the court will inflict additional three years on your sentence.
Apart from facing the above penalties, there is a possibility of serving a probation term under H&S Code 11351. When the court places you on a probation term, you must adhere to certain conditions and terms. These conditions and terms will include:
Performing community service.
Visiting the state probation experts as ordered by the probation conditions.
Avoid violating other laws.
Complying with random drug testing.
You may use several defenses when facing charges for possession of a controlled substance. The defenses may make your charges reduced or be dismissed. When you hire a competent defense attorney, below are fruitful defenses you can use to fight your charges.
Lack of Knowledge
To face the charges for possession of a controlled substance, you must have possessed the drug, and you had full knowledge it is banned under California laws. If you lack knowledge of the drug and its criminal nature, you cannot face the charges for the crime. If you do not have a previous drug criminal history, the defense works favorably for you. Again, the defense works if you cooperated with the police officer and took a drug test during the arrest. The prosecutor must prove you knew the drug in question was present at the time of your arrest. If you did not know the drugs were present, you would be declared innocent.
Lack of Intent to Sell
Before you face conviction for the crime, the prosecution team must prove your intent to sell. The prosecutor will find it challenging to prove your aim to sell the drugs. Therefore, the judge will result in the use of incidental evidence. When they fail to prove your intent to sell, your charges may be reduced or dismissed entirely. When you have a competent defense lawyer, they may argue you had momentary possession intention to dispose of the controlled substance.
Lack of Possession
To face conviction, the judge must prove you had control or possession over the drug. The substance may have been found with you or within the area you exercise control. Your defense attorney may help you beat the charges by arguing you lacked the requisite control or possession of the drugs.
For example, The police raid your friend's house when you watch a movie together at her house. They find bags of heroin beneath couch cushions. Although you were seated where the heroine was found, you did not have control or possession over the drugs. Therefore, you will not face conviction for the crime.
You Had a Valid Prescription
Sometimes, you might have a valid, written prescription from a licensed medical expert. The licensed medical experts include podiatrists, dentists, veterinarians, or physicians licensed to work in California. The prescription may act as a good defense for your case. The burden will lie on the prescription since they will have to prove your prescription is not valid.
Your defense lawyer will help you beat the charges by arguing that you had a legitimate prescription and suffered an illness managed by a controlled substance. Therefore, your defense lawyer will argue your possession of the drug in question was not lawful. The amount of controlled substance you possess must align with your prescription for the defense to work. If the amount is larger than your medication, the prosecution may use this against you.
Momentary possession may act as a defense for possessing a controlled substance in the state. For the defense to work, you or your defense attorney must demonstrate you possessed the alleged drug for a transitory period and wanted to destroy or dispose of it. Again, you should prove you did not hinder the police officer from obtaining the alleged drug. When your defense lawyer proves the three listed items, you may beat the charges.
The constitution's fourth amendment guards all US citizens against illegal search by the police. Law enforcement officers should conform to procedures and formalities when conducting arrests and searches. The procedures include having a search warrant, searching according to the latitude of the warrant, and having a valid reason for the arrest.
When the police fail to adhere to the official procedure or unlawfully acquire evidence, any drugs they discover cannot act as evidence against you by failing to follow any of these procedures. Your defense attorney may ask the criminal judge to do away with the evidence. Your charges will be dismissed or significantly reduced when the evidence is discarded.
Can I Apply For Expungement?
When you face conviction for a drug crime, you are probably worried about how the crime may affect your future. The criminal record may affect your education, employment, housing, and ability to acquire loans. It is essential to know that your records may be expunged, lessening the negative consequences associated with the history.
Expungement is essential after you face conviction for drug possession. Expungement is a legal procedure that releases you from all penalties resulting from a previous conviction. According to California laws, you may be eligible for Expungement when you meet the prison sentence and probation requirements. After you clear your records, you will secure government employment. Again, you will be able to acquire a professional license and avoid deportation if you are a non -citizen.
Other Crime Related to Possession of a Controlled Substance
There are crimes charged alongside HSC 11351. They are listed below:
Sale, Transportation Of a Controlled Substance
Transportation refers to carrying controlled substances from one place to another for sale. It doesn't matter the distance, whether short or long, provided the substance moves from one location to another. To face conviction for sale and transportation of a controlled substance, the prosecutor must prove you sold, administered, or transported the controlled substance for sale.
Again, the prosecutor must prove the controlled substance you possessed was in a usable amount. When convicted of transportation of a controlled substance, the penalties include imprisonment for five years. You also pay a fine of up to $20000.The possible defenses for transportation of drugs include not knowing the drugs were present, you had a valid prescription, or the drug was not a controlled substance under California laws.
Simple Possession of a Controlled Substance HSC11377(a)
The crime occurs whenever you knowingly and intentionally possess a controlled substance. Unless you had a valid prescription from a medical practitioner, mere possession of a controlled substance is punishable under California laws.
The prosecutor must prove you unlawfully possessed the controlled substance to face conviction, and you were also aware of its presence. The prosecutor must also prove you knew the nature of the substance and it was in a usable amount.
You may face felony or misdemeanor charges depending on the nature of your case. However, you are not guilty of possessing a controlled substance if you had a prescription from a licensed naturopathic doctor, dentist, podiatrist, veterinarian, or physician in California. When convicted of the crime, the penalties include imprisonment of up to three years. You also pay a fine of $10000. The defense that applies includes being intoxicated, having a valid prescription, and being under duress.
Possession of Imitation Of a Controlled Substance Intending to Distribute HS 109575
An imitation of a controlled substance is any substance that is not controlled, but its appearance and representation would lead a reasonable person to believe it is controlled. HS109575 occurs when you distribute, manufacture, or possess an imitation of a controlled substance to distribute it.
To face conviction for the crime, the prosecutor must prove that you distributed, possessed, or knowingly made an imitation of a controlled substance to distribute it.
When convicted for violating HS109575, the penalties you face include imprisonment in county jail for six months. You may also pay fines of $1000.The possible defenses you may use for the crime include you didn't know you possessed an imitation of a controlled substance and false accusations.
Offering to Sale Substitute Substance
You commit the crime of offering to sell substitute substance HSC11355 by offering to sell any one of the narcotic drugs while intending instead to deliver an imitation. The prosecutor must prove you unlawfully offered to transport, sell, or deliver a banned substance to face conviction. Additionally, you intended to deliver a non-controlled substance instead of a banned substance.
The judge may charge you with either wobble or a felony, depending on the nature of your case. When convicted of a felony, the penalties include imprisonment in prison for three years and a fine up to $10000. Legal defense includes false accusations, insufficient evidence, and coerced confession.
Contact a Pasadena Criminal Attorney Near Me
Possession of controlled substances in California is a severe crime that attracts heavy penalties. As mentioned above, the penalties vary based on several factors like aggravated ones. That’s why it’s recommended you seek legal help from a skilled attorney. At Pasadena Criminal Attorney, we will develop strategies to help fight for your rights. Our attorneys have extensive knowledge of drug-related offenses. We are the top choice for clients who face controlled substance charges. Call us at 626-689-2277and let us work on your case right away.