California law dictates that it is illegal to possess, sell or use certain types of drugs, including cocaine, gamma hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), heroin, hallucinogens, mescaline, non-prescription marijuana, non-prescription painkillers, and drug paraphernalia. In addition, possession of more drugs than necessary for your personal use or possession of a weight scale, or any type of documents that would imply that you are selling drugs can escalate charges against you to include intent to distribute. Illegal possession of just one ounce or less of marijuana could result in a mandatory prison sentence.
Consequences of Illegal Possession in California
Repercussions for illegal possession in California vary depending on the type and amount of drug you are caught with, your previous criminal record, additional aggravating factors, and the perceived intention to sell. If you have been convicted of illegal possession in the past, are caught in possession or the selling of drugs near a day-care or school, the sentences are more severe than for other first-time offenders. Usually classified as a felony, illegal possession carries a penalty of up to a year in jail with probation and fines. Two exceptions that exist in the aforementioned circumstances include:
- Possession of one or less ounces of marijuana may be classified as an infraction and result in a $100 fine, with no jail time.
- Illegal possession of GHB and other depressants may be charged as a misdemeanor if you have no criminal background, but may include up to one year in jail and fines as high as $1000.
Occasionally sentences may be reduced if you agree to drug treatment counseling. But, if arrested for selling drugs, you’ll be facing up to four years of prison time; any selling of drugs eliminates your eligibility for drug treatment counseling as a remedy for your sentence.
Evidence Required by California Courts to Prove Illegal Possession
To prove a case of illegal possession, prosecutors must be able to provide evidence that shows you had control over the drug you had possession of when the police discovered it, that you were aware of the presence of the drug, that you had possession of a drug that was illegal, and that you were in possession of enough of the drug to consume it as a controlled substance. Should you be able to prove that you didn’t know you had the drug or if only trace amounts were found, prosecutors could have a difficult time proving that you did anything illegal. Simply having access to a controlled substance or being in close proximity to someone doing drugs is enough to convict you of illegal possession.
Contact a Qualified California Criminal Defense Attorney if You are Charged with Illegal Possession
Representation by a qualified criminal defense attorney well-versed in illegal possession defense is your best resource for beating an illegal possession charge. Defenses that could exonerate you when charged with illegal possession include:
- You have a valid prescription for the drug and you aren’t found to possess more drugs than your prescription is for.
- The drug in your possession was a narcotic that you were on your way to destroy to prevent the possession of that drug by another person.
- You didn’t know the drug was in your possession (someone left it in your home or car without your knowledge that it was there).
- You were ignorant that the drugs you had were illegal to possess.
- If law enforcement officers violated search and seizure laws when they arrested you.
- If law enforcement officers used excessive force in collecting the drugs in your possession.
R.J. Manuelian is a qualified California criminal defense attorney with extensive experience in defense of those charged with illegal possession. If you or a loved one has been charged with illegal possession, contact R.J. for assistance.
Being arrested or charged with illegal drug possession, especially if you are arrested for intent to sell the drug, is an extremely serious offense in California. Should you or a loved one or friend be arrested for illegal possession, you do have the right to seek advice from an attorney. R.J. is an experienced illegal weapons possession lawyer who has assisted numerous clients with an illegal possession arrest. Contact him today for expert assistance with any criminal defense representation you need.