In California, possession of an illegal substance is against the law. The sentence you may be facing if convicted of a charge for drug possession varies depending on a variety of factors. A conviction for drug possession may have a negative impact on your future. If you have been charged with a crime related to drug possession, it is a good idea to seek out a criminal defense attorney right away to start fighting back against these charges.

California criminal defense attorney Johann Hall has several years of experience successfully handling cases for individuals who have been charged with drug possession and other related crimes. If you are in need of representation for a charge of drug possession, contact our office today to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.

Common Drug Possession Charges

There are two main categories of drug possession charges in the state of California. These categories are simple possession and possession with intent to sell. Possession with intent to sell is the more serious category of the two, as it carries with it harsher sentences than simple possession. The category your charge falls into depends on whether there is evidence that may indicate you intended to sell the drugs that were found. Generally, this will depend on the amount of the drug or drugs allegedly found in your possession, as well as other factors, such as whether tools often used in drug dealing were also found in your possession.

Recreational Marijuana is Decriminalized in California Through Proposition 64

Although possession of marijuana was once illegal in California, it is now legal to possess up to 28.5 grams of marijuana or eight grams of concentrated marijuana in a private residence or in an establishment with a marijuana license, as long as you are age 21 or older. It is still illegal to smoke marijuana while driving, or while in a public place.

Drug Possession Sentencing

The penalties for drug possession vary depending on whether you are convicted of simple possession or possession with intent to sell. Additionally, the type of drug and amount of the drug are also factors taken into consideration at the time of sentencing. Once Proposition 47 passed in 2014, the laws in California regarding drug possession changed, making most drug possession offenses categorized as misdemeanors. In addition, Proposition 47 made it possible for people serving time in state prison for charges of drug possession to petition the court to ask for resentencing under the new law.

drug possession charges

Possession of Controlled Substances

In California, the following crimes are misdemeanors under the new law:

  • Possession of Schedule I opiates, cocaine base, peyote, synthetic cannabis, mescaline, and opium derivatives;
  • Possession of Schedule II opiates or narcotics;
  • Possession of Schedule III hallucinogens; and
  • Possession of Schedule IV and V substances.

The penalties for possession of these substances include a punishment of up to one year in county jail.

Possession of Marijuana and Concentrated Cannabis

Though recreational use of marijuana in limited quantities is legal, it is still illegal to possess over 28.5 grams of marijuana or over eight grams of concentrated marijuana. It is also illegal to possess any amount of marijuana in California if you are under the age of 21.

If you are convicted of possession of more than 28.5 grams of marijuana, you may face incarceration of up to six months and a fine of up to $500. If you are found with marijuana in an amount less than 28.5 grams and are under the age requirement, you may be sentenced to community service as well as a mandatory drug education class. If you are convicted of possession of over eight grams of concentrated cannabis, you may be facing a punishment of incarceration of up to one year and a fine of up to $500.

Defenses to Drug Possession Charges

If you have been charged with a crime of drug possession, it is important to speak with an attorney immediately. Depending on the facts of your case, there may be one or more defenses you may raise that could result in the charges being dismissed or lowered to a lesser charge. Some of these defenses include an unlawful search and seizure, medical necessity for the substance, valid prescription from a doctor for the substance in question, entrapment, and insufficient lab analysis methods. Criminal defense attorney Johann Hall is available to help you fight back against your drug possession charges. Give our office a call today at 707-360-8717 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a meeting and get started with our representation.

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Frequently Asked Questions on Drug Possession Laws in California

What are the penalties for drug possession in California?

The penalties for drug possession in California depend on the type of drug and the amount found. Simple possession is usually classified as a misdemeanor under Proposition 47, carrying a penalty of up to one year in county jail. However, possession with intent to sell is more severe and can lead to longer prison sentences and hefty fines.

Is marijuana possession legal in California?

Yes, adults 21 and older can legally possess up to 28.5 grams of marijuana and up to eight grams of concentrated cannabis. However, possessing more than these amounts, or any amount if you are under 21, remains illegal and can result in fines or jail time.

What is Proposition 47 and how does it affect drug possession charges?

Proposition 47, passed in 2014, reclassified many nonviolent drug offenses from felonies to misdemeanors. This law allows individuals previously convicted of such offenses to petition for resentencing under the new guidelines, potentially reducing their penalties.

What defenses can be used against drug possession charges?

Common defenses against drug possession charges include unlawful search and seizure, having a valid prescription, medical necessity, entrapment, and insufficient evidence or lab analysis. Consulting with a skilled attorney like Johann Hall can help identify the best defense for your case.

What constitutes possession with intent to sell in California?

Possession with intent to sell is determined by the amount of drugs, packaging materials, scales, large sums of cash, and communication indicating sales. This charge carries harsher penalties than simple possession, often resulting in felony charges.

Can minors be charged with drug possession in California?

Yes, minors caught with drugs face severe consequences. For marijuana, possession of less than 28.5 grams can result in community service and drug education classes. Possession of more significant amounts or other illegal substances can lead to more stringent penalties.

How has Proposition 64 impacted marijuana possession laws in California?

Proposition 64, passed in 2016, legalized the recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 and over, allowing them to possess specified amounts legally. It also provided a framework for licensing and regulating commercial marijuana businesses.

Is it illegal to possess prescription drugs without a prescription in California?

Yes, possessing prescription drugs without a valid prescription is illegal and considered a misdemeanor. Penalties can include jail time, fines, and a criminal record.

What are the penalties for possessing controlled substances under California law?

Penalties for possessing controlled substances vary by drug schedule. For example, possession of Schedule I substances, like heroin, can lead to up to one year in county jail. Penalties can increase if the possession is linked to an intent to sell.

What should I do if I am charged with drug possession in California?

If you’re charged with drug possession, it’s crucial to contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. An experienced lawyer like Johann Hall can help you understand your rights, build a strong defense, and navigate the legal process to achieve the best possible outcome.

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