Drug possession crimes vary in magnitude. Simple possession of a small amount of marijuana has been decriminalized; however, possession of that same drug for sale can result in criminal penalties. If you’ve been charged with drug possession, you need a dedicated drug possession lawyer working for you who understands the law. Attorney Elliot Silver has successfully defended many clients facing drug possession charges. He knows how the prosecutor will address your case from start to finish. He can help you battle the California criminal justice system and move forward with your life after the case is over.
If you would like to discuss your charges with a seasoned and experienced Oakland drug lawyer, contact Silver Law Firm right away. Call today at (510) 995-0000.
K.M. – Oakland
Possession of a Controlled Substance in California
Drugs that are illegal to possess or manufacture under California Health and Safety Code 11350 HS and Safety Code 11377 are also named in The United States Controlled Substances Act. These laws identify illegal drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine, as well as establish the law against illegal possession of prescription drugs.
Illegal marijuana possession is identified by Health and Safety Code 11357. While California has legalized some types of simple possession of marijuana, it is still illegal to possess the drug if you are under 21 years old, near a school in session, or if you carry more than an ounce on you.
Possession occurs when all of these four elements are proven to be true:
You have exercised control over, or have the right to control, the substance.
You know of the substance’s presence.
You know that the drug is a controlled substance.
There is a sufficient quantity of the drug to be used as a controlled substance.
State law regulates prescription drugs by making it illegal to possess certain medications without a valid prescription. These tend to be medications that are often abused or sold on the street. Some examples include:
- Clonazepam or Klonopin
- Lorazepam or Ativan
Penalties for Violations of California’s Drug Possession Laws
Prior to the passing of Proposition 47 in 2014, a violation of Health and Safety Code 11350 was a felony offense. Currently, however, a violation of California’s possession of controlled substances law is a misdemeanor. These crimes can still result in a punishment that greatly affects your life. A misdemeanor drug possession charge can result in up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
Having a prior criminal record may result in a drug possession charge being filed as a felony. This includes if you are a registered sex offender or if you have been convicted of a felony such as murder, vehicular manslaughter, or sex crimes against a child under 14 years of age. A felony drug possession conviction can result in up to three years in prison.
Your drug possession attorney might be able to get you into a drug diversion program. These opportunities allow you to attend drug treatment programs instead of going to jail. If you successfully complete the program as ordered by the court, your drug charges will be dropped, and your record can be sealed. These programs are not offered to everyone arrested on drug possession charges, so it’s important to discuss with your attorney whether you qualify for drug court.
Possession of Drugs for Sale
While simple drug possession charges often result in minor penalties, if you are convicted of possession of drugs for sale, you may face greater consequences. In order to prove that you possessed drugs with the intent to sell, the prosecutor must have direct or circumstantial (indirect proof) evidence, which may include:
- You directly state that you have drugs to sell
- You offer drugs for sale to someone
- The amount of drugs that you possess is more than would be expected for personal use
- The drugs are packaged in baggies or containers
- You also possess equipment used to weigh, measure, or distribute drugs
- You are located in a place where drug sales commonly occur
- You have a lot of cash or keep weapons near the drugs
- You have a history of selling drugs
Penalties for drug possession for sale vary greatly and depend on the drug being sold. For example, possessing marijuana with intent to sale is a misdemeanor crime that can result in up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $500. However, possession of methamphetamines and other hard drugs could result in up to four years in prison.
Defenses to Drug Possession Charges
A skilled criminal defense attorney in Oakland will employ one or several arguments in your defense. Depending on the details of your case, some of the following defenses can be used:
- You have a valid prescription for the substance in question. As long as you have a valid prescription allowing you to possess the drug, you cannot be found guilty.
- You did not have knowledge of the drugs in your possession. If someone left drugs in your possession without your knowledge, you are not in violation of the law.
- You were searched illegally. There are many ways that police can violate your rights while searching you or your property. One example of these illegal search tactics is that the cop didn’t have a warrant when one was needed.
Silver Law Firm Will Help You
A conviction for drug crimes can sometimes result in jail time, a large fine, and a criminal record. Additionally, it may affect your career, family life, and overall quality of life. In this stressful time, you need an attorney on your side who will fight for your rights, freedom, and reputation. Attorney Elliot Silver understands what drug possession charges can do to your life, and he is dedicated to defending you.