What Does Possession of a Controlled Substance Mean in California?
November 24, 2023 | Ahmed & Sukaram, Attorneys at Law
California has many laws that deal with everything from possession to manufacturing and distributing drugs. California Health and Safety Code §11350(a), for instance, makes possession of a controlled substance a crime. A possession offense under this statute is often referred to as possession for personal use or simple possession.
What Is Possession of a Controlled Substance in California?
Generally, possession of a controlled substance means that you have under your control or in your possession a drug that has been made illegal to possess by federal and/or state law without a valid prescription. For the prosecutor to obtain a conviction for possession charges, they must prove the following criminal elements:
- You had possession of a controlled substance;
- For which you did not have a legal prescription;
- You knew about the existence of the substance;
- You knew the nature of the item as a controlled substance; and,
- The amount of the controlled substance in your possession was a usable amount.
Controlled substances are drugs and chemicals regulated by the United States Controlled Substances Act. Examples of controlled substances include, but are not limited to, LSD, cocaine, and heroin. The law also applies to prescription medications such as Valium, hydrocodone, Xanax, ketamine, and oxycodone.
Possession does not necessarily mean you have the substance on your person. You can be arrested for drug possession of a controlled substance if you have control over the substance. Control refers to personal control of the substance or control through another person.
The prosecutor must also prove that you knew about the presence of a controlled substance and you knew the substance was a controlled substance. You must also have a usable amount of the controlled substance in your possession to be charged under this code section.
What Are the Penalties for a Conviction of a Controlled Substance in California?
Generally, possession of a controlled substance under California Health and Safety Code §11350 is a misdemeanor offense. Therefore, the maximum penalty for a conviction is a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to one year in county jail.
An experienced Redwood City criminal defense lawyer might be able to negotiate a plea deal that would avoid jail time. In some instances, your attorney may negotiate to dismiss the charges if you complete a PC §1000 drug diversion program or complete a drug treatment program through a California drug court.
However, it is essential to note that possession of controlled substances could result in a felony charge. You could be prosecuted for a felony offense if you have a prior conviction for a serious felony or sex crime. The penalties for felony convictions can be much more severe.
What Defenses Can I Use Against Charges of Possession of Controlled Substances in Redwood City, CA?
A skilled Redwood City drug defense lawyer works to develop a defense strategy that gives you the best chance of dismissing the drug charges or being acquitted. Several defenses might apply in your case, such as:
- You had a legally obtained lawful prescription for the controlled substance from a licensed medical provider with the authority to prescribe controlled substances.
- You never had actual or constructive possession of the controlled substance.
- You were not aware that the substance in your possession was a controlled narcotic or drug.
- The police officers violated your Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures.
The state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements of a possession charge. Therefore, a common defense strategy is attacking one or more legal elements.
Even though the state has the burden of proving its case, hiring a Redwood City drug crime lawyer to represent you in court is wise. Never trust that the judicial system will “get it right” when you are innocent. Innocent people need criminal defense lawyers as much as someone who admits they committed the crime and pleads guilty.
Crimes That Are Related to Drug Possession in California
Possession of a controlled substance might not be the only criminal offense you could face. In addition to charging you with possession, the prosecutor may charge you with additional crimes. Drug crimes related to possession charges include, but are not limited to:
- Being under the influence of a controlled substance
- Sale and transportation of controlled substances
- Possession of a controlled substance with the intent to sell
If you are arrested on drug charges, do not assume you can avoid jail time by agreeing to a plea deal. The prosecutor is more interested in a conviction than helping you out. It is always wise to talk with a lawyer as soon as possible after being arrested for drug crimes in Redwood City, CA.
Contact Our Criminal Defense Law Firm of Ahmed & Sukaram, Attorneys at Law Today For Help.
Ahmed & Sukaram, Attorneys at Law – San Jose Office
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Ahmed & Sukaram, Attorneys at Law – Redwood City Office
600 Allerton St Suite 201G, Redwood City, CA 94063