Riverside Drug Attorney
The potential penalties for drug and narcotics charges can vary greatly and depend on a host of variables.
On this page, we’ll:
- examine California drug laws and discuss the potential penalties;
- give you insight on the most common drug and narcotics charges in California; and
- talk about strategies that have been successful in lessoning penalties and even keeping charges from appearing on our clients’ records.
There are a host of possible charges related to drugs and narcotics, but the ones with the most serious consequences are drug manufacturing, trafficking and possession for sale. These can include possession of controlled substances and drug paraphernalia, and being under the influence of illegal drugs and controlled substances.
What does California drug law say about controlled substances?
Possession of controlled substances – which generally are drugs and/or chemicals regulated by the government – are addressed in 11350 of the California Health and Safety Code. This can include possession of prescription drugs like Vicodin, codeine and Oxycontin without a proper prescription. This law also includes the prohibition of narcotics, like cocaine, meth, heroin, LSD and crack cocaine.
The key word is “possession,” because it can mean different things.
- “Actual possession” means that the substance in question has been found by police on your person.
- “Constructive possession” relates to the substance being found on your property, and that you have control over it.
- “Joint possession” occurs when you and two (2) or more others share constructive possession. A good example of this is if the substances are discovered in a car’s console.
What are the penalties for possession of a controlled substance in California?
If you’re convicted of possession of a controlled substance, you could be sentenced to up to one (1) year in jail, probation or two-to-three (2-3 years) in California State Prison.
If there was no violence involved in the case, however, many people who are convicted of possession actually qualify for Proposition 36 (Prop 36), which means they serve their penalty in a drug treatment program rather than jail.
What are successful defenses to possession of a controlled substance?
While being charged is one thing, actually being convicted is another matter. And because “possession” is the key word, it’s up to the prosecution to prove beyond doubt that you indeed had possession – which can be difficult.
Most successful defense strategies for this charge depend upon chipping away at the term “possession,” and include:
- your having a valid prescription from a licensed medical personnel (this can include your doctor, dentist, podiatrist or even your veterinarian);
- the substances or drugs being in your possession without your knowledge;
- you possessed the substance for merely a short period of time – which is legal, provided that your intent was to destroy or dispose of the substance and had no intention of hiding it from police; and
- police officers failed to follow proper procedures during the search and seizure of the substance (this can include failure to read you your Miranda rights, not having probable cause to make the search, and illegally conducted search).
What does California drug law say about manufacturing of drugs and narcotics?
The specifics of the manufacturing of drugs and narcotics are covered in 11379.6 of the California Health and Safety Code. Rather than being concerned with “possession” of a drug or narcotic, the focus of this law is on the actual process of manufacturing them.
The most common example of this is operation of a meth lab, but it can also relate to the manufacture or attempted manufacture (chemical extraction or chemical synthesis) of any controlled substance.
Merely offering to manufacture a drug or narcotic is a illegal.
What are the penalties for about manufacturing of drugs and narcotics in California?
Conviction of the manufacturing of drugs and narcotics is a felony in California – it’s serious business. The potential penalties include three-to-seven (3-7 years) in county jail and fines of up to $50,000.
Additional penalties can – and most likely will – be added if children are either living in the location where the drugs or narcotics are manufactured or are harmed in the process.
More penalties could also be added if another adult is injured because of your actions, you have previous convictions revolving around drug-related crimes or other crimes are committed during the manufacturing of the drugs or narcotics.
What are successful defenses to the manufacturing of drugs or narcotics in California?
As in cases involving possession of drugs or narcotics, the prosecution has the burden of proof in making the charges against you stick. There are, however, quite a few successful defense strategies to position you for the best possible outcome.
These include, but are not limited to:
- you were merely preparing to manufacture the drugs or narcotics but changed your mind (until you’ve actually manufactured the components, you’re not in actual violation of the law);
- the drugs you possessed were actually for personal consumption;
- someone else was doing the manufacturing, and you weren’t aware that it was happening on your property; and
- police didn’t have a valid search warrant or probable cause.
What does California law say about possession of drug paraphernalia?
Details of this offense are covered under 11364 of the California Health and Safety Code. Specifically, this law – which is a misdemeanor – states that it’s illegal to “possess an opium pipe or any device, instrument or paraphernalia used for unlawfully injecting or smoking a controlled substance.
Examples of paraphernalia include crack pipes, needles, bongs and spoons for cocaine.
What are the penalties for possession of drug paraphernalia in California?
Again, this is a misdemeanor charge, which typically carries a maximum sentence of six (6) months of jail time.
Like possession of a controlled substance, though, if there’s no violence involved in the case, you’ll probably qualify for Proposition 36 (Prop 36), which means you’ll instead serve your penalty in a drug treatment program rather than jail.
What are successful defenses to the drug paraphernalia charge in California?
You’d be surprised at the number of instances in which drug paraphernalia is confiscated by police officers via improper searches. If this is true of your case, a qualified defense attorney should have no problem having the case dismissed.
Other successful defenses for this charge include:
- your being unaware that the paraphernalia was present; and
- you possessed the materials strictly for personal use and for legal purposes, like smoking tobacco.
What does California law say about being under the influence of a controlled substance?
Details for this charge are covered under 11550 of the California Health and Safety Code. Specifically, this law says that it’s illegal – and a misdemeanor – to be “under the influence of a controlled substance.”
While this can include legal medications like valium or Ambien without a prescription, it also includes meth, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and others.
What are the penalties for being under the influence of a controlled substance in California?
Again, this is a misdemeanor charge, which means you’d be facing a maximum of one (1) year in county jail or participation in the Prop 36 program.
What are successful defenses to the being under the influence charge in California?
Successful defenses of this charge include:
- you actually having a legal prescription;
- someone else drugged you without your knowledge; and
- you weren’t actually under the influence but, rather, you were tired or experienced other symptoms similar to that of being impaired.
If you’ve facing charges for drugs or narcotics in Riverside or the Los Angeles area, call Sharp Criminal Lawyers.
While each case is different, senior trial attorney, Stephen Sweigart at Sharp Criminal Lawyers will work with you and develop a strategy to minimize the impact of these charges. His 20 years experience can make a difference in the outcome of your case.
You can reach us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for Free legal info by phone at 951-777-1111 or via email.