Drug Offenses in California
The state of California has strict drug laws and drug sentences. The sentences given for a guilty finding depend significantly on the circumstances and the charge. For some drug charges in the state of California, there is also the option for alternative sentencing. I have represented all types of drug cases — from H&S 11357(b) Possession of less than an ounce of Marijuana to Federal and State cases involving hundreds of kilos of cocaine, marijuana, and multi-pound and kilo cases involving heroin, methamphetamine, and ecstasy.
Charges for Drug Offenses in California
1- Drug Possession – Misdemeanor — According to California law, possession of drugs listed in the California Health and Safety Code or drug-related items and being under the influence of drugs are Drug Possession Misdemeanor charges. To be found guilty, prosecutors in the case must prove an individual was in control of the drug at the time of the arrest. Drugs include Cocaine and Heroin H&S 11350, Methamphetamine H&S 11377(a), LSD H&S 11377(a), Ecstasy H&S 11377 and H&S 11357(c) Possession of more than an ounce of Marijuana.
2- Drug Possession with the Intention to Sell — Charges for drug possession with the intention to sell can be made for all drugs, including Marijuana, and are felonies. Marijuana H&S 11358, Cocaine H&S 11351 Methamphetamines, LSD, Ecstasy H&S 11378,
3- Drug Sales / Transportation / Trafficking / Major Narcotics — An individual can be charged in the state of California with a drug trafficking charge even if he/she is not directly transporting the drugs. If an individual is helping with the sale of narcotics or purchasing drugs, one can be charged with a felony charge of conspiracy or aiding and abetting. Those arrested with substantial amounts of a drug may be charged with weight enhancements and classified as a major narcotic transaction. These weight enhancements add additional punishment to the sentences of those convicted of the charge and enhancement. Marijuana H&S 11359, Cocaine H&S 11352 Methamphetamines, LSD, Ecstasy H&S 11379,
5- Manufacturing Drugs — An individual will receive a felony charge for the development, processing or manufacturing of drugs in any way. Health and Safety Code 11379.6 is California’s law against manufacturing controlled substances is punishable by three, five or seven years in the California state prison and a maximum fine of $50,000.3
Penalties for Drug Charges in California
1- Misdemeanor Charges — The maximum sentence an individual can receive for a misdemeanor drug possession charge in the state of California is one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
2- Felony Charges — A felony charge is more severe and comes with stricter penalties with a guilty finding. In the majority of cases, the judge takes into consideration the following when setting the sentence for a criminal offense:
> Base term, or range of sentencing in California for the offense;
> The presence of extenuating circumstances surrounding the crime, including the involvement of children and if somebody physically suffered or died as a result of the charged individual’s actions; and
> Prior criminal history of the defendant.
3- For information regarding sentence ranges for particular drug charges, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I am happy to email you back.
For non-violent drug offenders, a treatment program is highly recommended. This alternative sentencing gives an individual a penalty that does not appear as a felony on his/her record. Alternative sentencing options include:
1- Drug Court – A nationally recognized program that requires participants to undergo an intensive drug treatment program. Upon completion of the program, the case will be dismissed.
2- Diversion – Also known as a deferred entry of judgment, a defendant pleads guilty but agrees to participate in education classes. If completed, the case is dismissed after 18 months.
3- Proposition 36 – In July 2000, California voters passed Proposition 36. This Proposition allows first and second-time drug offenders to receive substance abuse treatment instead of jail time.