California Drug Laws and Penalties

California drug laws and penalties

California's drug laws encompass many offenses, from simple possession to manufacturing and trafficking. Suppose you are facing criminal charges that involve drugs in any capacity. In that case, it is important to understand your rights, what steps you should take next, and the possible consequences associated with these violations, a DUI conviction related to drugs may have serious repercussions - regardless of whether or not this was your first offense.

At Hurwitz Law Group, we provide comprehensive legal guidance for those charged with drug crimes in California. Our experienced attorneys can help explain state law regarding controlled substances and inform you about the differences between misdemeanors and felonies, plus potential punishments for each type of violation.

We strive to ensure that everyone understands their options when dealing with such sensitive matters so they can make informed decisions about how best to defend themselves going forward.

What You Need To Know About California Drug Laws

What you need to know about drug laws

Understanding California drug laws and California health regulations is essential, especially for those facing charges related to drug possession, distribution, or manufacturing. Here are some key laws to know:

Health and Safety Code 11350 HS

Under Health and Safety Code 11350 HS, possessing certain controlled substances without a valid prescription is illegal. This includes drugs such as heroin and cocaine and prescription drugs like oxycodone and hydrocodone.

Violating this law can result in a misdemeanor or a felony charge, depending on the circumstances and the defendant's criminal history.

Health and Safety Code 11357 HS

Health and Safety Code 11357 HS regulates the possession of marijuana in California. While recreational marijuana is legal in California, there are still restrictions on possession amounts and where it can be consumed. Violating this law can result in fines or, in some cases, misdemeanor charges.

Health and Safety Code 11377 HS

Health and Safety Code 11377 HS makes it illegal to possess certain controlled substances classified as Schedule III, IV, or V, such as methamphetamine, ketamine, or anabolic steroids, without a valid prescription. As with Health and Safety Code 11350 HS, violations of this law can be charged as either misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the circumstances and the defendant's criminal history.

As someone with less legal experience, it's important to understand the complexities of health codes and regulations. To protect your rights and interests properly, consult a lawyer specialized in this field for guidance.

What Drugs Are Legal in California?

In California, certain drugs are legally accessible for medical or recreational use - such as medical marijuana (for those 21+) and prescriptions from licensed healthcare professionals. But even if these substances are permitted under the law, mishandling them can still lead to criminal charges – so be aware of what you’re using and how it could affect you if consumed incorrectly.

Don't hesitate to ask questions or concerns. Get educated on the subject matter to protect yourself accordingly!

What Drugs Are Illegal in California?

What drugs are illegal in California

While laws have changed recently, many drugs are illegal in California, including but not limited to the following:

  • Heroin: Heroin is an opioid drug made from morphine, a natural substance extracted from the seed pod of certain opium poppy plants. It is a highly addictive substance and can be injected, smoked, or snorted. Heroin use can lead to severe health issues, including respiratory failure, overdose, and death. It is classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use.
  • Cocaine: Cocaine is a powerful stimulant drug derived from the coca plant leaves. It is commonly snorted, smoked, or injected and may cause various health problems, such as heart attack, stroke, and respiratory failure. Cocaine is classified as a Schedule II drug, which means it has a high potential for abuse but may have limited medical uses in some cases.
  • Methamphetamine: Methamphetamine, also known as meth or crystal meth, is a highly addictive stimulant drug that can be smoked, snorted, or injected. It affects the central nervous system and may lead to serious health issues, including heart attack, stroke, and severe dental problems. Methamphetamine is classified as a Schedule II drug in California.
  • LSD: LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) is a powerful hallucinogenic drug typically ingested orally on blotter paper or in tablet form. It can cause significant distortions in a user's perceptions of reality, leading to dangerous behavior and potential harm to themselves or others. LSD is classified as a Schedule I drug, indicating a high potential for abuse, and has no accepted medical use.
  • Ecstasy: Ecstasy, or MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine), is a synthetic psychoactive drug with stimulant and hallucinogenic effects. It is often associated with dance clubs and music festivals and is commonly taken in pill form. Ecstasy can cause various health problems, including dehydration, overheating, and severe anxiety. It is classified as Schedule I drug.
  • Magic Mushrooms: Psilocybin is a naturally occurring hallucinogenic substance found in certain types of mushrooms, often referred to as "magic mushrooms" or "shrooms." When ingested, psilocybin can cause hallucinations, changes in perception, and emotional experiences. While some cities in California have decriminalized the possession of psilocybin, it remains illegal under state law and is classified as a Schedule I drug.

Possession, distribution, or manufacturing of these drugs can result in criminal charges, with penalties varying depending on the specific drug and the defendant's criminal history.

When Is Drug Possession Considered a Misdemeanor?

In California, drug possession can be considered a misdemeanor in several situations, including:

  • Possession of small amounts of a controlled substance for personal use.
  • Possession of marijuana above the allowable limit but not in quantities that indicate intent to sell.
  • First-time offenders with no prior drug-related convictions.

Misdemeanor charges typically carry less severe penalties than felony charges, including shorter jail sentences, lower fines, and less severe long-term consequences.

When Is Drug Possession Considered a Felony?

When is drug possession considered a felony

Drug possession can be considered a felony under certain circumstances, such as:

  • Possession of large quantities of a controlled substance that indicates an intent to sell or distribute.
  • Possession of drugs in conjunction with other criminal activities, such as weapons charges or gang-related activity.
  • Repeat offenders with prior drug-related convictions.

Felony charges typically carry more severe penalties than misdemeanor charges, including lengthier prison sentences, higher fines, and more significant long-term consequences.

What Amount of Drugs Is Considered a Felony in California?

The specific amount of drugs that can lead to a felony charge varies depending on the type of drug and the circumstances surrounding the case. Factors such as the drug's weight or quantity, the defendant's criminal history, and evidence of intent to sell or distribute can all influence whether a possession charge is classified as a felony.

What Is Possession of a Controlled Substance?

What is possession of controlled substance

In California, possession of a controlled substance refers to having control over illegal drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, or other substances listed in the California Uniform Controlled Substances Act.

Possession can be actual, meaning the drugs are physically on the person, or constructive, meaning the drugs are in a location that the person controls, such as their home or vehicle.

How Does California Classify Controlled Substances?

Controlled substances in California are classified into five schedules based on their potential for abuse, medical use, and safety:

  • Schedule I: High potential for abuse, no accepted medical use (e.g., heroin, LSD, ecstasy)
  • Schedule II: High potential for abuse, some accepted medical use (e.g., cocaine, oxycodone, methamphetamine)
  • Schedule III: Moderate to low potential for abuse, accepted medical use (e.g., anabolic steroids, ketamine)
  • Schedule IV: Low potential for abuse, accepted medical use (e.g., Xanax, Valium)
  • Schedule V: Lowest potential for abuse, accepted medical use (e.g., certain cough medicines with codeine)

How Can Proposition 47 Help With Drug Crime Cases?

How can proposition 47 help with drug crime cases

California's historic Proposition 47, passed in 2014, reclassifies non-violent drug and property offenses from felonies to misdemeanors. This means those convicted of drug possession can receive reduced sentences, while individuals with felony convictions could have them retroactively lowered to the less serious charge. 

As a result, this enormously impacts their lives and future prospects – leading to greater opportunities.

How Long Do You Go to Jail for Drug Possession?

The amount of jail time for drug possession varies based on numerous factors: the type of substance involved; how much was held at the time; any prior criminal history, and whether it is classified as a misdemeanor or felony offense. Those found guilty of misdemeanor charges face up to one year in county jail, whereas felonies may lead to several years imprisonment within state prison walls.

What Are the Penalties for Drug Possession in California?

What are the penalties for drug possession

Possession of Controlled Substances, Not Marijuana

Penalties for possessing controlled substances other than marijuana in California can vary depending on the type of drug, the quantity, and the defendant's criminal history. Generally, these penalties can include:

  • Misdemeanor: Up to one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
  • Felony: 16 months, two years, or three years in state prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Possession of Marijuana

Penalties for possessing marijuana in California depend on the amount and the defendant's age. Generally, these penalties can include:

  • Possession of more than 28.5 grams (adults 21 and older): Up to six months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $500.
  • Possession of more than 28.5 grams (individuals aged 18-20): Up to six months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $500, plus mandatory drug education or counseling.
  • Possession of fewer than 28.5 grams (individuals under 18): Community service and drug education or counseling.

Possession of Concentrated Cannabis

Possessing concentrated cannabis, also known as hashish or marijuana concentrates, carries different penalties in California. These penalties can include the following:

  • Misdemeanor (adults 21 and older): Up to one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $500.
  • Misdemeanor (individuals aged 18-20): Up to one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $500, plus mandatory drug education or counseling.
  • Infraction (individuals under 18): Community service and drug education or counseling.

How To Get Drug Possession Charges Dropped?

If you or a loved one has been charged with drug possession, don't panic - several strategies are available that could potentially lead to the charges being dropped or reduced.

To ensure the best possible outcome for your case, make sure to enlist the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney who will evaluate your specific circumstances and determine which course of action will be most effective in fighting for your rights.

Here are some steps worth exploring:

  • Challenge the Legality of Searches. If drugs were discovered during a search by law enforcement, question if any California drug possession laws were broken when searching, as this may provide grounds for dismissal.
  • Show Evidence That Drugs Belonged Elsewhere. Build a strong argument that proves it was not yours, including witness statements testifying about where they saw the drugs before, afterward, and in between.
  • Demonstrate Unawareness. Prove that you did not know their presence on your property. Perhaps someone else had access and brought them without informing you beforehand.
  • Negotiate Plea Deals & Participate in Diversion Programs. A plea deal may involve reducing sentence time, while participating in diversion programs such as counseling sessions may also reduce penalties depending on individual cases.

Contact Our California DUI Lawyers at Hurwitz Law Group To Help You With Your Case

Contact our California DUI lawyers

At Hurwitz Law Group, our skilled California DUI lawyers understand how daunting these charges can be. We are here to offer support every step along the way, so together we can fight towards finding success against pressing matters like drug possession cases!

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