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How Are Drug Possession Charges Punished in California?

Posted on in Drug Crimes

San Jose criminal defense attorneySeveral laws have been enacted over the years to combat the import of drugs into California, as well as the sale and distribution of illicit substances within the state. This is all in an effort to eliminate drug abuse and drug-related crimes. Proposition 47 was enacted in 2014, which made certain drug possession offenses a misdemeanor.

In 2016, Proposition 64 legalized recreational marijuana use for adults, but it is still illegal to possess most other controlled substances. Under the California Health and Safety Code, the penalties for drug possession are based on the type of drug and the kind of possession.

Drug Possession Categories

There are two main classifications of drug possession in California: simple possession, which is typically charged as a misdemeanor and possession with the intent to sell, which can be a felony. The three subcategories of drug possession are as follows:

  • Actual: This category alleges that a person was in actual and physical control of a controlled substance. This means an officer found the drugs in someone’s pocket or on his or her body.
  • Constructive: The controlled substance was found in a location that an individual could easily access. For instance, if drugs were stored in a motorist’s vehicle.
  • Joint: The offender and one or more people own the drug together. This charge typically applies if the drugs are found in a place where two or more people have constructive possession of the substances.

California’s Three Strikes Law applies to violent felony drug charges. This means that if someone has three violent drug and/or other serious and violent offenses on his or her record, the punishments can be 25 years to life in prison.

Drug Possession Penalties

Simple possession of drugs such as narcotics, opiates, cocaine can result in up to one year in a county jail and a fine of $1,000. The felony punishments for drug possession with the intent to sell or distribute include:

  • Up to one year in county jail
  • Between two to four years in a California state prison
  • A maximum $20,000 fine
  • Additional sentencing of three to 25 to years for heroin or cocaine depending on the amount

Contact a Milpitas Criminal Defense Lawyer

Although most drug crimes committed in California are misdemeanors, they can carry significant penalties. The Law Offices of Erik Steven Johnson understand how any criminal offense can impact your future by damaging your personal and professional reputation. Our competent Santa Clara County drug crimes defense attorneys have more than 10 years of experience advocating for our clients best interests. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 408-246-3004.



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