Are you facing allegations of drug possession? Scott Mitchell Law Incorporated can help. Over the years, our firm has handled more than 3,000 legal cases. Today, we are ready to put this experience to work for your case. If you were charged with possessing an illegal drug or controlled substance, you need an attorney with the skill to create an aggressive defense strategy to protect your rights in court.
Drug Possession Laws in California
Drug possession is one of the most common drug crimes in the United States. In California, drug possession laws can be very complicated. According to California Health & Safety Code, § 11350, it is unlawful to possess any controlled substance that was not obtained through a prescription. If convicted of drug possession under this law, you could face up to one year in a county jail. Additionally, you first drug possession offense is punishable by a $1,000 fine, community service, and probation. Subsequent offenses are punishable by a fine totaling at least $2,000 or community service. The judge will order community service if you are unable to pay the fine.
California Marijuana Laws
Marijuana possession is unlawful according to California Health & Safety Code, § 11357. According to the law, your first marijuana possession conviction is punishable by ten days of incarceration and a $500 fine. However, these penalties only apply if you are convicted of possessing more than 28.5 grams of marijuana. Possessing less than 28.5 grams of marijuana is considered and infraction and is punishable by a maximum fine of $100. If a minor is convicted of possessing more than 20.5 grams of marijuana, he/she is subject to 10 days of incarceration in a detention center and a maximum fine of $250. Possessing more than 28.5 grams of marijuana is considered a misdemeanor crime and is punishable by six months in jail and a $500 fine.
If law enforcement suspects that you carried marijuana on your person with the intention to distribute it, you could be accused of a felony crime. Marijuana possession with the intention to distribute is a felony offense, punishable by up to three months of incarceration. Most California marijuana possession laws exclude has and marijuana concentrates. If convicted of possessing a marijuana concentrate, you could face one year of incarceration and a $500 fine. Additionally, it is unlawful to sell, delivery, manufacture, or possess drug paraphernalia. If convicted drug paraphernalia possession, you could face up to six months in jail. If minor is involved, you could be sentenced to one year of incarceration and a $1,000 fine. However, this law only applies if the minor is at least three years younger than you.
Types of Drug Possession
California law defines three types of drug possession: actual, constructive, and joint possession.
- Actual Possession – You have actual possession of a drug when the controlled substance is in your immediate, physical control. You could have actual possession of a drug if it is physically in the palm of your hand or somewhere on your person. You can be accused of actual possession if the drug is in your pocket, handbag, backpack, or briefcase. Actual possession also includes drugs that were ingested. This type of drug offense is one of the most difficult drug possession crimes to defend in court.
- Constructive Possession – The term "constructive possession" refers to any scenario in which law enforcement found drugs in an area that you had control over – such as your house or car. Constructive possession can be difficult to prove in court. Police may discover drugs in your car, but this doesn't mean that you were aware of them or that you put them in the vehicle. Constructive possession alone does not provide adequate evidence tom merit a drug possession conviction.
- Joint Possession – According to California law, two people can possess drugs at the same time. This is called "joint possession." You could be faced with a joint possession charge if police found a controlled substance in your home. Even if the drug belonged to someone else, you could be accused of joint possession simply because you were aware of the illegal drug in the house. In other words, you could be accused of joint drug possession simply because you knew about the illegal substance.
Understanding "Knowledge" and Drug Possession
You cannot be convicted of drug possession without knowledge of the drug. According to California law, there the term "knowledge" must involve the following facts.
1. You were aware of the controlled substance
2. You knew that the drug was illegal
If law enforcement cannot show that you were aware (or should have been aware) or the drug, you cannot be convicted of drug possession. For example, you might accidently take an illegal drug at a friend's house because you assumed that I was an over-the-counter medication. Similarly, a friend might leave an illegal drug under the seat of your car. Although you were in control of the vehicle, you were not necessarily aware of drug.
Drug Possession Defense in Modesto and the Central Valley
Our firm is committed to providing aggressive and effective legal representation to the criminally accused in Modesto and the surrounding areas. We believe that everyone has the right to high-quality legal assistance. That's why our firm has provided legal guidance to clients in more than 4,000 cases. Our Modesto criminal defense lawyer seeks to understand each client as an individual – not a case. Call our office today or fill out a free, online case evaluation form to see what the firm can do for you. We offer experienced legal representation at affordable rates, so contact us today and take the first step toward the legal help that you need.