Drug Possession in Orange County

Have you been arrested or charged with possession?

Have you been arrested for drug possession? You may face felony or misdemeanor charges depending on the circumstances. Either way, you will need an aggressive Anaheim drug crime attorney on your side. The Law Office of Barney B. Gibbs provides defense representation for individuals arrested or charged with the following drug possession crimes:

  • Being under the influence of a controlled substance
  • Possession of methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, etc.
  • Possession of marijuana (may only be charged as an infraction)
  • Possession of medical cannabis or drug without a valid prescription
  • Possession with intent to sell

Drug possession can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, which means it is a "wobbler" in the state of California. All drugs crimes are aggressively prosecuted in Orange County, so if you have been arrested, ensure that you have a lawyer you can trust in your corner.

Types of Drug Possession Charges & Penalties

In the state of California, drug possession charges can range in severity based on three major factors:

  1. Quantity of the controlled substance
  2. Type or "Schedule" of the controlled substance
  3. Any prior offenses/convictions

If this is your first arrest for a possession-related offense, according to § 11377 of the California Health and Safety Code, "Any person who…unlawfully possesses a controlled substance specified in subdivision (f) of § 11056, and who has not previously been convicted of a violation involving a controlled substance specified in subdivision (f) of § 11056, is guilty of a misdemeanor." Most simple possession offenses are charged as misdemeanors in California.

California drug laws can be confusing and they are constantly changing. For example, possession of a methamphetamine for personal use can either be a misdemeanor or a felony, but possession of heroin or cocaine for personal use is always a felony. Recently, with Senate Bill 649 passing, individual jurisdictions in California have greater flexibility with drug charges and sentencing for possession-specific drug charges. For a more thorough explanation of your charges and California drug law, contact The Law Office of Barney B. Gibbs for a free consultation.

Actual, Constructive and Joint Possession

There are three classifications of possession in the state of California:

  • Actual Possession: This means that, by way of a search/seizure, law enforcement found a controlled substance on your person (i.e. pockets, purse, etc.).
  • Constructive Possession: This type of possession means that, while the drugs were not on your physical person, they were discovered in a place that you own/have control over such as a car or a house.
  • Joint Possession: This can involve the actual or constructive possession of a controlled substance that is shared by two or more parties.

In order to be convicted of any class or type of possession charge, the state must prove that you had knowledge of the drug's presence, there was enough of the drug for use as a controlled substance and knowledge that the substance was illegal.

Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance

California has a law specifically against being "under the influence" of an illegal controlled substance that is found in the Health and Safety Code § 11550. This is a misdemeanor offense that can warrant 90 days to one year in jail. In order to prove that you were under a drug's influence, a law enforcement officer may require that, after a lawful arrest, you submit to a blood or urine test. If you are "under the influence" of a drug, consequently it is assumed that you possessed and used the drug of your own volition.

Possession for Sale

Under the California Health and Safety Code, possession with intent to sell an illegal narcotic is a more serious possession offense than possession for personal use. This is a felony offense in California. Possession for sale can result in lengthy prison sentences and thousands of dollars in fines. Those facing possession for sale convictions are not eligible for drug diversion. A person might be charged with possession for sale if,

  • You possessed large quantities of the drug (more than would indicate personal use)
  • Drug paraphernalia was also found/seized such as:
    • Scales
    • Packaging materials
    • Large amounts of cash

If you have been arrested for this serious felony drug offense, contact an Anaheim drug lawyer at this firm as soon as possible. We may be able to get your possession for sale reduced to a lesser drug charge or even dismissed completely.

Drug Diversion Programs: CPC 1000

There is good news for those who have been arrested for their first drug offense in the state of California. In California, there is something called a drug diversion program or "Deferred Entry of Judgment" (DEJ) which could help you avoid formal penalties and a conviction. In order to qualify for the DEJ or a similar program under California Penal Code (CPC) 1000, individuals must prove that they meet certain standards. Those can include proving simple possession rather than possession for sale. The simple possession charge may also not involve any violence or assault (threatened violence).

The way DEJ works is that the person charged for drug possession must agree to plead guilty to this offense. Pleading guilty might sound negative, and in many cases it is, but a guilty plea by someone who qualified for DEJ might mean that their conviction never becomes final. The "deferred" in Deferred Entry of Judgment means that the conviction is suspended until the completion of a drug diversion program. If the individual who pled guilty successfully completes an approved drug diversion program, then the sentencing will never take place. On the other hand, if someone qualifies for DEJ but fails to successfully complete the program, they will likely be arrested and then sentenced for drug possession.

Aggressive, Experienced Defense Counsel

If you would like to learn more about drug possession charges and the defense that is available to you, reach out to an Anaheim criminal attorney as soon as possible. Drug possession offenses are also time sensitive, and it is best to involve an attorney early on in the case for the best chances at success. Fight your conviction and contact our firm today!

Visit some of our blogs for additional information about drug possession:

Is Drug Possession an Indictable Offense?
Felony Possession of Narcotics
Is Marijuana Legal in California?
Mandatory Minimum Drug Sentencing