While California is light years ahead of many states in its prosecution of minor drug offenses, including the legalization of medical marijuana, there are many instances where individuals arrested with trace amounts of drugs are subject to extended prison sentences. While recent law changes in California now provide for reduced sentencing and options to avoid convictions, you must meet a set criteria to qualify for these alternatives. An experienced San Jose drug possession lawyer will be able to assist you in determining what type of penalty range you may qualify for.
Drug Possession in California
California imposes penalties on the possession of most controlled substances, with the exception being marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Possession in California means that the person has physical and personal control over the controlled substance. However, possession can also mean that the person is aware that they have a controlled substance in their home or in their car, even though not on their person.
California separates controlled substances into six different schedules:
|Schedule||Type of Substance|
|Schedule I||Heroin, Marijuana, and LSD|
|Schedule II||Raw opium, Cocaine, morphine|
|Schedule III||Anabolic steroids and Ketamine|
|Schedule IV||Diazepam and sedatives|
|Schedule V||Low amounts of Codeine|
Drug Possession Penalties
The penalties for drug possession in California depend largely on the type of substance you are arrested with. In 2014, California voters approved Proposition 47, which changed the status of many drug possession charges to misdemeanors, from felonies. This initiative impacted possession of cocaine and heroin, although other controlled substances will remain a felony offense. However, after the passing of this law, inmates who are currently serving prison time for minor drug offenses may petition a court for resentencing.
While many drug possession offenses have been reduced thanks to Proposition 47, you can still face years in prison depending on the total amount of controlled substance found in your possession. A potential punishment range may also be increased if you have a prior conviction on your criminal record.
An accused may be able to avoid conviction through deferred entry of judgment. This method is only available for certain drug offenses, although is available for any offenses as a juvenile. Under deferred entry of judgment, the defendant will plead guilty, although the court does not enter a judgment. Therefore, a conviction will not be a part of your record.
Proposition 36 was approved in 2000, and allowed qualifying California defendants to receive probation rather than incarceration for non-violent drug possession offenses. However, similar to deferred entry of judgment, the defendant must abide by a distinct set of rules. Failure to follow these conditions could result in a revocation of the probation, and a sentence will be imposed.
Ahmed and Sukaram Law | San Jose Drug Possession Lawyer
If you have been arrested on suspicion of drug possession, do not hesitate to contact the attorneys of Ahmed and Sukaram. The mere fact that your life can change in an instant for the small offense of holding miniscule amounts of a controlled substance on your person is a mind-boggling reality throughout most of the United States. Our criminal defense attorneys have years of experience in handling drug possession cases and will work tirelessly to ensure you receive the justice you deserve. Contact our San Jose office today for your initial free consultation.