Drug Possession Charge

Being arrested for illegally possessing drugs, either for possessing illegal drugs or for possessing prescription drugs without a prescription, typically leads to criminal prosecution, even if the amount of the drugs is very small. A person who is convicted of illegally possessing drugs will be required to register as a drug offender under Health & Safety Code Section 11590. This can lead to the DMV seeking to revoke or suspend a person’s driver’s license.

There are many drug diversion programs available to persons who are prosecuted for illegally possessing drugs. Statewide programs include:

  • the Deferred Entry of Judgment program (also referred to as DEJ, PC 1000 and drug diversion)
  • and Prop 36.
  • Many of the counties have their own drug courts that are in addition to DEJ and Prop 36.

Eligibility for these programs varies and there are some very distinct advantages to some programs over others. For example, a person who successfully completes the DEJ program is not convicted of the charge and, for most defendants, they will not be required to report to their employer or prospective employer the arrest or that they are in the DEJ program.

It is important that your attorney is knowledgeable about each program that is available to you and knows which program is most beneficial to you now and in the future.

A person who is charged with drug transportation may still be eligible for DEJ and Prop 36 depending upon the facts and the quality of representation. A person who is convicted of possession for sale or for sales of drugs will never be eligible for any of the drug diversion programs. A person charged with possession for sale or for sales of drugs is typically eligible for one or more of the drug diversion programs if the plea agreement is negotiated down to simple possession of drugs for personal use.

Drug possession“ typically means that you were caught with physical possession of the substance. It can also mean that drugs were found on your property and you had prior knowledge of their existence.

In California, criminal drug charges brought in state court are derived from California’s health and safety codes classifying controlled substances on a scale ranging from Schedule I to Schedule V.

  • Schedule I substances — Materials listed in the first schedule are regarded as the most dangerous and include heroin, marijuana, LSD, peyote and cocaine base.
  • Schedule II substances — These substances are considered the second-most dangerous variety and include cocaine, amphetamines and oxycodone.
  • Schedule III substances — The materials ranked in the third schedule include anabolic steroids, ketamine, codeine and common depressants like Secobarbital.
  • Schedule IV substances — Schedule IV materials have a lesser risk of addiction or dependency and include tranquilizers and sedatives.
  • Schedule V substances — The lowest level of California’s drug schedule applies to prescription drugs that may contain small amounts of substances listed in schedules I through IV.

Punishments for Drug Possession

Penalties and sentencing for drug possession depends on the type and amount of the drug. Simple possession of any of these controlled substances can result in a one year jail sentence. However, drug possession for sale is a much harsher penalty.

If you have possession of the ingredients used to manufacture methamphetamines or other drugs with intent, it is a felony punishable with 2-6 years in prison.