Criminal Defense

Is Drug Possession a Felony in California? Here’s What You Need to Know

By September 27, 2020No Comments

When California passed Proposition 47 in 2014, all simple drug possessions were reclassified as misdemeanors, punishable by up to one year in jail. Small amounts of controlled substances, such as heroin or certain medications without a valid prescription found in your possession may be considered “possession for personal use,” as defined by HS 11350. However, charges relating to the possession or transportation of a controlled substance for sale are considered felonies, and it’s essential that you seek legal representation right away.

Possession of a Controlled Substance For Sale

Depending on the quantity of the controlled substance and other factors present at the time of your arrest, prosecutors may elevate the charges from simple possession—a misdemeanor offense— to possession with intent to distribute, which is considered a felony. If convicted, you could face two to four years in county jail, a fine of up to $20,000, or both. In order to prove that you intended to distribute the substance in your possession, prosecutors often point to the quantity of the substance in question, the presence of scales, baggies, or other indicators of your intention to package the substance, and evidence of multiple individuals visiting your residence for short periods of time. 

Sale or Transportation of a Controlled Substance

California law expressly prohibits the sale or transportation of controlled substances, including heroin, cocaine, LSD, and also prescribed opiates like oxycodone. If you’re accused of moving one of these substances from one location to another with the intent to distribute it, you may face felony charges. Under California’s Health and Safety Code 11352, a conviction carries a penalty of between three to five years in jail and/or a fine of $20,000 (the penalty can go up to nine years if transporting between non-contiguous counties). Prosecutors will attempt to demonstrate that you transported the substance with the intention of distributing it, but you and your criminal defense attorney can use several strategies to fight these allegations.

Seek Legal Counsel Right Away

No matter the circumstances of your arrest, facing drug-related charges can be stressful. As soon as you can, contact a skilled criminal defense attorney who can help you understand your rights. Remember, you do not have to go through this challenging time on your own. Your attorney will work diligently by your side to secure you the best possible outcome given the specifics of your case. 

If you are facing drug-related charges in Los Angeles County, Ventura County, Orange County, or San Bernardino County, call Wegman & Levin at (818) 980-4000 today to arrange a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Michael M. Levin, Esq.

Michael M. Levin, Esq.

Michael M. Levin is an experienced attorney who has been in private practice as a criminal defense lawyer for over 25 years. He has conducted numerous jury trials in cases ranging from DUI to capital murder. Read More