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If you face a drug charge, Lluis Law’s Los Angeles drug possession defense lawyers can help and represent you in court.

Being arrested and convicted of a drug crime carries serious consequences for a person. Especially possession is punishable by severe penalties depending on the amount and type of substance.

With over 50 years of combined experience as criminal defense lawyers, we have successfully acted on hundreds of drug possession, use, and sale cases in Los Angeles and other cities. 

Drug possession defense with the best lawyers in Los Angeles, California

Being arrested on drug possession charges for the first time can be devastating to a person. Possession of drugs and other controlled substances is punishable in California. 

Health and Safety Code 11350 expressly prohibits a person is in possession of prohibited substances. Possession is further regulated by the Federal Controlled Substances Act. 

With the exception of people who have a valid medical prescription for their possession. Some of the drugs and other controlled substances in the United States are:

  • Heroin.
  • Cocaine.
  • Ecstasy.
  • Peyote.
  • Opium.
  • LSD.
  • Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid.
  • Methamphetamines.
  • Ketamine.
  • Marijuana and other hallucinogenic drugs.
  • Illegal possession of prescription drugs.

Among the drugs prescribed to certain people for health reasons we find Vicodin and Codeine.

Possible defenses on drug possession charges

Some of the legal arguments that we, at Lluis Law, use to defend a defendant for possession of narcotics include:

  • Possess a valid medical prescription for the drug. The person is prescribed the prohibited substance for their personal medical treatment. 
  • The police made the arrest illegally. The regular procedure for making the arrest was not followed. The police arrested the person without taking into account that there was no real or constructive possession of the drug. 
  • Temporary possession of the prohibited substance. For example, the father who takes them from his son to destroy them and avoid their consumption. If the person tries to destroy them prior to being arrested, this argument will no longer be valid. 
  • Ignorance of the drug. It may be that the person was unaware that the drugs were in their area of ​​influence or among their belongings. For this defense, the person must have a clean criminal record on drugs.  
  • The drug was found through an illegal procedure. The search and seizure was carried out illegally on a property without a valid court order. 
  • Other cases may be for illegal use of force or for illegal reasons. For example, racial discrimination. The lawyer could file a request for the judge to suppress the evidence based on the illegality of the evidence. 

As discrimination lawyers in Los Angeles we understand this last point very well. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have suffered any type of discrimination.

Drug possession tests 

1. Control over the seized drug. The prosecutor must prove that the person was in possession of the drug in one of these ways: 

  • Joint possession. It is when the drug is in the possession of two or more people. For example, sharing a controlled substance syringe, pipe, or cigarette.
  • Constructive possession. Drug found in a shared area or site over which you have control. For example, a vehicle, a shared room, or a personal locker. Although it was not found in the person’s pockets, it was in a space over which she exercises control.
  • Real possession. The drug or controlled substance was found in the person’s clothing, purse, or body before being arrested.

However, having access to the drug or being near the place where it was found does not constitute sufficient evidence. Not even being with a person who had the controlled substance in her possession. The prosecutor must prove that you had knowledge of the drug to prove joint, constructive, or actual possession.

2. The person knew of the existence of the drug. The prosecution must prove that you were aware of the presence of the drug, otherwise you must be acquitted. 

3. The defendant knew it was a controlled substance. Ignorance about the nature of the drug can lead to an acquittal. A person could have given you the drug in pills that you thought were not prohibited.

4. Sufficient amount of drug. For a drug conviction it must be proven that the substance found is sufficient to be used. It is not enough to find traces or drug residues since they would not produce narcotic effects.

Benefits of hiring a drug lawyer

The benefits of hiring an experienced and capable lawyers in these cases are manifold. Among other things, because he/she deeply knows the law and how the California judicial system operates. 

Knowing how to use every available legal remedy for the benefit of the client is crucial in a successful defense strategy.

Our Los Angeles drug possession defense lawyers will seek to have the charges against you dismissed.

We fight together with the client to safeguard his constitutional rights and prevent him from going to prison. This requires aggressive and competent lawyers who know how to do their job and defend the client.

It is not enough to arrest a person on a drug possession charge to prosecute him for this crime. During a trial, the prosecution must prove possession and ownership of the found drug.

Penalties for possession of controlled substances

Controlled substance law generally considers drug possession a misdemeanor. The 11350 HS code establishes the following general sanctions for this type of offense if:

1. The defendant pleads guilty. It is sanctioned as a misdemeanor and the person is sentenced to one year in prison in a county jail. You could also be fined up to $ 1,000.

2. You have previous felony convictions. If the person has a conviction for any of the following major crimes: 

  • Homicide.
  • Violent sex crimes.
  • Run over with leakage under DUI effects.
  • Sexual crimes against minors.

You may be interested in checking out our Los Angeles hit-and-run attorneys and DUI sections.

In those cases, the person will receive a more severe sanction. That is, prison terms of between 16 months to 3 years in prison. The penalties imposed by the judge will depend on the type and quantity of drugs found. As well as the criminal record of the accused.

A large quantity of drugs in possession of the accused could hardly be considered by the prosecution as personal use. Rather, it could presume that possession of a controlled substance is for sale.

If the court determines possession for sale of a controlled substance in Los Angeles, the penalty increases significantly. California criminal law considers drug possession and sale a felony. 

Penalties according to the type and quantity of the drug

The amount and type of drug seized is important for the purpose of establishing the sanction. Here are some related to drug possession in Los Angeles:  

Marijuana possession – HS 11357

Possession of marijuana in California is classified as a “wobblet,” meaning a misdemeanor or offense. If the person has a prescription or authorization for use for medicinal purposes then he/she will not be charged. 

penalties for possession of marijuana

Penalties for possession of marijuana vary depending on the criminal record of the accused. But also depending of the amount of drugs and the location at the time of the arrest. Let’s see:

1. Possession of less than 28.5 oz. of marijuana. It is considered an infraction, according to HS 11357 (b) if you do not have a criminal record.

  • Fine of up to $ 100.
  • Court-ordered drug education program.

2. Possession of more than 28.5 oz. of marijuana. It is considered a misdemeanor, according to HS 11357 (c).

  • Fine of up to $ 500.
  • Prison for up to 6 months in a county jail.
  • Community service – work.
  • Summary test.
  • Court-ordered drug education program.
  • Criminal record register.

3. Possession of concentrated marijuana – HS 11357 (a). Up to 1 year in prison in a county jail if it qualified as a misdemeanor. Up to 3 years in a state prison if it is a serious crime.

  • Fine of up to $ 500.
  • Formal probation or summary.
  • Community service or work.
  • Court-ordered drug education program.
  • Criminal record register.

If you want to learn more about Marijuana laws in California, check out our web section.

Cocaine possession – HS 11350

Possession of a small portion of cocaine for personal use is currently considered a misdemeanor drug offense. Although it could be serious if there are aggravating elements during the arrest. 

For example, convictions for sexual offenses, a history of previous serious crimes, or you were registered as a sex offender.

Since it is a highly addictive drug, its possession has special treatment. The punishment can increase if it is associated with a loaded firearm. Although possession of cocaine is also subject to the drug diversion program when the defendant pleads guilty.

The sanctions can be:

  • Up to 1 year in prison in a county jail as a misdemeanor. If the crime is serious, up to 3 years in a state prison.
  • Formal probation or summary.
  • Fine of up to $ 1,000 for first offense or $ 2,000 for second offense.
  • Community service or work.
  • Court-ordered drug education program.
  • Criminal record register.
cocaine with a firearm

Possession of cocaine while armed (serious crime) – HS 11370.1

  • Up to 4 years in a state prison.
  • Formal probation.
  • Community service or work.
  • Court-ordered drug education program.
  • Loss of property rights over seized firearms.
  • Criminal record register.

Heroin possession – HS 11350

Heroin is classified on list 1 of the California Uniform Controlled Substances Act . Due to its dangerousness due to the high potential for consumption and physical and psychological dependence it generates.

Consequently, the charges for possession of heroin for drug sales (HS 11351), are severely punished. Simple heroin possession went from a felony to a misdemeanor drug crime in almost all cases. His decriminalization was included in Proposition 47 .

Although if the defendant has a felony criminal record, possession can be presented as a felony as well. The crime of heroin possession often includes a lesser charge for possession of drug paraphernalia (HS 11364 a).

heroin possession

Hypodermic needles and other devices are generally confiscated along with the drug. Simple possession of heroin with intent to sell is punishable by:

  • Up to 1 year in prison in a county jail if it is a misdemeanor. If the crime is classified as serious then up to 3 years in a state prison.
  • Fine of up to $ 1,000 fine for the first offense or $ 2,000 fine for a second offense.
  • Formal probation or summary.
  • Court-ordered drug education program.
  • Community service or work.
  • Criminal record register.

Possession of Methamphetamines – HS 11377

Methamphetamine is considered a very dangerous drug and is included in List 2 of the law. This drug also has a very high abuse potential since it generates a lot of physical and psychological dependence.

However, depending on the person’s circumstances and background, it may be classified as a misdemeanor. As set forth in Proposition 47. The penalties for a person facing charges of possession of Meth are:

  • Up to 1 year prison term in county jail (misdemeanor). If it is a serious crime then up to 3 years in jail in a state prison.
  •  Up to $ 1,000 fine.
  • Formal probation or summary.
  • Community service or work.
  • Court-ordered drug education program.
  • Criminal record register.

Possession of prescription drugs without a prescription 

Illegal possession of prescription drugs is also sanctioned in California. Having over-the-counter medications like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and other pain relievers of opiate origin carries some penalties. Like other drugs like Adderall and Xanax that are used to calm anxiety.

The Code California Business and Professions 4060, illegal possession of drugs considered without valid prescription. Medications must be legally prescribed by a doctor, nurse, dentist, or veterinarian.

People accused of violating the BP 4060 code face the following penalties:

  • Up to 1 year prison term in a county jail for a misdemeanor. If the crime is serious then up to 3 years in state prison.
  • Up to $ 1,000 fine.
  • Formal probation or summary.
  • Court-ordered drug education program. Community service or work.
  • Criminal record register.

You can read more about this topic in our “Los Angeles prescription drug fraud attorney” section.

Juvenile sanctions for possession of controlled substances

Cases of minors under the age of 18 who are found to have drug possession may receive other treatment. Such cases can be prosecuted through the California Juvenile Court. 

If your child was charged with possession of controlled substances in Los Angeles, we can help you resolve it. Talk to our Los Angeles drug crime lawyer today .  

A minor has the right to redeem himself and to get a second chance. Call now and request a professional, no obligation consultation.

Drug diversion program in California

First-time violation of simple possession cases may be eligible for this program. The drug diversion program under California Penal Code 1000 offers some procedural benefits. 

With an experienced and capable attorney, the person can have criminal charges against him or her dropped. In return, they must meet certain program requirements such as receiving medical treatment and drug education.

To be eligible it is required that the crime is not related to sexual or domestic violence and other aggravating factors. The duration of the drug program is generally 12 to 18 months. 

During that time the beneficiary must remain free of problems. So the court dismisses the charges and your criminal record is cleared. Otherwise you will need to clear the criminal record.

A drug possession conviction in Los Angeles or any city will forever stain your resume. Fortunately, there are ways to solve this problem that may affect your future.

If you have had the unfortunate experience of being arrested for a controlled substance crime, you need a good lawyer. The Los Angeles drug possession defense lawyers at Lluis Law have the experience and ability. We offer a professional and highly efficient representation.