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If you are facing this charge, the Los Angeles drug possession defense lawyers at Lluis Law can help and represent you in court. 


Being arrested and convicted of a drug crime carries serious consequences for a person. Possession of prohibited substances is punishable by severe penalties depending on the amount and type of substance. Call now and book a consultation.

Drug Possession Defense With The Best Lawyers In Los Angeles, California

Our Los Angeles criminal lawyers have over 50 years of combined experience in criminal defense matters. We have successfully solved hundreds of cases related to the possession, use and sale of drugs in Los Angeles and other cities. 

Being arrested on drug possession charges for the first time can be devastating to a person. Don’t forget that possession of drugs and other controlled substances is punishable in California. 

  • California Health and Safety Code 11350 expressly prohibits a person from possessing prohibited substances.
  • Its possession is also regulated by the federal Controlled Substances Act. 
cocaine with a firearm

Substances Controlled and/or Prohibited by Law in California

With the exception of individuals who have a valid medical prescription for their possession, these are some of the drugs and other controlled substances in the United States:

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

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

Possible Defenses To Drug Possession Charges

Some of the legal arguments that we, at Lluis Law, employ for the defense in a drug possession charge in Los Angeles 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 actual or constructive possession of the drug. 
  • Temporary possession of the prohibited substance. For example, the father who takes them away 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 individual must have a clean criminal record in drug matters.  
  • The drug was found through an illegal procedure. The search and seizure was carried out irregularly 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 drug possession lawyers in Los Angeles could file a request for the judge to suppress the evidence based on the illegality encountered. 
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How Is The Crime Of Drug Possession Proven?

To prosecute and convict a person for this crime, several elements must be verified.

1. Control over the drug seized. 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 a 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 they exercise control.
  • Actual or personal possession. The drug or controlled substance was found on the person’s clothing, purse, or body prior to arrest.

However, having access to the drug or being near the place where it was found is not sufficient proof. Not even being with a person who had the controlled substance in their possession. The prosecutor must prove that the defendant 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 had knowledge of the presence of the drug if you are not to 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 residues of drugs since they would not produce narcotic effects.

Benefits Of Hiring Drug Possession Defense Lawyers in Los Angeles

The benefits of hiring an experienced and capable lawyer in these cases are multiple. Among other things, because they have a profound knowledge of the law and how the California judicial system operates. 

  • Knowing how to use every legal resource available to the client’s benefit is crucial to a successful defense strategy.
  • Our drug possession defense attorneys will seek to have the charges against you dismissed.
  • If this is not possible then we will try to negotiate a reduction in the charges or sentence with the prosecution.
  • We fight alongside the client to safeguard their constitutional rights and prevent them from going to prison. 

This requires aggressive and competent Los Angeles drug possession 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 them for this crime. During a trial, the Prosecutor’s Office must prove possession and ownership of the drug found.

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Penalties For Possession Of Controlled Substances

Controlled substance law generally considers drug possession to be a misdemeanor. HS Code 11350 establishes the following general penalties for this type of offense if:

  1. The defendant pleads guilty. It is punishable as a misdemeanor and the person is sentenced to one year in prison in a county jail. They could also be fined up to $1,000.
  2. They have prior felony convictions. If the person has a conviction for any of the following felony crimes: 
    1. Homicide.
    2. Violent sexual crimes.
    3. Hit-and-run under the influence of DUI.
    4. Sex crimes against minors.

You may be interested in reviewing our blogs on Los Angeles hit and run attorney and DUI lawyers in Los Angeles and learn more about the crime of lewd acts with minors.

When Does The Penalty For This Crime Increase?

There are circumstances in which the accused receives a more severe sanction. For example, prison terms of between 16 months to 3 years in prison. 

Such sanctions imposed by the judge depend on the:

  • Type and quantity of drugs found. 
  • Criminal history of the defendant.
  • Intent to sell or distribute the drugs found.
  • Circumstances surrounding the event.

A large quantity of drugs in the defendant’s possession could hardly be considered by the prosecution to be for personal use. Rather, it could be presumed that the possession of the controlled substance is for the purpose of sale.

If the court finds possession for sale of a controlled substance in Los Angeles, the penalty is greatly increased. California criminal law considers the possession and sale of drugs to be a felony. 

Sanctions According To The Type And Amount Of Drug

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

heroin possession

Possession Of Marijuana – HS 11357

Possession of marijuana in California is classified as a “wobbler ,” meaning a misdemeanor or infraction. If the person has a prescription or authorization for its use for medicinal purposes then they will not be charged. 

Penalties for possession of marijuana vary depending on the defendant’s criminal history. But also due to the amount of drugs and the place where they were at the time of his arrest. Let’s see:

1. Possession of less than 28.5 oz of marijuana. It is considered a violation, per 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.
  • Imprisonment for up to 6 months in a county jail.
  • Community service – work.
  • Summary test.
  • Court ordered drug education program.
  • Criminal record.

3. Possession of concentrated marijuana – HS 11357 (a). Up to 1 year in prison in a county jail if the charge is classified as a misdemeanor. If it is a felony, the penalty would be up to 3 years in state jail.

  • Fine of up to $500.
  • Formal parole or summary.
  • Community service or job.
  • Court ordered drug education program.
  • Criminal record.

4. Possession of Marijuana Paraphernalia- HS 11364. Punishable as a misdemeanor, even if no drug is found within the paraphernalia. That is, rolling paper, pipe, planting kits, scales, gins and separation screens). 

Marijuana laws in California

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

Possession Of Cocaine – HS 11350

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

For example, sex crime convictions, prior felony record (CA three strikes law), or were registered as a sex offender. Being considered a highly addictive drug, its possession has a special treatment. 

Penalties For Possession Of Cocaine

Although the possession of cocaine is also subject to the drug diversion program when the defendant pleads guilty. The penalties for possession of this drug can be:

  • Up to 1 year in prison in a county jail as a misdemeanor. If the crime is a felony, up to 3 years in prison in a state jail.
  • Formal parole or summary.
  • Fine of up to $1,000 for a first offense or $2,000 for a second offense.
  • Community service or duties.
  • Court ordered drug education program.
  • Criminal record.

Possession of Cocaine with a Loaded Firearm (Felony) – HS 11370.1

The punishment may increase if associated with a loaded firearm: 

  • Up to 4 years in state prison.
  • Formal probation.
  • Community service or duties.
  • Court ordered drug education program.
  • Loss of ownership rights over seized firearms.
  • Criminal record.

Heroin Possession – HS 11350

Heroin is classified under Schedule 1 of the California Uniform Controlled Substances Act. Due to its danger due to the high potential for consumption and physical and psychological dependence that it generates.

Consequently, charges for possession of heroin for sale (HS 11351) are severely punished. Simple heroin possession went from being a felony to a misdemeanor drug offense in almost all cases. 

Its decriminalization was included in Proposition 47 . Although if the defendant has a criminal record for a felony, possession can be presented as a felony as well.  

Penalties For Possession Of Heroin

The crime of possession of heroin often includes a misdemeanor charge of possession of drug paraphernalia (HS 11364 a).

Hypodermic needles and other devices used to consume the drug are usually 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 a felony then up to 3 years in a state jail.
  • Fine of up to $1,000 fine for the first offense or $2,000 fine for a second offense.
  • Formal parole or summary.
  • Court ordered drug education program.
  • Community service or job.
  • Criminal record.
penalties for possession of marijuana

Possession Of Methamphetamine – HS 11377

Methamphetamine is considered a very dangerous drug and is included in Schedule 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 individual’s circumstances and background, it may be classified as a misdemeanor. As established by Proposition 47. 

Penalties For Possession Of Methamphetamine

The sanctions to which a person facing charges for possession of Meth is exposed are:

  • Imprisonment of up to 1 year in the county jail (misdemeanor). If it is a felony then up to 3 years in state prison.
  • Up to $1,000 fine.
  • Formal parole or summary.
  • Community service or job.
  • Court ordered drug education program.
  • Criminal record.

Possession Of Prescription Drugs Without A Prescription 

Illegal possession of prescription drugs is also punishable in California. Possessing over-the-counter medications such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and other opiate-based pain relievers carries some penalties. 

Like other drugs like Adderall and Xanax that are used to calm anxiety. California Business and Professions Code 4060 makes it illegal to possess medicine without a valid prescription. 

Medicines must be legally prescribed by a doctor, nurse, dentist or veterinarian. 

Penalties For Illegal Possession Of Medicines 

Individuals charged with violating BP 4060 face the following penalties:

  • Imprisonment of up to 1 year 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 parole or summary.
  • Court ordered drug education program. Community service or job.
  • Criminal record.

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

Differences Between Drug Possession And Trafficking

If you are charged with possession of any of the drugs or prescription medications listed above, you need an attorney. It is important to know how to distinguish between the charge of possession of drugs and that of drug trafficking, which is different.

The latter is established according to the type of possession that the prosecution imputes. The different types of drug possession: actual, constructive, and conjoint, should not be confused with regular possession and drug dealing. 

Such offenses are also punishable by possession of drugs. However, they are differentiated by the amount of drug seized and not by the type of possession.

In the same way, possession of drugs with intent to sell is another crime. It is listed in California Health and Safety Code 11351. 

Juvenile Penalties For Possession Of Controlled Substances

Cases of minors under the age of 18 who are found with drugs in their possession may receive other treatment. Such cases may be prosecuted through the California Juvenile Court. 

Los Angeles drug crimes lawyer

If a child of yours was charged with possession of a controlled substance in Los Angeles, we can help you figure it out. Speak to one of our Los Angeles drug crime lawyers who are experts in juvenile justice nowadays.

A minor has the right to redeem himself and get a second chance. Call right now and request a professional consultation.

California Drug Diversion Program

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

  • With the help of a knowledgeable and capable attorney, it is possible to have criminal charges dropped. 
  • In exchange, they must comply with various program requirements such as receiving medical treatment and drug education.
  • To be eligible, it is required that the crime is not related to domestic violencesexual assault and other aggravating factors. 
  • The duration of the drug program is usually 12 to 18 months. 
  • During that time the beneficiary must remain free of crimes. So the court dismisses the charges and their criminal record is cleared. 

If not, you will need to clear your criminal record. A drug possession conviction in Los Angeles or any other city will mark your resume forever. Fortunately, there are ways to solve this problem that can affect your future.

Related Crimes

Drug Possession with Intent to Sell California – 11351 HSC is one of these crimes. There are others that frequently appear related to the drug possession charge, without meaning that they are derived crimes.

  • Sale, transportation, or administration of a controlled substance (HSC §11352(a)).
  • Simple possession of a controlled substance (HSC §11377(a)).
  • Sale or transportation for sale of controlled substances (HSC §11379(a)).
  • Manufacture or possession of imitation controlled substance with intent to distribute (HSC §109575).
  • Offer to sell, transport or administer a controlled substance (HSC §11355),
  • Possession or use of synthetic cannabinoids or cannabinoid derivatives (HSC §11357.5(b)).
  • Possession for distribution or sale of synthetic stimulant compounds (HSC §11375.5(a))
  • Peyote cultivation or processing (HSC §11363).     

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