What is the Drug Crimes Law in California?

Possession of drugs in California is illegal, and if arrested for the offense, you could face misdemeanor or felony charges. The charges depend on factors such as the type of drug involved and the crime’s circumstances. The consequences of being convicted of drug crimes are severe, and you risk jail time, especially for felony charges.

Don’t go to battle alone if you’re facing drug crime charges. Drug crime laws in Los Angeles are complex, and you need the help of a legal expert who understands the nuances. A skilled Los Angeles criminal defense attorney can evaluate your case and advise you of the risks involved. They can also help you create a solid defense strategy to protect your rights and future.

The Basics of Los Angeles Drug Crimes

Drug crimes are categorized into two broad classes: possession and intent to sell or distribute. When facing charges for drug possession, the burden of proof is much lower than intent to sell. For the first crime, all the prosecution must prove that you possessed the drugs, regardless of your intention.

In the second type of crime, the prosecuting attorney must present evidence that proves beyond reasonable doubt that you possessed the drugs and intended to distribute or sell them. However, if you have a valid prescription for a controlled substance, you may be able to avoid the harsh penalties altogether.

You risk hefty penalties for being in possession of a controlled substance, even if the amount is small. An aggressive Los Angeles drug crimes lawyer can help you fight the charges. The last thing you want is to be sent to jail, which would significantly affect your life. You also want to avoid hefty fines that may dent your finances.

What Factors Lead to Felony Drug Charges?

Under the Federal Controlled Substances Act, drugs are categorized by their recognized medical value against their potential for abuse and addiction. California has five drug schedules, with Schedule I comprising the most dangerous drugs, such as heroin.

Some factors that could result in a felony drug crime charge are:

Type and Amount of Drug

The penalties for charges involving drugs under Schedule I are harsher than those under Schedule V. The amount of drugs in your possession will also determine the penalties you face. If you’re caught with a small amount, you may only face misdemeanor charges, and felony charges for a large amount of the same drug.

Possession for Sale

Your intent for having drugs could primarily affect the outcome of your charges. Being in possession for personal use could lead to a misdemeanor, while you could be charged with a felony for possessing illegal drugs with intent to sell.

A person who possesses drugs for their personal use causes harm to themselves, but one who possesses them with the intent to sell harms many others. Depending on the circumstances, even possession of small amounts could lead to felony charges. You’ll likely be charged with trafficking charges if police find you possessing large quantities of drugs.

The offense could result in felony charges with severe penalties, including extended prison sentences. Let a drug crimes attorney in Los Angeles provide aggressive legal representation to help you defend yourself against the charges.

Aggravating Factors

In prosecuting your case, courts will also charge defendants with felonies if the violation involved one or more aggravating factors, which reflect the circumstances under which the crime happened. For example, you risk heftier penalties if the offense occurred within 1,000 feet of drug-free zones such as playgrounds, schools, swimming pools, arcades, or college youth centers.

Under federal law, drug crimes committed in such zones have stiffer penalties. You could be subjected to twice the maximum punishment allowable under the law. Other aggravating factors are the presence of a minor, gang-related activities, and firearm possession.

What Are the Possible Penalties for Drug Crimes in California?

Depending on the type of drug crime, drug type, amount you were caught with, and your past criminal record, you risk several penalties:

  • Court fines: Many defendants convicted of illegal drug possession pay fines ranging from $100 to $100,000 or more.
  • Jail time: You could serve considerable time in jail, ranging from a few days to several years, if convicted of drug crimes. The sentence depends on the crime and drugs involved.
  • Probation: In most cases, probation is imposed in addition to penalties like imprisonment and fines. You must regularly check with a probation officer and comply with specific conditions, such as not using drugs. Violation of the terms could lead to imprisonment.
  • Enrollment into drug rehabilitation programs: You could also be sentenced to drug treatment or rehabilitation programs instead of serving jail time. Rehabilitation can be one of the requirements of a probation sentence.

A Skilled Drug Crimes Lawyer Defending You Against Harsh Drug Crime Charges

Being charged with possession of illegal drugs can be nerve-wracking. You risk hefty fines and imprisonment if found guilty of the offense. A knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles can help you better defend yourself against the charges. The lawyer can fight to have the charges dropped or the penalties reduced.

The Miranda Rights Law Firm is a criminal defense law firm and has a skilled drug crimes lawyer who can help you beat your drug crime charges. We have walked the journey with thousands of clients charged with various drug and other crimes and can help you fight, too. Trust us to work hard to protect your rights and future. Call us at 213-293-1207 to schedule a FREE case assessment.