Drug Offenses in California

Some of the strictest drug laws in the nation are in the state of California. The sentences given for a guilty finding depend greatly on the circumstances and the charge. For drug charges in the state of California, there is also the option for alternative sentencing.

Charges for Drug Offenses in California

  • Drug Possession – Misdemeanor
    According to California laws, possession of Marijuana or drug related items and being under the influence of drugs are Drug Possession – Misdemeanor charges. To be found guilty, prosecutors in the case must prove an individual was in control of the drug at the time of the arrest.
  • Drug Possession – Felony
    Possession of any drugs outside of Marijuana will often result in a Felony charge in California. Drug related items, regardless of the nature of them, are generally charged as misdemeanor offenses.. As with Drug Possession – Misdemeanor charges, the prosecutors in the case need to prove an individual was in control of the drug cited for at the time of the arrest.
  • Drug Possession with the Intention to Sell
    Charges for drug possession with the intention to sell can be made for all drugs, including Marijuana, and is a felony charge. In a charge of this nature, prosecutors can legally use wiretapped conversation, items that are typically affiliated with the drug sales process and testimony from witnesses who report suspicious and an abundance of activity occurring in your home.
  • Drug Trafficking
    An individual can be charged in the state of California with a drug trafficking charge even if he/she is not directly transporting the drugs. If an individual is helping with the sale of drugs or purchasing drugs, one can be charged with a felony charge of conspiracy or aiding and abetting.
  • Developing / Making Drugs
    An individual will receive a felony charge for the development of drugs in any way. Using a methamphetamine laboratory to develop drugs, and even growing marijuana, will often result in a felony charge.

Penalties for Drug Charges in California

Misdemeanor Charges
The maximum sentence an individual can receive for a misdemeanor drug possession charge in the state of California is one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Felony Charges
A felony charge is more serious and comes with stricter penalties with a guilty finding. In the majority of cases, the judge takes into consideration the following when setting the penalty for a guilty offense:

  • Base term, or range of sentencing in California for the offense;
  • The presence of extenuating circumstances surrounding the offense, including the involvement of children and if somebody physically suffered or died as a result of the charged individual’s actions; and
  • Prior criminal history of the defendant.

It is important to note that there is a “three strikes” law in the state of California. If a defendant has two convicted felonies and then is found guilty for a third charge, that individual could spend 25 years to life in prison.

Alternative Sentencing

For non-violent drug offenders, a treatment program is often recommended. This alternative sentencing gives an individual a penalty that does not appear as a felony on his/her record. Alternative sentencing options include:

  • Drug Court - A nationally recognized program that requires participants to undergo an intensive drug treatment program. Upon completion of the program, the case is dismissed.
  • Diversion - Also known as deferred entry of judgment, a defendant pleads guilty but agrees to participate in education classes. If completed successfully completed, the case is dismissed after 18 months.
  • Proposition 36 - In July 2000, California voters passed Proposition 36. This allows first and second time drug offenders to receive substance abuse treatment instead of jail time.

The Luftman, Heck and Associates Advantage

We at Luftman, Heck and Associates ensure that you will receive the fair trial that you deserve. We make certain that the entire process – from when charges are filed to how final outcomes are delivered – is done legally and adheres to your constitutional rights. All of our clients’ cases receive a thorough examination as to how the evidence was obtained, and from there continue to monitor the entire judicial process. There are many ways a case can be dismissed due to illegal steps made on the behalf of others, including:

  • Fourth Amendment violations;
  • Warrants issued without probable cause;
  • Wiretapping and other illegal surveillance;
  • Miranda Rights warnings omitted, abridged or defied by police and prosecutors;
  • Possession of “drug paraphernalia” as evidence of a crime;
  • Statements and evidence illegally obtained, or improperly allowed at trial; and
  • Findings delivered as a result of canine searches (drug-sniffing dogs).

Contact Us Today

If you or a loved one are in need of criminal defense representation and are interested in learning more about Luftman, Heck and Associates LLP, please fill out a contact form. A member of our San Diego law firm will contact you directly to discuss your case in more detail and provide additional information about our criminal defense services.