In most instances prior to November 5, 2014, drug possession was a felony, punishable by a sentence of up to three years. However, on November 4, 2014, California voters enacted laws pursuant to Proposition 47 that now make most drug possession for personal use misdemeanors, punishable by a sentence of up to a year in county jail.
Drug possession is still a serious charge. Drug possession with intent to distribute or sell is a more serious crime and remains a felony offense, with a potential sentence for most controlled substances of four or more years.
If you have a conviction for a felony drug possession offense that you would like to be reduced to a misdemeanor, regardless of whether you are still on probation, mandatory supervision, PCS or parole, or your case is entirely closed, click here.
Drug possession laws apply to the possession of any controlled substance. Controlled substances are classified by federal law. These include not only familiar street drugs but prescription pharmaceutical drugs possessed without a valid prescription.
Possession can consist of actual possession, joint possession, or constructive possession. Constructive possession means that you did not have the drug in your immediate control but effectively had control over it, such as having it in your house.
To convict an individual of drug possession, the prosecution must show that you knowingly possessed a controlled substance, knew that it was a controlled substance, and that there was enough of the drug present to be used as a controlled substance. If an individual does not know that he or she possesses the drug, such as where another person leaves it in the individual's car, there can be no conviction for drug possession. If only trace amounts of a controlled substance are present (i.e. there is not a usable quantity), there likewise can be no conviction for drug possession.
In many instances, a first conviction for non-violent drug possession will not result in any custody time. Rather, the defendant will be sentenced to a drug diversion program. In some cases completion of the drug diversion program will eliminate the crime from the defendant's record.
If you have been arrested for possession of a controlled substance, you should seek out the services of an experienced Orange County drug possession defense attorney. At the Law Offices of Vincent J. LaBarbera, we have over 33 years of experience representing individuals charged with possession of controlled substances. Call our office today at (949) 863-1663 for a confidential consultation.