Drug Crimes Defense


The severity of drug offense penalties vary depending on two factors, which are whether the intent to procure or actual possession of the substance was for personal use or for profit. While possession for personal use has been somewhat decriminalized depending on the substance in question, the majority of drug possession arrests result in felony charges.  Possession for personal use is viewed as less serious and are eligible for dismissal through drug diversion programs depending on one's prior criminal record. Alternatively, possession or transportation with intent to sell is prosecuted far more aggressively and is NOT eligible for drug diversion programs.

  • Marijuana Possession of marijuana for personal use is legal under California laws for medical purposes as long you have a valid physician's recommendation, however, possessing or transporting large quantities can result in a felony charges. Simple possession of marijuana is typically charged as a misdemeanor unless the substance is found in a concentrated form, such as a capsule or oil.  In either case, possession of marijuana or the more serious offense of possession of concentrated cannibus is considered an eligible offense for drug diversion as long as you meet the eligibility requirements. Furthermore, possessing under an ounce of marijuana could be reduced to an infraction, resulting in just a fine and no criminal record.
  • Cocaine — Possession of cocaine is a felony offense. Even in cases involving a very small quantity, arrests will be made at felony level accompanied by a felony filing. As long as it is not alleged that you possessed the substance with the intent to distribute, possession of cocaine is an eligible offiense for drug diversion.   
  • Heroin — Possession of Heroin is a felony offense.  In many cases involving possession of heroin, an additional misdemeanor charge is filed if a smoking device or syringe is seized along with the substance.  Heroin possession and possession of paraphernalia are both diversion eligible offenses.
  • Methamphetamines — Possession of methamphetamines is a "wobbler" offense meaning it can be prosecuted as a felony or misdemeanor, although the arrest is typically made at felony level.  As long as you qualify, Meth possession is diversion eligible, regardless of whether it is filed as a felony or misdemeanor.
  • Prescription pills — Abuse of prescription medications has risen substantially over the past two decades. As a result,  possessing prescription drugs such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and other opium-derived pain relievers and many anti-anxiety meds, such as Xanax and Aderrall can result in felony charge if you do not have your valid physician's prescription at the time of the police contact. In cases where you in fact were illegally in possession of prescription meds without a valid physician's prescription, the case could be dismissed if you were deemed eligible for a drug diversion program. 

Topics:  Drug Possession, Illegal Drugs

Published In: Criminal Law Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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