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Were You Charged with California Crime Possession of Controlled Substances Under Health and Safety Code 11350?

Possession of controlled substances for personal use is also known as “simple” possession.  However, do not let this term deceive you: a “simple” possession conviction can lead to consequences that are anything but simple.  You can be heavily fined, incarcerated, and placed on probation.  You will also receive a criminal record, which can interfere with your professional aspirations.
If you, your son or daughter, or one of your family members was arrested for drug possession in Ventura or Santa Barbara, aggressive legal representation is essential.  Drug-related convictions can have serious legal and financial repercussions, and it is not in your best interests to represent yourself.  Representation by a skilled and experienced California drug crime attorney gives you a better chance of being acquitted, having your case dismissed, or being accepted into a diversion program.  Call The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC at (805) 585-5056 as soon as possible for a free and confidential legal consultation.

California Drug Possession Penalties: Fines, Jail, and Diversion Programs

A “controlled substance” is any substance that is regulated by the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), a federal law that deals with the possession of various narcotics.  However, there are several exceptions under the California law which defines drug possession offenses, Cal. Health and Safety Code (HSC) § 11350.

For example, marijuana possession is not prosecuted under this statute, because marijuana is dealt with by a separate statute, Cal. HSC § 11357.  Methamphetamines, PCP (phencyclidine), and various other stimulants are also handled by a separate statute, Cal. HSC § 11377.  Cal. HSC § 11350 deals with drug possession offenses involving narcotics and prescription drugs including:

  • Cocaine – Schedule II
  • Codeine – Schedule III (less than 90 milligrams per dosage unit), Schedule V (less than 200 milligrams per 100 milliliters)
  • Heroin – Schedule I
  • LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide) – Schedule I
  • OxyContin (Oxycodone) – Schedule II
  • Vicodin (Hydrocodone) – Schedule II (formerly Schedule III)

Whether drug possession is charged as a felony or a misdemeanor depends on factors like the type and quantity of the substance(s), as well as the defendant’s prior record.  If convicted of a drug-related misdemeanor, the defendant may be fined up to $1,000, and/or be sentenced to up to one year in jail.  However, if it is the defendant’s first offense, the defendant may be placed in a diversion program, such as California Drug Court, which can lead to your charges being dismissed if you are able to finish the program.

If a drug offense is charged as a felony, the penalties can be much greater.  For instance, the sentence for a felony conviction may be 16 months, two years, or three years: up to three times the length of the maximum sentence for a misdemeanor charge.

Legal Defenses to Controlled Substance Charges in Santa Barbara

Many defense strategies can be raised in criminal cases involving possession of controlled substances for personal use.  For example:

  • You possessed a valid medical prescription for the substance.  However, it is illegal to use another person’s prescription, or to forge a prescription.
  • The police uncovered the drugs by performing an illegal search.  Our defense lawyers will scrutinize every procedure the police followed when planning and conducting their search in order to determine if this defense is applicable.
  • You do not necessarily need to have drugs on your person in order to be charged with possession.  That scenario is called “actual” possession, but a person can also be charged with “constructive” possession, if controlled substances were discovered in a location over which they were capable of exercising control.  Therefore, in order to prove you guilty of constructive possession, the prosecutor must prove that you had the ability to exert control over the drugs.  It may be a defense, for instance, that you were a passenger in a vehicle in which the driver was storing drugs without your knowledge.  Lack of knowledge is generally a defense to drug possession charges in Ventura County or Santa Barbara County.

Contact Our Ventura Drug Crime Lawyers if You Were Arrested for Narcotics

Skilled legal counsel is imperative if you or one of your loved ones has been charged with possession of heroin, LSD, or cocaine, or with the unlawful possession of prescription drugs, such as OxyContin obtained with a fraudulent prescription.  With more than 22 years of experience handling misdemeanor and felony drug charges in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, rely on the defense attorneys of Bamieh & De Smeth to protect your rights, provide legal guidance, and fight for a favorable resolution to your case.

Do not wait to seek legal assistance.  Call our law offices immediately at (805) 585-5056 to arrange a free and completely confidential legal consultation.  We handle criminal cases arising in Oxnard, Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks, Goleta, Orcutt, Lompoc, Santa Maria, Moorpark, Isla Vista, Camarillo, Oak Park, and beyond.

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