Drug Possession

In the state of California, the law prohibits the possession and sale of certain types of narcotics. If you have drugs that you are not supposed to have, you can face criminal charges and penalties including jail time and fines. The penalties that you will face for drug possession vary depending upon the type and amount of drug in your possession.

If you are charged with possession of drugs, it is important that you contact a qualified Palm Desert, drug possession attorney. Michael B. Goldstein, a Professional Law Corporation, has over 40 years of California criminal law experience. Attorneys Michael and Shannon Goldstein can help you to understand all options in resolving a drug possession case, including a not guilty plea or entering into a diversion program to avoid a criminal conviction.

How Do California Drug Possession Laws Work?

In California, Health and Safety Code section 11350 establishes the rules for drug possession. According to this law, there are three different kinds of “possession” including:

  • Actual possession: The drug is on your person, such as in your pockets, in your hand or otherwise physically under your control.
  • Constructive possession: The drug was found in a location that you have control of, such as in your glove compartment or in your dresser drawer in your home. These types of charges can be more difficult for police to prove.
  • Joint possession: If you and at least one other person both are sharing control of the drug, then you can be charged with joint possession. For example, if you and your spouse have cocaine or marijuana in a home you share, you could be charged with joint possession.

Law enforcement has the obligation to prove one of these types of possession beyond a reasonable doubt in order for you to be convicted of drug possession. Before you can be convicted, it also must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that you had knowledge both that the drug was illegal and that it was in your possession. Finally, it must be demonstrated that you had a sufficient amount of the drug to be charged. For example, drug residue is not enough to be charged with possession.

Penalties for Drug Possession

Potential penalties that you may face for drug possession depend both on how much of the drug you have and on how the drug is classified. Drugs are classified into schedules, with Schedule I drugs the most dangerous and Schedule V drugs the least dangerous.

  • Schedule I drugs include drugs like LSD, heroin and mescaline.
  • Schedule II drugs include cocaine, methadone and opium.
  • Schedule III drugs include anabolic steroids and special K.
  • Schedule IV drugs include clonazepam, prescription sedatives or tranquilizers.
  • Schedule V drugs include medications like codeine Tylenol.

If you have large amounts of a drug, or if you have a drug classified as among the most dangerous, then you may be charged with a felony. However, if you have smaller amounts of drugs that are less dangerous, you likely will be facing a misdemeanor drug-possession charge. Repeat offenders also face larger fines and more serious penalties.

Palm Desert Drug Defense Attorney Can Help

There are a number of potential defenses you can raise when you are charged with drug possession. For example, you can allege that you weren’t actually in possession of the drug, or that your constitutional rights were violated.

You can also argue that there is not enough evidence to convict you of the crime. Remember, you don’t have the burden of proving your innocence; the prosecutor has the burden of proving your guilt.

Finally, if there are no defenses to raise, you can still avoid the more serious of the criminal penalties that you face by negotiating a plea bargain or entering into various diversion programs for drug offenders.

Deciding what defenses or alternatives to pursue requires an understanding of the law. Palm Desert criminal defense attorneys at Michael B. Goldstein, a Professional Law Corporation, can review your case and help you to determine how best to respond to your drug charges.

Give us a call today to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

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