If you or a loved one are facing allegations of drug possession in Long Beach, CA, or surrounding areas, it is imperative that you waste no time in contacting a skilled defense attorney. An attorney who specializes in defending against drug possession and related charges will be your ideal options since they will have the deepest knowledge of the laws and court processes involved.
In California, possessing illicit drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, meth, or even legal drugs that were illegitimately acquired, is a very serious offense that carries severe penalties. In fact, in most cases, drug possession in California is filed as a felony, though possession of small amounts of marijuana and/or of drug paraphernalia, as well as imply being intoxicated with illegal drugs are generally misdemeanors.
Despite the seriousness of the charge, many Long Beach residents fail to obtain quality legal representation in drug possession cases. They are often simply unaware of their options and of the significant difference a specialized drug possession defense attorney can make in their case’s outcome. Better understanding the nature of the charges you face and getting a top lawyer on your side, however, could easily change both your case and your future.
The Legal Definition of Drug Possession
Drug possession is defined in the California Health and Safety Code Section 11350 as having any substance listed as controlled in your immediate possession or in storage and under your control. Possessing any controlled narcotic, unless it was prescribed to you by a state-licensed doctor, dentist, veterinarian, or other qualified medical professional, is a crime that is punishable by incarceration in a state prison.
With few exceptions, drug possession is a felony and results in all/some of the following consequences:
- The stigma of a felony conviction on your record, both before the law and in the community
- Loss of the right to vote or hold office
- Loss of the right to own/carry firearms
- Disqualification from jury duty
- The requirement to submit your DNA to police
- Various immigration consequences for non-citizens
What Must the Prosecutor Prove?
To establish beyond doubt that the accused is guilty of the crime of drug possession, all of the following elements must be proved:
- The defendant did, in fact, illegally possess a controlled substance.
- The defendant was aware of the presence of that substance.
- The defendant was aware of the nature/character of the substance as one that was legally controlled.
- The drug possessed is listed as a controlled substance in the California Penal Code.
- The drug was present in “usable amount.”
Possible Defense Strategies
Some of the most common defense strategies or arguments that a skilled drug possession defense attorney may use include:
1 The drug was legally prescribed: HSC 11350 makes it clear that a valid prescription is a solid defense against drug possession charges. If, for example, you possessed a “usable amount” of the drug codeine but your physician legally prescribed it to you, you cannot be held guilty. However, the prescription must have been written out specifically in your name and for your use. A skilled and diligent attorney may be able to, at least, raise some doubts as to whether you had a legal prescription for the controlled substance you possessed.
2 The controlled substance was never in your possession: To be guilty of “possessing” a controlled substance, it must have either been on your person or under your control at some point. This can include keeping it stored at a distant location. If, however, drugs simply happened to be lying on the ground near to you or were planted on your person or premises by another, you are not guilty of drug possession.
3 You were not aware of the presence of the illegal drug or of its identity as an illegal drug: The law requires that you were aware of two things before a drug possession violation can occur: that the substance in question was present at hand and that the substance was indeed illegal. Take, for example, the case of a person who unsuspectingly purchases cocaine, supposing it to be powdered milk. Such a person was not aware of what it really was that he was possessing, and thus, is not guilty of drug possession.
4 Police entrapped you into possessing the drug: “Police entrapment” occurs when law enforcement officers induce or encourage someone to violate the law against an initial refusal or reluctance of that person so to do. If the act “originated” with the police and was not immediately and cheerfully committed by the accused, a good attorney may well be able to argue an entrapment defense.
5 There is simply not enough evidence to convict: The standards of proof to obtain a conviction for drug possession under HSC 11350 are quite high, and it often happens that there is a lack of sufficient evidence. There may also be evidence that favors the defendant and seems to contradict the prosecutor’s evidence. To obtain a conviction, all elements of the crime must be proven beyond doubt.
The charge of drug possession is eligible both for a deferred entry of judgment and for a “diversion sentence” under Proposition-36. A conviction will require the convict register with the state as a drug offender, however, and the offense cannot be stricken from the record like some crimes can be.
California Proposition-36 allows that those convicted of non-violent drug possession offenses can have their sentences suspended by the court. Probation will then be offered to those who are willing to take part in drug treatment classes approved by the court.
Some of the most likely sentencing elements to be part of the punishment for a drug possession conviction include:
- A felony on your permanent criminal record
- Sixteen months to three years in state prison
- Three to five years of probation
- A fine of anywhere from $70 to $10,000
- Community service
Contact Us Today for Top-Tier Legal Representation
At the Law Offices of David Givot, we have a skilled team of drug possession defense attorneys who know how to navigate the legal system in order to maximize your odds of a favorable outcome. We often are able to resolve drug possession cases without any jail time being involved in the sentence. This is true both for misdemeanor and many felony violations. By keeping a conviction off of your record, you can prevent losing future employment, educational, and leasing opportunities.
We are familiar with the details of California drug law and the inner workings of the Long Beach criminal justice system. Our office closely follows all changes made to these laws, and therefore, our legal defense services are always fully “up to date.” Whether you are facing charges of possessing marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, or any other controlled substance, we at the Law Offices of David J. Givot know how to build you a solid defense. Contact us today at 888-293-0396 for a free legal consultation or for answers to your questions concerning drug possession cases in Long Beach, California.