Los Angeles Drug Possession Attorney
Arrested for Drug Possession in Los Angeles, CA?
Arrested for drug possession? Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP can provide the tough defense it takes to get your charges reduced or dismissed entirely. Our attorneys have over 50 years of collective legal experience we can draw from to aid in your defense. We have handled over 200 jury trials and achieved hundreds of case dismissals. Needless to say, we have the experience you need if you're facing drug possession charges.
Whatever your situation might be, we encourage you to contact a Los Angeles drug possession lawyer at our firm as soon as possible so we can provide you with a free case evaluation.
Types of Drug Possession Charges
Under § 113550 of the California Health & Safety Code, there are three types of possession charges:
- Actual Possession – Usually, this means that the drug was found on your person
- Constructive Possession – This means the drug was found in an area in which you exercise control, such as your home or apartment.
- Joint Possession – Shared actual or constructive possession of a controlled substance.
§ 11350 is not the only drug possession statute in California's HS code. § 11351 is California's "possession for sale" statute and § 11377 criminalizes the unlawful possession of methamphetamine and some other controlled substances.
What is a Controlled Substance?
A controlled substance refers to drugs that have a negative effect on a person's health and welfare, as deemed and regulated by the state and federal government. Some of these drugs can be prescribed to the general public for medical purposes, but exceeding the legal limits or using it outside of its intended purpose can make it illegal.
Drugs and substances are organized into schedule categories depending on their accepted medical use, potential for abuse, and likeliness to cause dependency in users. A Schedule I drug is the most severe and has the high potential for abuse and dependency, while a Schedule V drug has the lowest abuse potential.
What Are the Elements of a Drug Possession Charge?
According to the California Health & Safety Code § 11350, possession charges have two major elements:
In order to be convicted under this statute, the prosecutor must effectively show that you knew about the substance and also knew that the substance was a controlled substance/illegal narcotic.
Drug possession charges are also based on quantity. In order for a judge to convict you of a possession offense, the prosecutor must show that you possessed enough of the drug to use it as a controlled substance.
Arrested for Possession with Intent to Sell (§11351)?
Possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell is more severe than simple possession. Simple possession is usually charged as a felony, but intent to sell is a felony charge punishable by probation/up to a year in jail or 2-4 years in state prison in addition to a maximum fine of $20,000. Possession with intent to sell is taken seriously in California and will need a powerful and experienced attorney to fight your case.
Arrested for Possession of Methamphetamine (§11377)?
In addition to California's drug possession statute is a statute that specifically criminalizes the possession of methamphetamines. Whether this is charged as a misdemeanor or felony largely rests on the facts of your case as well as your criminal history (ex: any prior drug offenses).
If you already have one or multiple prior drug offenses on your record, you may need to avoid a conviction to stave off the enhanced penalties that befall repeat offenders.
Do I Qualify for Drug Diversion / Sentencing Alternatives?
In California, certain low-level drug offenses may qualify for drug diversion programs as an alternative to incarceration. Examples of low-level offenders are those charged with non-violent, simple drug possession of drugs in small quantities. Under the Deferred Entry Judgment (DEJ) process, you will plead guilty but avoid a conviction if you successfully complete the drug diversion program, which includes drug education courses.
Our team pushes aggressively to help keep you out of jail when possible so that your future is not negatively impacted by your charges.
Start Your Defense Today! Call Us at (800) 462-7160
Because a drug possession conviction requires proof that you knew about the drug and possessed a certain quantity of the drug, two major legal defenses we may be able to use in your case include: A) arguing that you did not know the drug was present/did not know the substance was a controlled substance, and B) arguing that you did not possess a large enough quantity of the drug to warrant a possession conviction. Some other defenses we can use include:
- You possessed a valid prescription
- Police didn't have a valid warrant to search
- You didn't actually possess the substance
- No intent to sell (for § 11351 charges)
By contacting us today, one of our skilled attorneys can evaluate your case and inform you of your legal rights and options. It also allows us to become acquainted with your unique needs. For example, if this is your first encounter with the criminal justice system, your legal need would be to keep a clean criminal record.
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