Under HS 11350, no person is permitted to possess a controlled substance
without a valid prescription. A controlled substance is any drug, chemical,
or narcotic for which manufacturing, sale, possession, and use are regulated
by the government. In particular, the U.S. Controlled Substances Act (CSA)
outlines many of the drugs that are considered controlled substances.
The CSA is also used to outline the drug classifications in states throughout
the country. Controlled substances are placed into Schedules, which classifies
them according to their "potential for abuse," and which aid
federal, state, and local courts in determining criminal penalties for
various types of drugs. Although there are many different types of controlled
substances, the following outline of the Schedules and common drugs within
those Schedules can serve as an example:
Schedule I – Controlled substances with a high potential for abuse, no accepted medical
use, and lack of accepted safety for use. Common types of Schedule I drugs
include: Heroin, LSD and various hallucinogens, MDMA, and marijuana.
Schedule II – Controlled substances with a high potential for abuse and the potential
for severe psychological or physical dependence. Common drugs in this
Schedule include cocaine, opium, oxycodone, amphetamines, and codeine.
Schedule III – Controlled substances with less potential for abuse than Schedule I or
II drugs, a high potential for psychological abuse, and a moderate to
low potential for physical dependence. Examples of Schedule III drugs
are anabolic steroids, ketamine, hydrocodone / codeine when compounded
with anti-inflammatory drugs (Vicodin), and certain barbiturates.
Schedule IV – Controlled substances that have a lower potential for abuse and dependency
than those in previous Schedules. Long-acting barbiturates and benzodiazepines
such as Xanax, Klonopin, and Valium are the most common examples of Schedule IV drugs.
Schedule V – Controlled substances with low potential for abuse and limited potential
for dependency. Schedule V drugs, including cough suppressants containing
codeine, must still be regulated and dispensed with a prescription.
Legal Elements, Defense & Penalties
Prosecutors have the burden of proving that an individual knowingly possessed
a controlled substance. While this legal element may seem straightforward,
there are many circumstances that can result in potential defense strategies.
In some cases, for example, drugs may not be physically present on a person,
may be found on property that belongs to a person, or may be found in
a location where two or more people may have immediate access to the drugs.
Prosecutors will also focus on proving that an individual knew that they
had a controlled substance in their possession and that they knew possession
of such a substance to be illegal. In some cases, prosecutors may also
charge individuals with additional related offenses, including possession
of a controlled substance for sale, being under the influence of a controlled
substance, and others.
Depending on these and other facts, there may be differing defenses. People
with valid prescriptions and people who did not know that a controlled
substance was present on their property, for example, have a legitimate
defense. By focusing on all aspects of your arrest and charge, our legal
team can tailor defense plans specifically to the situation at hand. We
also conduct meticulous investigations to ensure that your rights were
not violated at any point before, during, or after your arrest and that
you were not the victim of an unlawful search and seizure.
As with many drug crime offenses, penalties can vary widely. Based on the
nature of the charge, controlled substance, prior criminal records, and
whether other crimes were committed, prosecutors will determine an appropriate
sentence. Typically, possession of a controlled substance is a
felony offense punishable by fines and up to one year of imprisonment. Penalties will
increase with multiple offenses. As California has begun to recognize
the need to rehabilitate drug offenders – rather than simply punish
them – court systems throughout the state are turning to alternative
sentencing options that will allow offenders to obtain the help they need
while preserving their record and freedom.
Personal Attention from a Proven Legal Team
Should you choose to bring your case to the attention of Lessem, Newstat
& Tooson, LLP, you can be confident knowing that our legal team works
each case on an individual basis. We view all aspects and elements of
your unique situation, take the time to listen to your story, and provide
you with personal attention throughout each stage of the court process.
Depending on the circumstances involved in your case, we can help you
understand your rights and your options, and will guide you toward the
most favorable resolution possible – whether it be diversionary
drug treatment programs, deferred judgment, or fighting on your behalf
during trial. Learn more about HS 11350 and how our firm can help.
Contact a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney from Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP.