DRUGS

California drug crimes are prosecuted aggressively by the District Attorney (DA). That is why you need the best representation.

Drug laws (federal and state) are complex. This is an overview of some common California drug crimes prosecuted in California state courts.

Marijuana

Marijuana (Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, Cannabis ruderalis) is so common in California it is a wonder that it is illegal at all.

Possession of 28.5 grams (approximately one ounce) or less by persons 21 years of age or older is usually lawful.

It is also not a violation of California law for persons 21 years of age or older to possess, plant, cultivate, harvest, dry or process not more than six living marijuana plants and possess the marijuana produced by the plants.

With the passage of the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act (aka Prop 64) in 2016 in California, things can get a bit complicated and evaluation of specific facts in each case is necessary.

The Compassionate Use Act of 1996 (aka Prop 215) provides a legal defense for possession or cultivation of marijuana for medicinal purposes (aka Medical Marijuana).

Cocaine, Heroin, Controlled Substances

Possession is generally a felony punishable by up to 3 years in jail.

Possession for Sale is generally a felony punishable by up to 4 years in jail, or 5 years in jail if cocaine base (i.e., crack cocaine).

Transporting or Selling is generally a felony punishable by up to 5 years in jail, or up to 9 years in jail if transporting for sale within California from one county to another noncontiguous county.

Also, fines can be substantial, including up to $50,000, depending on the specific facts, controlled substance involved, and prior convictions.

Finally, depending on the circumstances, the DA may allege enhancements that substantially increase penalties (including additional years, additional fines, and state prison).

Methamphetamine

Possession of Methamphetamine is known as a wobbler (meaning the DA can file the case as a misdemeanor with up to one year in jail or as a felony with up to three years in jail).

Possession of Methamphetamine for Sale is generally a felony punishable by up to 3 years in jail.

Transporting or Selling Methamphetamine is generally a felony punishable by up to 4 years in jail, or up to 9 years in jail if transporting for sale within California from one county to another noncontiguous county.

Manufacturing Methamphetamine is generally a felony punishable by up to 7 years in jail and fines of up to $50,000.

Finally, depending on the circumstances, the DA may allege enhancements that substantially increase penalties (including additional years, additional fines, and state prison).

Prescription Medication

Because there are so many prescription drugs and so many factual circumstances involving prescription drugs, California crimes related to prescription drugs are complicated. Penalties for unlawfully dispensing, possessing without a valid prescription, possessing for sale, or transporting or selling prescription drugs generally range from misdemeanors (up to 1 year in jail and up to $10,000 fines) to felonies (up to 9 years in jail and up to $50,000 in fines).

Depending on the circumstances, the DA may allege enhancements that substantially increase penalties (including additional years, additional fines, and state prison).

Paraphernalia

Simple possession of devices (pipes, bongs, etc.) for smoking Marijuana is generally legal under California law.

Simple possession of an opium pipe or any device used for unlawfully smoking or injecting certain controlled substances (e.g., methamphetamine, crank, crack, heroin, etc.), is typically a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail and fines of $1,000.

Possession solely for personal use of 30 or fewer hypodermic needles or syringes, if acquired from a physician, pharmacist, hypodermic needle and syringe exchange program, or any other source that is authorized by law to provide sterile syringes or hypodermic needles without a
prescription, is generally legal.

Diversion (PC 1000 & Prop 36)

PC 1000 (Deferred Entry of Judgment) is basically a get-out-of-jail-free card (well, not so free when you include the price of the drug program, fines and legal fees) typically reserved for first-time, possession for personal use, drug offenders in California. Qualifying for PC 1000 generally requires a guilty plea. Thereafter, the offender is required to complete a deferred entry of judgment program along with, typically, an appearance in court 18 months later to provide proof of completion of the program. Upon completion of the deferred entry of judgment program and payment of all fines and fees, and, assuming the PC 1000 participant has, sometimes both literally and figuratively, kept his or her nose clean during the deferred entry of judgment period, the PC 1000 participant is allowed to withdraw his or her guilty plea and the court will dismiss the case as if the PC 1000 participant was never arrested and convicted.

Prop 36 (Post-Conviction Formal Drug Diversion) generally mandates treatment and probation instead of incarceration for qualified, non-violent, first and second time drug possession offenders and those convicted of being under the influence of certain substances. Drug testing is typically a component of Prop 36 probation. Upon successful completion of the drug treatment program and probation, the charges get dismissed but the arrest and conviction generally remain reportable.

Daniel Ledford Can Help


Daniel Ledford, Criminal Defense Lawyer and former Butte County Deputy District Attorney, uses his vast experience to get clients the best possible results.

Daniel Ledford is ready to take your case to trial and force the DA to prove the charges to twelve impartial jurors.

If the charges you face are partially valid, Daniel Ledford is prepared to negotiate a fair resolution of your criminal case (such as reduction of charges or dismissal).

Please call for additional information and appointment.

(530) 354-4066 CHICO, CA | (530) 534-6100 OROVILLE, CA