The Impact Of Drug Charges In California
In this article, you will discover:
- How drug charges are classified;
- What impacts the severity of a drug-related charge;
- The penalties for various drug charges;
- and more…
What Is A Controlled Substance?
Controlled substances include any regulated drug placed on a schedule by the state found in the Health and Safety Code. Specific controlled substances are always illegal, including cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines. It is illegal to possess various prescription drugs like morphine and oxycodone without a prescription.
Is Drug Distribution Or Sale Of Drugs In California Charged As A Misdemeanor Or A Felony?
In California, drug charges include simple possession and drug distribution or possession for sale. In most circumstances, simple possession is charged as a misdemeanor. However, the distribution or sale of these controlled substances is a felony in all circumstances.
More specifically, California Health and Safety Code Section 11352 prohibits transportation or importation within the state and the selling, furnishing, administering, giving away, offering, transporting, importing, furnishing, distributing, or attempting to import or transport any controlled substance.
How Does The Amount And Type Of Drug Impact The Charge?
The amount of controlled substance does not necessarily impact whether a drug distribution case is charged as a felony or misdemeanor, as distribution is always charged as a felony.
Distribution charges will never be charged as a misdemeanor but only as a felony; however, the number or quantity of drugs can elevate the charge of simple possession of a controlled substance from a misdemeanor to a felony. When the amount of drugs possessed is too large for personal use, the offense will be charged as a felony.
Other factors which might tend to demonstrate an intent to distribute include:
- Excessive amounts of cash
- Packaging materials
- Pay-n-Owe sheets or customer lists
- And more…
These can be used to indicate that the drugs were being used for more than personal use, which will then impact the charge leading to a felony distribution charge.
What Are The Penalties For Drug Distribution Conviction In California?
The California Health and Safety Code section 11352 sets a penalty for the sale or transportation of controlled substances within California.
The charge of sales and transportation of a controlled substance is a felony and with potential prison sentence of three to nine years and with fines of up to $20,000.
Certain aggravating factors include excessive quantities, which can enhance the sentence by more than ten years.
Can A First Offense Drug Distribution Charge Lead To Jail Or Prison?
On a first offense, with some mitigating circumstances, it’s possible to receive probation with a county jail sentence rather than a state prison sentence.
Based on probation, first-time offenders could serve up to one year in the county jail. Other options can apply even if they are not placed on probation under Penal Code Section 1170. Even if probation is not granted, the sentence can be served partially in and partially out of jail on a work release.
First-time drug offenders will not necessarily be sentenced to jail or prison. It could most likely be a jail sentence if placed on probation, but in more extreme circumstances, a prison sentence is possible where the controlled substances was possessed for the purpose of selling or distributing.
Can Drug Distribution Charges Lead To Drug Court In California?
California drug courts allow drug offenders to resolve their cases without being subjected to the criminal justice system. However, drug courts are limited to those accused of simple possession or personal use of controlled substances and those who may benefit from drug rehabilitation.
Upon successful completion of drug court, a dismissal of all criminal charges is typical though sale, transportation, and distribution charges render a person ineligible for drug court. A person initially charged with drug distribution may be eligible for drug court only if a qualified attorney can persuade the prosecution to reduce the charges to simple possession.
Is There A Way To Have A Record Cleared After A Drug Conviction?
A person convicted of either Health and Safety Code Sections 11352 A or B may be able to have their charge expunged. However, it cannot be expunged or cleared if they served a state prison sentence or violated the terms of their probation.
Suppose the case is overturned on appeal or for any other reason. In that case, the person may be able to petition the court for either a finding of factual innocence or to seal the record of arrest, which would limit the ability of others to see the arrest on a criminal record.
For more information on Drug Distribution Or Sale of Drugs In CA, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (415) 728-9982 today.