Section 11350 of the California Penal Code of 2002 defines the crime of drug possession as an individual who possesses any controlled substance specified or considered as a narcotic drug.

A conviction for drug possession carries with it jail time and payment of fines, depending on the severity of the case. The accessory penalties to the crime include loss of driving privileges, forfeiture of proceeds of the crime, mandatory registration, drug rehabilitation and/or community service. Even if the drugs found in possession were only of a small quantity, the law imposes harsh penalties such as mandatory minimum sentences for each offense committed.

The severity of your drug possession case hinges on a number of factors, which include:

1. The type and quantity of drugs in possession;
2. The determination of intent, be it for personal use or for sale;
3. The existence of a prior criminal record, especially drug crime related cases.

If the crime charged is a second offense, then the imposable penalty is increased by adding three more years. On the other hand, those charged with drug possession for the first offense may choose between jail time or undergoing drug rehabilitation treatment. If the treatment is successful, then the drug possession charges would be dropped from the individual’s records.

There are defenses though for the crime of drug possession. The first step would be the determination of the legality of the search and seizure which yielded the drugs. Should it be found to be an illegal search, all the evidence obtained would be considered as illegal and thus the case would be dismissed.

Possession is not the end all and be all of this offense because arresting officers have the determination to divine intent from the physical possession of the drug. This is called possession with the intent for sale or distribution. This increases the severity of the offense and the following are the factors that affect the determination of increasing the offense from simple possession to possession with intent to sell or distribute:

1. The drugs found and seized amounts to more than just a couple of ounces. This means the more drugs found, the intention of personal use is vacated and is replaced with the intent to sell or distribute.
2. The drugs are packaged into smaller containers or bags. With the physical set up of the drugs found in your possession, having them segregated leads officers to the conclusion that the intent to distribute is present.
3. The suspect was arrested in a known drug dealing location. Thus, being arrested at specific location known as drug drop off points would form part of the presumption of intent to sell or distribute.
4. The drugs found had no paraphernalia for its use and the suspect is not high or under the influence of drugs. Having a lucid mind is essential to distribution not merely possession.
5. Along with the drugs were found cash in small denomination, leading the arresting officers to the conclusion that the drugs were for sale or distribution. Also finding a weapon would lead to this conclusion.

The commission of the crime of drug possession is a serious matter in California. Should you be or know anyone facing any of these charges, do reach out to the lawyers at the Law Offices of Ramiro J. Lluis for a free consultation today.