California Drug Possession Laws

california drug possession laws

It is set forth a crime to willfully possess some illegal controlled substances such as cocaine, LSD or heroin. The USA’s government “Controlled Substances Act” states the full list of controlled substances. The possession of “precursor” that can be used while cultivating and manufacturing drugs is criminalized as well. Concerning quantities of drugs, the possession can be simple or it can be in large amounts what allows to consider that the offender had the intent to distribute the drugs in the future. The term “possession” can be applicable to three legal situations. The “possession” can be “actual”, “joint” and “constructive”.

Actual possession means that the controlled substances are under direct and immediate control. In case of joint possession, the item is shared with another person. Meanwhile, during constructive possession the person executes control over a location where the controlled substances are placed (direct and indirect). Two or more people may possess something at the same time. Generally speaking, a person does not have to actually hold or touch something, to possess it. It is enough if the person has control over it, either personally or through another person. Agreeing to buy a controlled substance does not, by itself, mean that a person has control over that substance.

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the Prosecutor must prove that:
1. The defendant unlawfully possessed a controlled substance
2. The defendant knew of its presence
3. The defendant knew of the substance’s nature or character as a controlled substance
4. The controlled substance was previewed by The USA’s government “Controlled Substances Act”
5. The controlled substance was in a usable amount.

A usable amount is defined as a quantity that is enough to be used by someone as a controlled substance. Useless traces are not usable amounts.
The defendant is not guilty of possessing controlled substances, if he or she had a valid, written prescription for that substance from a physician, dentist, podiatrist, or veterinarian licensed to practice in California. The prosecutor has the burden of proving beyond any reasonable doubt that the defendant did not have a valid prescription.

Controlled substances offences are stated in the U.S. Code Section 1227 as deportable aliens. Thus, trafficking and distribution of controlled substances is a crime that could lead to deportation.

It has to be noted that the drug possession laws also include prohibition from possessing paraphernalia such as crack pipes or syringes. Laws also spread restriction on the possession of certain chemicals or materials commonly used in the cultivation or manufacturing of drugs, such as the laboratory equipment used to make methamphetamine.

The Margarian Law Firm aggressively protects the rights of criminal defendants in California. We are a client-centered professional law firm. If you face a drug possession case, DO NOT HESITATE TO CONTACT US! All information entrusted us will be confidential and private. You can always contact us in order to discuss your specific case and get your legal assistance.

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