The California Health and Safety Code, which is what contains most drug offense statutes has undergone some significant changes over the last few years.
For example, prior to 2016, if you were detained during a traffic stop and an officer found you possessed small amounts of drugs such as heroin, cocaine, crack, methamphetamine, etc., you would be charged with transporting an illegal drug under Health and Safety Code section 11379 or 11352. These charges are “straight” felonies, even though you had no intent to sell any drugs. This meant you would be facing potential prison time (served in county jail most of the time), and would never be able to reduce your felony to a misdemeanor.
Luckily, in 2016, AB730 passed and this law defined “transport” as “transport for sale”. Therefore, anyone found to be transporting drugs for personal use would be facing a misdemeanor, not a felony. In 2013, the legislature started the process of reducing felony personal possession transportation charges to misdemeanors, but all drugs were not covered until AB730 took effect in January of 2016.
Now, whether you possess illegal drugs on your person or in a vehicle, if the possession was for personal use and not for sale, you would be facing only misdemeanor charges. This helped to greatly reduce the number of people in Los Angeles prisons and also helped reduced the stigma and life long effects of a drug conviction.
MAXIMUM SENTENCE UNDER H&S SECTION 11350: POSSESSION OF CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE
Health and Safety Code sections 11350 and 11357, makes it a misdemeanor crime to possess certain narcotic drugs such as heroin, cocaine, crack and certain prescription drugs if one does not hold a valid prescription and marijuana. A conviction for possession of a controlled substance can result in a person being sentenced up to one year (364 days) in county jail (since possession for personal use is now a “straight” misdemeanor).
In 2014, Proposition 47 made simple possession of a controlled substance under H&S Code section 11350 a misdemeanor, making most people eligible for a diversion program such as that set forth in Proposition 36 or PC section 1000. Those who successfully complete these programs, earn a dismissal of the charges.
ELEMENTS OF THE CRIME TO PROVE POSSESSION CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE UNDER H&S 11350:
To prove you illegally possessed a controlled substance, a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you:
- Possessed the drug (either actually, or constructively),
- You were aware of the drugs presence (knowledge),
- You knew it was a controlled substance, and
- You possessed a usable quantity. (Useable quality does not require a showing that the accused would feel the desired effects of the drug. There only needs to be enough of the drug to be consumed. Residue or small traces of a drug are not sufficient to prove this element.
CALL DRUG CRIMES ATTORNEY ANN GOTTESMAN FOR A FREE CONSULTATION
If you or a loved one is facing criminal drug charges in Pasadena or anoher Los Angeles County Court, call me, Attorney Ann Gottesman, for a FREE CONSULTATION. I will listen to you and provide you the help you need to fight your drug charges. No one wants to have a criminal conviction on their record. I strive to provide the best legal services for reasonable fees to those accused of criminal offenses in Los Angeles.