The California Penal Code provides a basic outline of the drug charges that may apply to your criminal case. Depending on the type and quantity of the substance involved in your case, as well as your behavior, you will likely face one or more of the three most cited drug offenses in California:
- Illegal drug possession. It is illegal to possess any controlled substance in California. “Controlled substances” is a term that refers to drugs scheduled by the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Schedule I drugs are the most serious and include substances with a high potential for abuse and no acknowledged medical value. Comparatively, Schedule V drugs include some medications available over the counter with potential for abuse.
- Possession with intent to sell. Possessing drugs with the intent of personal use is the most basic drug offense one can face in California. However, if the arresting officers notice other evidence that indicates a suspect planned to distribute or sell the drugs in their possession, the charge escalates to possession with intent to sell. Examples of evidence that could indicate possession with intent to sell include baggies, measurement devices, and a large number of drugs.
- Drug trafficking. This charge pertains to transporting illegal drugs across state or county lines. This is the most serious drug offense prosecuted in California. The quantity of drugs and distance traveled are the most crucial factors when it comes to potential penalties.
It’s important to note that California’s drug laws conflict with US federal drug laws in many ways. While it’s possible for an individual to face federal charges for certain drug charges—particularly drug trafficking across state lines—drug offenses prosecuted at the state level adhere to California state laws. Marijuana is one drug that often leads to confusion when it comes to prosecution for drug offenses due to the California laws in place pertaining to medical marijuana and recreational marijuana for adults over 21.
Marijuana Laws in California
California was the first US state to legalize medical cannabis, and the state recently approved recreational cannabis sales for adults over 21. While it is now legal for California residents over the age of 21 to purchase marijuana, they may only do so from state-licensed retailers. Additionally, there are limits to the amount of marijuana or marijuana products an individual may possess at any given time. There are also laws that allow for the private cultivation of marijuana plants.
If you are over the age of 21 in California, you can legally purchase and consume marijuana and marijuana products. However, you may not use marijuana in public, near schools, or on government property. Additionally, it remains illegal to operate a vehicle under the influence of marijuana. Doing so could lead to criminal charges for driving under the influence (DUI). It is also illegal to engage in any “black market” sale or purchase of marijuana. You cannot conduct any private transactions for marijuana—if you wish to make a purchase, you must follow state law and utilize a state-licensed dispensary.
Potential Penalties for Drug Offense Conviction in Riverside
California state lawmakers recently reduced the penalties for most simple possession offenses to the misdemeanor level. If your drug charge equates to simple possession, the maximum penalty you face for this misdemeanor offense is up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000. If you were arrested for possession with intent to sell, you likely face a felony drug charge that could carry a sentence of at least three years in prison. The type of drug, the quantity in your possession, and your criminal record can all influence the judge’s sentencing decision.
Drug trafficking is a felony in California, and potential penalties can include three to nine years in prison and fines up $20,000. Aggravating factors in the case, such as domestic violence, carrying a weapon while drug trafficking, engaging in drug trafficking activities near a school or rehab center, or transporting very large quantities of controlled substances, can potentially add several years and larger fines to the sentence.
Contact Your Drug Crime Lawyer Today
If you face misdemeanor or felony drug charges in Riverside, it is essential to exercise your rights and do your best to build the strongest possible defense against conviction. Your Riverside drug possession attorney can help you navigate the details of your case. A skilled attorney may uncover evidence that proves you are innocent or gives you the opportunity to have your charges and penalties reduced.
In any criminal case in the US, the burden of proof rests on the prosecution. This means the prosecutors filing charges against a defendant must prove the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant is innocent until proven guilty under the laws of due process. Your defense lawyer’s job is to prevent the prosecution from meeting the standard of proof of “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.” This may require questioning the credibility of the prosecution’s evidence and witness testimony or providing contradictory evidence that proves the defendant’s innocence. Every drug offense case in Riverside will involve unique details. It’s vital for a defendant to work closely with their Riverside criminal defense attorney to determine their best available defense.
Skilled Drug Crimes Attorneys in Riverside, CA
If you or a loved one were recently arrested in Riverside for any type of drug offense, it is essential to exercise your right to legal counsel as soon as possible and retain the services of an experienced Riverside drug crimes attorney. The team at My SoCal Lawyers can provide the legal counsel you need in this challenging situation, and we will work quickly to help you build the strongest possible defense. If you are ready to discuss your case with a reliable Riverside drug crimes lawyer, contact My SoCal Lawyers today to schedule your consultation with our team.