The Criminal Code of California outlines the various drug charges that apply to the state and the penalties for each. Various aggravating factors in a case can potentially increase the penalties a defendant faces. The presence of these factors can significantly extend a sentence and the scope of the other punishments conviction will entail. The three most prosecuted drug crimes in California include:
- Simple possession. This is the least severe drug charge you might face in San Bernardino and typically applies to small quantities of controlled substances discovered in your possession. Simple possession typically qualifies as a misdemeanor, but the schedule of the drug in question can influence sentencing. Schedule I drugs are the most tightly controlled and are those believed to have no medical value and high potential for abuse. Schedule V drugs hold the least severe consequences and include over-the-counter substances that have some potential for misuse.
- Possession with intent to sell. This offense can qualify as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the type of drug and the quantity the suspect had in their possession at the time of their arrest. Arresting officers discern intent to sell by examining evidence from the scene of the arrest, such as a large quantity of drugs, materials indicating the suspect planned to divide drugs into smaller doses for sale, measurement devices, and substantial amounts of cash.
- Drug trafficking. The most serious drug charges an individual might face in California include drug trafficking, which applies when an individual transports controlled substances across county or state lines. It’s possible for a drug trafficking case to be brought to federal court depending on the scope of the trafficking operation. The suspect will face a felony conviction with severe penalties depending on the type of drug, the quantity in their possession, and any other aggravating factors present in the case.
Anyone arrested for drug charges in California should know that state drug laws conflict with federal drug laws in multiple ways. It’s possible for a suspect to face a federal drug charge and harsher penalties for federal offenses, such as drug trafficking across state lines. Drug offenses prosecuted at the state level generally entail lighter penalties, but they can still negatively impact your life for years to come if you are convicted.
San Bernardino Marijuana Offenses
Marijuana remains one of the areas where state and federal drug laws conflict. California was one of the first states to legalize medical marijuana and has recently decriminalized and regulated recreational marijuana sales for adults over 21. However, despite these laws, it is still possible to face marijuana charges in San Bernardino, CA.
It is legal for adults over 21 to purchase marijuana, but only in specific quantities from state-licensed dispensaries. It’s legal to consume marijuana and marijuana products in one’s own home, but it remains illegal to use marijuana in public, near schools, or on any government property. It’s legal for adults to cultivate their own marijuana plants at home out of view of the public, but it remains illegal to conduct private transactions to purchase or sell marijuana. It is also illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana—doing so could lead to a driving under the influence (DUI) charge and severe penalties, especially if your DUI caused injuries or related accidents.
What Can You Lose if You Are Convicted of Drug Possession in California?
California recently reduced the penalties for most drug possession charges down to the misdemeanor level. If you are charged with simple possession in San Bernardino, you likely face a maximum penalty of up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Possession with intent to sell could be charged as a felony if the drug involved is a certain type, possessed in large quantities, or if there are other aggravating factors in the case. For example, if you were arrested in possession of a half-ounce of narcotics, you may face a misdemeanor charge. However, if you had a kilogram of drugs and a firearm in your possession, you would likely face felony charges. Your criminal record can also influence the potential penalties for a drug offense conviction in San Bernardino.
Drug trafficking qualifies for felony prosecution in California, and a suspect charged with drug trafficking faces three to nine years in prison and fines up to $20,000. Aggravating factors such as an exceptionally large quantity of illegal drugs, the presence of firearms in the suspect’s possession, and trafficking near substance abuse treatment centers or schools can significantly increase these penalties.
How Our Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Help With Drugs Charges
When you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony drug offense in San Bernardino, reliable defense counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney is the most important asset you can have. Your San Bernardino drug crimes attorney can help you determine the best available defenses in your case and assist you in collecting evidence that might help you avoid conviction. Whether you are innocent and wrongfully charged or you know you made a mistake and broke the law, reliable defense counsel is essential in this demanding situation.
The laws of due process in the United States place the burden of proof on the prosecution in any criminal case. This means the defendant is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and it is up to the prosecution to offer evidence and witness testimony to meet this standard of proof. Your San Bernardino drug crimes attorney must focus on dismantling the prosecution’s case, calling their evidence’s credibility into question, and offering contradictory evidence that can help them prove your innocence.
Secure Representation from a San Bernardino Drug Crimes Attorney
Every drug case prosecuted in San Bernardino involves unique details—no two defendants will face the exact same situation, even if they are charged with equivalent drug offenses. If you or a loved one have been charged with any drug offense in San Bernardino, it’s vital to exercise your right to legal counsel and secure defense representation from an experienced San Bernardino drug crimes attorney. My SoCal Lawyers can provide the legal counsel you need to navigate your drug offense case with greater confidence. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with an experienced San Bernardino drug crimes attorney and learn how our law firm can empower your defense.