What's Next after a Possession Charge?

Possession of controlled substances is a criminal offense that involves actual or constructive (found on the person’s property) possession of cocaine, heroin, peyote, acid, ecstasy, ketamine, methamphetamine, or other illegal narcotics. If found guilty of possession of controlled substances the defendant could face up to one year in jail and probation, or a State Prison sentence depending on the intent of the drug possessor and the quantity, quality of the narcotics involved and/or the defendant’s prior criminal record.

There are differences in the quantity and quality in drugs found on a person which could elevate the charge from a misdemeanor to a felony based on the prosecutor’s discretion. For example, a person found with a gram of methamphetamine is likely to be charged with simple possession, as opposed to the person found with over 28.5 grams (1 ounce). The quantity being of such difference that the person found with over 28.5 grams of methamphetamine could be charged with intent to sell. 

Likewise, a person found with a gram of marijuana may only be charged with an infraction (or no charge at all) compared to a person found with a gram cocaine or heroin, misdemeanors, because of the severity of the drugs. Cocaine and heroin are generally seen as more dangerous than marijuana, since marijuana is typically viewed as being about as dangerous as alcohol.

If the defendant is charged with simple drug possession that did not also include violence, intent to sell, and found eligible, judgment can be deferred under California Penal Code 1000, which allows the defendant to defer a guilty verdict if they submit to a drug program and then a probationary period. After 18 months the case will be dismissed and wiped off the defendant’s record. In order for deferment to be eligible there must be:

1. No prior drug offenses;

2. Cannot have had your probation or parole revoked without completing your terms or conditions;

3. Cannot have participated in a drug diversion program within five years prior to the alleged commission of the charged offense;

4. And the person may not have any prior felony convictions within five years of the prior charged offense.

If found guilty for possession of controlled substances for a second offense, within five years of the previous conviction and deferred drug program, Penal Code 1210 (Proposition 36) allows for the defendant to apply for a deferred judgment again. There is a big difference, however, because there is no time limit as to when the defendant has to complete the drug program, and the case is not automatically dismissed after completion of the drug program. Instead, the case’s dismissal is left up to the judge’s discretion usually after the defendant motions the court to dismiss after successful completion of the drug program. The judge may order additional conditions to monitor the defendant’s progress such as random drug testing, visits with the probation officer, etc.

If you have been arrested, cited, or detained for possession of controlled substances it is important that you regard this as a serious issue. It is imperative that you receive competent legal advice immediately. After being arrested, cited, or detained call The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian at (714) 336-5303 today to set up a free consultation with an attorney who can give you clear and concise information about your rights.