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California Drug Possession Charges: The Basics


Facing drug possession charges can be a terrifying and overwhelming experience. If you find yourself in this difficult situation, it is important to understand the laws surrounding the possession of drugs in California and the potential penalties you may face. 

Below, we explore the key aspects of drug possession charges and provide valuable information to help you navigate through this challenging time. If you or a loved one is facing drug possession charges in Orange County, California, do not hesitate to reach out to the Law Offices of William W. Bruzzo for legal guidance and support.

Understanding Possession of Controlled Substance Laws

In California, possession of a controlled substance is a serious offense. The state has strict laws in place to regulate the possession, use, and distribution of drugs. Under California Health and Safety Code § 11350, it is illegal to possess any controlled substance without a valid prescription. Controlled substances include drugs such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, ecstasy, and prescription medications without a valid prescription.

To prove possession, the prosecution must establish that you had physical or constructive possession of the controlled substance. Physical possession refers to having the drug on your person, while constructive possession means having control or access to the drug, even if it is not directly on your person. 

Being in close proximity to drugs or having the intent to exercise control over them can also be grounds for a possession charge.

Penalties for Drug Possession in California

The penalties for drug possession in California can vary depending on several factors, including the type and quantity of the drug involved, your criminal history, and whether you intended to sell or distribute the drugs. In general, drug possession is prosecuted as a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in county jail, fines, probation, and mandatory drug counseling.

However, certain circumstances can elevate the offense to a felony, leading to more severe consequences. These circumstances include possessing drugs for sale, possessing large quantities of drugs, or possessing drugs near a school or other designated areas. 

Felony drug possession convictions can result in imprisonment, substantial fines, loss of professional licenses, and a permanent criminal record.

Exceptions to the California Drug Possession Laws

While drug possession is generally illegal in California, there are exceptions and potential defenses that an experienced criminal defense attorney can explore. Some common defenses include lack of knowledge of the drug’s presence, prescription drug possession with a valid prescription, and lawful possession for medical purposes under California’s Compassionate Use Act.

It is crucial to consult with a knowledgeable attorney to determine the best defense strategy for your case. The Law Offices of William W. Bruzzo have extensive experience defending individuals against drug possession charges in Orange County. Our experience and familiarity with the local courts, judges, and district attorneys can significantly improve your chances of obtaining a positive outcome.

Drug Diversion Programs in California

In some cases, California offers drug diversion programs as an alternative to traditional criminal prosecution. These programs, such as Proposition 36 and Deferred Entry of Judgment (DEJ), focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment. 

By completing drug treatment and meeting other program requirements, individuals can avoid conviction and have the opportunity to turn their lives around. Participating in a drug diversion program can have significant benefits. Successful completion can result in the dismissal of charges or reduced penalties, providing a fresh start for individuals dealing with a drug possession charge.

Call an Orange County Criminal Defense Lawyer

Contact the Law Offices of William W. Bruzzo today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Orange County criminal defense lawyer. With our decades of experience and deep understanding of the local courts and legal system, they will provide you with skilled representation tailored to your unique situation. Call (714) 547-4636 now or contact us online to take the first step towards protecting your future.

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