Health & Safety Code section 11377 involves the crime of simple possession of methamphetamine. This crime is generally charged as a misdemeanor under current California law and carries with it up to one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. In limited circumstances, this crime may still be filed as a felony and can carry with it 16 months, two years, or three years in state prison.
California law defines possession as either actual possession, “constructive” possession, or joint possession of the drug. Actual possession means that you actually, physically possessed the controlled substance. Constructive possession, on the other hand, means that you knowingly exercised control over or the right to control the drug, either directly or through another person or persons. And finally, joint possession is seen in cases where there are multiple people present when the controlled substance is located, such as methamphetamine being located inside a vehicle during a traffic stop.
In order for the prosecution to prove its case, they must show that the person knew the substance was a controlled substance and that there was enough of the drug to constitute a usable amount. The elements of these offenses are:
- A person exercised control over or the right to control an amount of the drug
- That the person knew of its presence
- That person knew of its nature as a controlled substance
- The substance was in an amount sufficient to be used as a controlled substance
Health & Safety Code section 11350 makes it unlawful to possess other controlled substances, such as cocaine, heroin and LSD. It also criminalizes possession of certain prescription drugs without a prescription, such as oxycodone (Oxycontin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), and codeine. This crime is also generally filed as a misdemeanor under current California law and carries with it up to one year in local county jail and/or up to a $1,000 fine. If you qualify, however, you may be eligible for a drug diversion program which would allow you to take classes and comply with certain conditions in order to have your case dismissed completely. Under certain limited circumstances, this crime may still be filed as a felony and may carry with it up to three years in state prison.
As listed above, various defenses to the crime of simple possession under Health & Safety Code section 11350 also include lack of knowledge of the drugs presence, lack of knowledge that the substance is a controlled substance, you did not possess the drugs, you possessed a valid prescription for the drugs, or the drugs were located during an unlawful search. In many cases, a skilled Temecula criminal defense attorney will be able to review your case and file a suppression motion for you, pursuant to Penal Code section 1538.5 in order to get your charges dismissed.
If you are charged with the crime of simple possession, make sure to contact an experienced drug possession attorney in order to explore every option available to you. Contact Attorney Parwana Anwar at The Law Offices of Parwana Anwar, PLC today for your free consultation today.