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Drug Possession

California Health and Safety Code 11350(a) HS makes illegal to possess a controlled substance without a valid prescription.  The act established a crime to have possess of illegal drugs, a person could be charged of a crime if he/she possesses certain illegal controlled substances. In California , controlled substance is a drug or chemical whose manufacture, possession and use are regulated by the government, under the US Controlled Substances Act.

The government act established an extended list of what is considered controlled substances for the purpose of this offenses, including, narcotics and prescription drugs, as:

  • Cocaine
  • LSD
  • Opiates and opiate derivatives
  • Heroin
  • Codeine
  • Peyote
  • Hydrocone (Vicodin) and;
  • Oxycode (Oxycontin).

For the purpose of possessing controlled substances, marijuana is not included in this section, Marijuana is going to be under the crime of possession marijuana.

Furthermore, the statute established broadly the crime of possession of a controlled substances, however, the definition of possess means, to have constructive control of the substances, in other words, so long as you have the opportunity to control the substances, you could be convicted of this offense.  For instance, you do not need to have the substance with you in order to be charged, so long as you are keeping the drug inside your house, car or office, it is enough to qualify as a possession of drug.


Clark have drugs at his house in San Diego, but he lives in Las Vegas. He could be guilty of  possess controlled substances, even if he is far away from the drug, since the drugs are inside his house, so long as he has right to control the drugs and is aware of it.

In order for someone being convicted of this type of offense, the prosecution must show the following elements into court:

  1. The defendant exercised control over the drugs.
  2. The defendant had knowledge about the drug.
  3. The defendant knew about the nature of the drug.
  4. There was sufficient quantity of the drug to be used as a controlled substance.

Let's explain in details those elements of possession for better comprehension. These conditions are essential for someone being convicted of this offense, if the prosecution does not prove these elements, a person should not be convicted of drug possession.  San Diego Criminal Attorney will work to prove the innocence of its clients.

  1. Control and Possession

The definition of possession could refer as actual, constructive and joint possession. The actual possession is when a person has direct and immediate physical control over the controlled substance. For instance, the drug is on your pocket, purse or backpack.  It is important to explain, that if the police finds you if actual possession of a drug, it is going to be a strong evidence in order to prove possession into court.

The constructive possession is when a person exercises control over the location where the drug was found. This control could be exercise by the defendant or another person. Furthermore, just having constructive possession is enough to satisfy the crime of possession, even though the defendant did not have access to a controlled substance or was not nearby the drugs. Last, the possession could be referred also as joint possession, in which is considered when you and at least one person have shared actual or constructive possession. 

The defendant had knowledge about the drug.

The second element that prosecution must show in court, in order for someone being convicted of this offense, is knowledge.  The evidence of this crime must be sufficient to show that the defendant had knowledge about presence of the drug and knew about the nature of the drug, whereas the defendant knew that that specific drugs are prohibited to possess.

Moreover, you could not be guilty of this crime, if you did not know about the  presence of the drug.

For instance, you gave a ride to your friend and he forgot a box inside your car. Late night, the police stops you to search for things on your car and finds the box with full of cocaine. In this case, you should not be convicted of possession, since you did not know about the drug inside your car.  

There was sufficient quantity of the drug to be used as a controlled substance.

Lastly, the last element that prosecution must show into court, is that the drug was to be used as controlled substance, meaning, if a person does not possess enough drugs to consume, you should not be guilty of possession. In other words, you cannot be guilty if there is not enough of the drug that it could be used as a drug.      

Our criminal defense attorneys are well versed in criminal law pertaining to drug charges. Most drug related charges will result in jail time and high fees. If you have been charged with a drug-related crime, you will need a criminal defense attorney who has exceptional skills The attorneys at San Diego Criminal Attorney will make your drug possession a priority. We cannot guarantee a win in any case, but we can promise you have the best defense and most highly skilled attorney in the courtroom.

The Consequences of a Possession Charge

Possessing or having a controlled substance in any quantity large enough to violate federal, state or local laws is the simple definition of drug possession. The attorneys of San Diego Criminal Attorney are well versed in all aspects of the Drug Possession laws in California.

The consequences of being arrested and charged with drug possession can be a little more difficult to explain. Prosecuting attorneys handle drug cases in a variety of ways. Some are much stricter than others. With that being said, the sentences for possession of a controlled substance may or may not include:

  • Imprisonment
  • Fines
  • Loss of a driver's license
  • Probation

Most courts have penalties that increase with each recurring arrest. The more charges a person has on their record, the stiffer the penalties will be.

Each case is unique and the circumstances under which you were arrested will be discussed during the presentation of your case. If the police can prove intent to distribute the outcome may be far worse than what was expected. In a case of simple possession, however, the judge will consider all aspects of the case and handle it accordingly.

A drug conviction will have a long lasting impact on your life. Years after the case is over, the conviction will remain on your record and continue to show up on criminal background checks. If you are a student with a drug conviction, you will not be able to apply for and receive federal student loans or aid of any kind.


This offense is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000) or by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or by both the fine and imprisonment.

The punishment is a felony if the defendant have any of the following prior convictions: 1. A conviction for a felony, as murder, sex crimes against children under 14, sexual battery, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated or a conviction of sex offender registration.

Further, if someone was charged as a felony, the penalties could be aggravated depending on the facts of the case, a felony is punishable by a fine not exceeding 10 thousand dollars ($10,000) or by imprisonment in county jail not from two (2) years to four (4) years,  or both fine and imprisonment.

Legal Defenses that San Diego Criminal Attorney might build for you

A possession crime is a misdemeanor crime in California Law, if a person is convicted with this type of crime, the crime is going to be on the person's criminal records. If you are looking for a job and the employer does a criminal background check and there is offense registered, it is likely that the employer won't hire someone with a felony background.  If you were charged with this offense, you should promptly look for a Lawyer. San Diego Criminal Attorney has a great deal of success defending our clients and it can help you to build legal defenses that it could be use to contest these types of charges. If you would like more information, please contact our successful our staff to help you with your legal problems. 

To contest the charges of assault with deadly weapon, San Diego Criminal Attorney would be able to use the following legal defenses:

  • Valid prescription of the drug

If you were charged of possession crime because you had control of Vicodin or Oxycontin, however, if you had a valid prescription to possess these drugs, you could not be convicted of this offense.

  • Lack of possess

If you were charged of possession and you did not have possess of the controlled substance, you should not be convicted of this offense.

  • Lack of knowledge

Another strong defense that San Diego Criminal Attorney could build for you, is the lack of knowledge defense. If you did not know about the drugs, you should not be guilty of possession.

  • Illegal search and seizure

Searching you or your property without a valid California search warrant,

Exceeding the scope of a search warrant (for example, searching your car when the warrant only authorized a search of your office); or Unlawfully detaining and searching you without probable cause. 

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