Your entire life could be affected when you have been accused of possessing a controlled substance. However, one of the most serious types of drug offenses in California can be found under the CA Health and Safety Code 11377 (a): methamphetamine & drug possession.
Possessing methamphetamine and other Schedule l controlled substances is one of the most severe drug crimes you could be charged with. Take your defense seriously. Get help from a Los Angeles DUI attorney and protect your future. Schedule your confidential case assessment today when you call our office to start working on your defense strategy.
Elements of a CA Health and Safety Code 11377(a) Methamphetamine & Drug Possession Charge
Possession of methamphetamine is a criminal offense under CA Health and Safety Code 11377(a). For the prosecutor to obtain a conviction, they must prove the elements of the crime have been met as follows:
- The defendant was in possession of methamphetamine
- The defendant knew they were in possession of methamphetamines
- The defendant knew they were in possession of a controlled substance, even if they thought it was a different drug
- There was a considerable amount of methamphetamine but no residue or traces of the controlled substance
California law states that an individual can be in possession of methamphetamine if they:
- Had joint possession, meaning they shared constructive or actual possession with others
- Had actual possession, meaning they had methamphetamines on their person
- Had constructive possession, meaning they had control over an area where methamphetamines were located
Knowledge of the Presence of Methamphetamines
You must have known you were in possession of methamphetamines for these charges to apply. This means you must have known that the controlled substance in question was methamphetamines or that you were in possession of any controlled substance.
Usable Quantity of Methamphetamines
You can only be charged with possession of methamphetamines if you were in possession of a usable amount of the controlled substance. This does not necessarily mean it must be enough to impair you, but it must have been more than trace amounts for charges under CA Health and Safety Code 11377(a) to apply.
Simple Possession vs. Possession for Sale
Generally, you could expect to see simple possession charges instead of possession-for-sale charges depending on the amount of the methamphetamines in question. The greater the amount of methamphetamines, the more likely you will face possession for sale charges in addition to your simple possession charges.
You could also face possession-for-sale charges if the methamphetamines are packaged into multiple baggies. If law enforcement officials did not find packaging materials but did find drug paraphernalia, simple possession charges may be more appropriate.
Penalties of a Conviction for Methamphetamine Possession in CA
The consequences of a conviction for methamphetamine possession in California can be found under the CA Health and Safety Code 11377(a). Generally, this is charged as a misdemeanor. If convicted of a misdemeanor methamphetamine possession, you will be fined $1,000 and could spend up to one year in county jail.
However, methamphetamine possession can also be charged as a felony if you have a prior conviction for certain types of criminal offenses, such as certain types of violent sex crimes.
Suppose you are accused of possessing more than 1 kg of methamphetamine. In that case, even if you intended to keep it for personal use, you will be charged at the felony level and face up to 15 years in a California state prison.
Defending Against Charges Under CA Vehicle Code 11377 (a)
You might need to defend yourself at trial if you are accused of an offense under the Health and Safety Code section 11377(a). Multiple defenses could be suitable for your case, some of which include arguing that:
- The methamphetamine was not yours
- You had a valid prescription for the methamphetamines
- You were in possession of an amount of methamphetamines that is consistent with your prescription
- You were unlawfully searched
- The police did not have a search warrant
- You did not have the intent to sell methamphetamines
- You did not personally distribute, sell, or use methamphetamines
Suppose you were delivering methamphetamines via a prescription to another party, had no intent to sell methamphetamines, and are not a methamphetamines user. In that case, you should be able to avoid the consequences of a conviction. In fact, by introducing this evidence before trial, we could get the state to dismiss the case against you entirely.
Drug Diversion Eligibility
In some cases, you will not need to bring your methamphetamine possession case to court. California law allows individuals charged with violations under CA HS 11377 to enter pretrial and drug diversion programs if certain conditions are met.
You could qualify if this is only your first or second nonviolent offense and the methamphetamines were solely for your use. However, you may be disqualified from drug diversion programs if:
- You were accused of possession of methamphetamines for sale under California Health and Safety Code 11378
- You were charged with selling methamphetamines under California Health and Safety Code 11379
Alternatively, the district attorney may be willing to accept a guilty plea for simple possession of methamphetamine in exchange for a plea agreement. If you plead guilty, the district attorney will allow you to retain your drug diversion eligibility. If you enter a drug diversion program, you must also meet specific requirements.
Once the terms are met, the drug charges against you can be dropped, as you can move forward with your life without the criminal penalties of a conviction.
Get Help Defending Against CA Health and Safety Code 11377(a) Violations
There are a few types of drug-related crimes as severe as methamphetamine & drug possession under CA Health and Safety Code 11377(a).
Do not let these charges define your life. Take steps to clear your name and secure your future when you contact a reputable Los Angeles DUI attorney for help. Complete our secured contact form or call our office to schedule your no-obligation defense strategy session today.