In California, possessing, distributing, or selling cocaine is a criminal offense. The penalties for cocaine-related offenses differ depending on how much cocaine is involved. If you have been arrested in possession of cocaine, it is vital that you comprehend the charges and potential penalties you are facing.
A Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer can assist you if you find yourself facing a drug-related offense.
What Is the Threshold for a California Felony Cocaine Charge?
Cocaine possession for personal use is considered a misdemeanor in California. Cocaine possession can be a felony charge if the threshold reaches the amount that would be applicable to sell or for distribution. These thresholds for felony cocaine charges in the state of California are as follows:
- Possession of greater than 28.5 grams of cocaine
- Possession of crack cocaine, also referred to as cocaine base, of greater than 8 grams
If the threshold amount was in the defendant’s possession, they could be charged with a felony. The severity of the consequence will depend upon the amount of cocaine discovered.
If Convicted of Cocaine Possession, What Are the Penalties?
Various considerations are taken into account when deciding how to penalize someone who has been charged with cocaine possession. Whether the cocaine was for personal use or enough to distribute will factor into the penalties, as will any prior criminal convictions. Below are some of California’s penalties for cocaine possession.
- A maximum of $1,000 in fines for a misdemeanor conviction
- A two, three or four-year sentence in a county jail for the felony charge of possession of cocaine for sale
- Up to $20,000 in fines for a felony amount of cocaine
- Possession of more than the threshold amount of felony cocaine carries a three, four, or five-year county jail sentence
Your criminal defense attorney may advise you about Penal Code 1000 PC. This pretrial diversion program could allow you to complete treatment and education programs instead of jail time.
In the end, you could end up spending more time in jail, or it could cost you far more in fines if there are aggravating circumstances or if the defendant has prior convictions. Your criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles can aid you in determining the severity of the charges mounted against you.
What Other Ways a Cocaine Possession Conviction Could Alter My Life?
When you are arrested for possession of cocaine, no matter the amount, you face penalties from the court. But, what many people do not consider is the cost of the conviction, outside of the amount of money spent on fines and legal fees. Some other aspects of your life that can potentially be negatively impacted are listed below:
- Lost Wages: If you have to miss work for court appearances, jail time, or a longer sentence, you could miss out on those wages. While that can negatively impact your financial situation, it can also be more long-term if your employer is unwilling to hold your job for you while you serve your sentence.
- Employment difficulties: Finding a job with a criminal record can add another level of challenges to searching for a career. When competing for a job, often, the potential employee with a criminal record will be overlooked if someone with a clean record is also applying.
- Securing housing: Landlords often run background checks, and in an effort to keep their property safe and sound, they are unlikely to rent to someone that feels risky because of a criminal record.
- Child custody: When seeking child custody, or even visitation, a cocaine possession conviction can deter the court from granting you access to your child.
- Lost educational opportunities: Many colleges run background checks on their applicants. A criminal record can make you ineligible for a spot in many programs and can make scholarships and student loans more difficult to obtain.
- Loans and credit: A criminal record can make building your credit or qualifying for loans more challenging.
- Voting rights: While in jail and on probation, you may not be allowed to vote in local, state, or federal elections.
- Gun ownership: California’s convicted felons cannot legally possess firearms.
- Revoked or suspended licenses: Professional licenses may be revoked or suspended because of a cocaine possession conviction.
What Are Some Common Defenses for Cocaine Possession in California?
When charged with a cocaine possession charge in the state of California, some common defenses that might be successful are as follows:
- Unlawful search and seizure: When law enforcement finds cocaine through illegal methods, the evidence may be suppressed.
- Lack of knowledge: If the accused was unaware that the drugs were in their possession, it could be argued that they lacked knowledge of the cocaine’s presence.
What Should You Do if You Are Arrested for Cocaine Possession?
If you have been arrested for cocaine possession, it is imperative that you seek legal counsel. Your Los Angeles criminal defense attorney has the experience and knowledge to ensure that you understand your legal rights and possible defense strategies and possibly advocate for you to reduce your charges or your sentence.
If you are arrested, here are some other things we would recommend you do:
- Remain calm and do not resist arrest.
- Cooperate while keeping communication to a minimum. Remember not to say anything that could be incriminating.
- Contact a criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles so that your rights are protected, and you have guidance on how you should proceed.
- Only speak with your lawyer about your case. Assume that anything you say will be held against you in court.
- Attend all court dates, and follow the conditions outlined when you were released to avoid additional charges or penalties.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Los Angeles today.
Should you find yourself facing a cocaine possession charge, whether it is a felony or misdemeanor, hiring a criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles is crucial. We can analyze your case and devise a strategy to help you achieve the most beneficial resolution possible.
Understanding the charges against you and determining the best possible defense strategy with a knowledgeable, experienced legal team gives you the best chance of beating the charges levied against you.