Most Common Drug-Related Offenses in California
Facing drug-related charges can leave you struggling to recover. Your future may be on the line, and you may be unsure how to deal with the offenses you’ve been accused of.
If you have been charged with a drug-related offense in California, know that Crowell Law Offices are standing by to make sure you know all of your rights and all of the possible paths you can take forward.
What Are Controlled Substances?
Controlled substances are any drugs or medication that can cause physical or mental dependence. The Controlled Substances Act places these substances into five categories, or schedules, based on their medicinal uses, the potential for abuse, and liability regarding dependence.
Substances are divided into categories based on two criteria: the drug’s widely accepted medical use, and the drug’s potential for abuse and dependency. The latter is more heavily considered when classifying a drug into the schedule system.
The higher the substance’s potential for abuse and dependency, the lower the number of the schedule. That means Schedule 1 drugs have the highest potential for abuse, while Schedule 5 drugs have the lowest, comparatively. The schedule of the drug in a drug-related offense greatly impacts the consequences you will face from California law.
- Schedule 1 drugs do not have accepted medical uses currently, except marijuana, and include heroin, ecstasy, LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), and marijuana (cannabis).
- Schedule 2 drugs include cocaine, morphine, opium, amphetamine (like Adderall), methamphetamine (like Desoxyn), and methylphenidate (like Ritalin).
- Schedule 3 drugs have a moderate potential for abuse and include Vicodin, anabolic steroids, and products with less than 90 mg of codeine per dose.
- Schedule 4 drugs have a relatively low potential for abuse and dependence, including drugs like Valium, Ativan, and Restoril.
- Schedule 5 drugs have the lowest potential for abuse when compared to all other controlled substances and include Lyrica, ezogabine, and cough suppressants.
Misdemeanors, Felonies, and Federal Charges
Misdemeanors are the least serious drug offense. They are punishable by a fine of up to $4,000, and a year in jail. Drug-related misdemeanors include possession of a Schedule 3 or 4 controlled substance, possession of fewer than four ounces of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Felony drug charges are much more serious. The amount of drug present at arrest is the biggest thing influencing whether a charge will be a misdemeanor or a felony, but there are other factors to consider.
Felony drug charges include having a certain amount of a Schedule 3 or 4 controlled substance, possessing any amount of a Schedule 1 or 2 controlled substance, growing marijuana, intent to distribute drugs, or distribution of drugs.
Federal drug charges are the most severe of all. To have a federal charge means you’ve broken national law or that the offenses you’re charged with cross state lines. Common federal charges include the following:
- Drug trafficking
- Drug crimes on federal or government property
- Importing drugs
- Selling or transporting drugs using the US Postal Service
- Transporting drugs across state lines
Drug possession is one of the most common drug-related offenses in California. Drug possession can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstance. To be convicted of drug possession, your prosecutor must have proof that you knew about the drug, you knew it was illegal, and that you had enough to use.
California, unlike many other states, enforces drug charges and punishments on a case-by-case basis.
If you are caught with more than the legal amount of marijuana, but it’s a first time-offense, you may be facing a misdemeanor, for example. If someone with multiple prior convictions that is also, say, in possession of a firearm, is found with the same amount, they might be charged with a felony.
There are three types of possession you can be charged with: actual, constructive, and joint.
Actual possession is when drugs are found on your person, such as in your jacket pocket or hand. Constructive possession is when drugs are found in a nearby place that is easily accessible to you, like your car glove box or inside your pillowcase. Constructive possession can only be charged if the prosecution proves that the drugs found were definitely yours.
Joint possession is when drugs exist in a shared space where multiple parties can easily access them, like in a box on the coffee table in an apartment housing a group of roommates.
Seek Out an Attorney to Defend Your Case
If you or someone you love has been charged with drug possession, sale, manufacturing, or another related charge in Sacramento, know that you have the option to fight the charges. At Crowell Law Offices, we have a record of success and want to extend help from our winning team of lawyers to you.
If you’re facing drug-related charges, reach out to a drug lawyer today. Call 916-303-2800 or fill out the following online contact form to get started.