Both the U.S. government and its enforcement arms such as the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) oversee drug crimes, as do local and state authorities in California. The majority of charges will stem from state enforcement, but the federal government will get involved if:
- You cross state lines in possession of a controlled substance
- You’re caught possessing or distributing a controlled substance on federal government property, even a U.S. park
- You sell or transport a controlled substance through the U.S. mail or private delivery service
- You import a controlled substance into the U.S. even if you have a valid prescription
Dramatic Changes to
California Drug Laws
Two voter-approved propositions drastically changed the controlled substance landscape in California.
First came Proposition 47 in 2014, which relaxed drug possession charges in California from potential felonies to misdemeanors in many cases. Since its passage, “simple possession,” or possession of a controlled substance for personal use, is now considered a misdemeanor offense, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up-to one year in county jail. Penalties can double depending on prior felony convictions. Most of the drugs on Schedules I through V are covered, including heroin.
In 2016 Proposition 64 – the Control, Regulate, and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act – legalized recreational use of marijuana among adults. Those 21 or older can possess up to one ounce of marijuana for personal use and can grow up to six marijuana plants, so long as they are on private property and out of view from the public.
Felony Drug Charges in California
Though Prop 47 reduced “simple possession” to a misdemeanor, felony charges may still apply depending on the drug’s classification and quantity in possession. Health and Safety Code Section 11351 calls for any person possessing a classified narcotic substance, not under a medical prescription, to be subject to imprisonment under the penal code.
A felony conviction under this section can result in a sentence of two, three, or four years in prison, unless the offense involves crack (cocaine base) — then the penalty rises to three, four, or five years in prison.
Section 11352 prohibits the sale, importation, transportation, and distribution of controlled substances in California. This section makes it a felony to sell, furnish, administer, transport for sale, import, or give away a controlled substance other than marijuana or methamphetamine (which are covered by separate laws). Penalties here are three, four, or five years in prison, but rise to three, six, or nine years if the drugs are transported for sale beyond a neighboring county.
Section 11379 prohibits the sale, transportation, or importation of methamphetamine and other drugs, including GHB, ketamine, and specified anabolic steroids. A conviction can result in prison time of up to two, three, or four years. The prison time rises depending on the amount of substance involved. For instance, more than 1 kilogram can add three years, and more than 20 kilograms can add 15 years to your sentence.
Put an Experienced Defense
Attorney On Your Side
If you’re facing drug charges, especially if they’re felony drug charges, you don’t want to rely on a public defender to defend your case. Public defenders are often overworked with too many cases and won’t have the time to investigate and develop a strong defense for you. Their recourse of choice is often to ask you to accept a plea bargain for a reduced sentence. If you are being investigated or charged with a drug crime, you deserve a skilled California criminal defense attorney in your corner to protect your rights and fight for your freedom. Remember, just because you’ve been arrested, doesn’t mean you’re guilty. Call or reach out to my firm, the Darryl A. Stallworth Law Office, today so I can begin defending your rights.