FAQs on California Possession of a Controlled Substance Laws – 11350 (a) H&S
Our California Drug attorneys answer some of the questions we frequently receive about 11350 (a) HS, possession of a controlled substance.
Can I be charged with possession of heroin under 11350 (a) H&S even if I didn’t intend to use or sell it?
Yes. You can be charged with possession of a controlled substance even if you did not intend to sell or use the drugs. The key issues are whether you had knowledge of the drug’s presence and whether you had control over its disposition. It is irrelevant for what purpose you planned to use the drugs so long as the prosecution can prove these two factors.
Can I be charged with 11350 (a) H&S if I was not aware of the drug’s presence?
No. In order to convict you of possession of a controlled substance under California Health and Safety Code section 11350, the prosecution must prove that you knew of the presence of the drug at the time it was found to be in your possession. If you had no knowledge of the drug’s presence you cannot be convicted of this offense.
For example: You borrow your brother’s backpack because you are tired of carrying your books to class. A school official stops you and asks you to search the bag. Not thinking that there is anything illegal contained therein, you consent to the search. As it turns out, there is a small amount of marijuana stashed in one of the pockets. Although you had possession of the marijuana, you had no idea of its presence within the backpack and therefore cannot be convicted of possession of a controlled substance.
If I am convicted of possession of a controlled substance in California do I have to serve jail time?
No. Although a conviction for possession of a controlled substance can result in incarceration for up to three years, the court has several options that it can impose in lieu of jail time. Diversion programs under California Penal Code section 1000 and Proposition 36 allow the court to grant you rehabilitative treatment for substance abuse rather than facing a harsh jail sentence. If you successfully finish the diversion program and are found to be on good behavior, your case will likely be dismissed. The court can also impose formal probation for up to three years rather than jail time. However, a violation of your probation terms can result in incarceration for the maximum term allowed by law.
Can I be convicted of possession of a controlled substance under 11350 (a) H&S for prescription medication in California?
Yes. Possession of a controlled substance not only includes illegal drugs such as heroin or methamphetamine, but it can also encompass a wide variety of legal prescription drugs. If you are found to be in possession of prescription medication and do not have a valid prescription from a licensed doctor, your possession of the drugs is considered illegal and you can be convicted under Health and Safety Code section 11350 (a) H&S.
If the drugs were found in my car and not on my person, can I still be convicted of possession of a controlled substance?
Yes. In order to be convicted of possession of a controlled substance, you do not actually need to be holding or touching the drug to be found in possession of it. Constructive possession exists when the drug is found in an area over which you exercise control. Therefore if the substance is found in your car, bedroom or any other area which you are likely to exert control, you can be convicted of possession even though the drugs were not found on your person.
If I have been charged with possession of a controlled substance under 11350(a) H&S, who should I call?
With offices in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Victorville and West Covina, Wallin & Klarich has over 40 years of experience in successfully representing Southern California residents who have been charged with possession of a controlled substance. Drawing from our extensive years of experience, we are available to answer any questions you have and are willing to go the extra mile in your defense.
If you are facing prosecution for possession of a controlled substance, call our criminal defense attorneys today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245. We will be there when you call.