Methamphetamine is a potent stimulant in California, which causes exceptional negative stigma. It’s also known as glass, ice, tina, or shard. Under California law, it’s a serious offense to be convicted of possession of meth. Therefore, you may face an uphill task to have your name cleared in the criminal justice system if you have been charged with possessing meth. Additionally, if you’re convicted of possessing meth, the drug crime's permanent record may deny you financial aid for school, rights of owning a gun, and getting a job. With your future at stake, it’s important to hire a reputable attorney to handle your case. Our attorneys at Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm have vast experience and can help create the best defense.
Meaning of Possession Under PC 11377
According to PC 11377, you can possess meth in different forms. These forms include constructive possession, joint possession, and actual possession. If meth is found in a place, you have access to or over which you have control, you constructively possessed it. If meth is located in your house, you have constructive possession of meth since you often access the house. The control may be either direct or indirect. You may face charges even though you were away when the police located the drugs in your premises. However, if you have a housemate and meth is found in his or her drawer, you may not face constructive drug possession charges since your housemate’s drawer is not under your control.
If you share possession of meth with another individual, then you jointly possessed it. If meth is located in a toilet you share with your brother, you are jointly in possession of meth. Furthermore, if the police arrest you and your brother for sharing a needle full of meth, you may be guilty of joint possession of drugs.
If you exercised direct physical control or had meth on your person, you’re in actual possession. For instance, if you place meth in your pocket, purse, or the trunk of your vehicle, you’re in actual possession of the drug. Actual possession of meth implies that the unlawful substance is on your person. You could still face charges for actual meth possession if the police officers discover that the substance was on you just before their arrival. For example, you could have had some meth in your purse, and on seeing the police, you drop or throw the drugs. You could still get actual meth possession charges if the police provide the evidence that you had possession of the drugs before the arrest. The charges could be applicable if you swallow or ingest the drug to evade an arrest.
Elements of Possessing Meth Under PC 11377
Under California PC 11377 HS, possessing meth without a valid prescription is a crime. If the prosecutor accuses you of possessing meth, he or she must prove beyond doubt that:
- You possessed a usable amount of meth
- You were aware that it was a controlled substance
- You were aware of its presence
- You possessed meth illegally
- You knew of the substance’s nature or character as a controlled substance
You Possessed a Usable Amount of Meth
If you only have a trace of meth, then the requirement that possession must be of a usable quantity will protect you from conviction. However, the term usable doesn’t mean enough to make you feel high of meth, but it only means enough to use. Therefore, the requirement that meth should be in a usable quantity protects you under other circumstances. For instance, you may be found in possession of meth residue, which can’t make you feel high. In this case, your attorney may convince a jury that you didn’t possess meth in a usable quantity.
You Were Aware of Possessing Meth
If another person leaves meth in your car without your knowledge, you didn’t possess it in violation of PC 11377. Being aware of its presence is a phrase that protects individuals who possess meth unknowingly. If you’re found in possession of crystal meth without knowing that it was a controlled drug, you're not guilty of violating PC 11377. However, if you knew about the drug as a controlled substance but confused it with something else, you’re guilty of violating PC 11377. For instance, if you possessed crystal meth, but you confused it with cocaine, you’re guilty of violating PC 11377. The law only requires you to know that the substance you possessed was a controlled substance; you don't need to have known its meth.
You Possessed Meth Illegally
Meth is not a common prescription in California, although it can be lawfully possessed with a valid prescription. California's PC 11377 only makes it a crime to possess meth if it’s illegally possessed. Crystal meth doesn’t need to be pure for it to be illegal. In California, most of the meth sold on the street is impure. Therefore, possessing meth that has been cut or mixed with other drugs is still a violation of PC 11377.
Penalties for Meth Possession
It’s usually a misdemeanor under PC 11377 if you're found in possession of meth. You could face a sentence not exceeding one year in jail, or face a fine of up to $1,000. However, if on your criminal record, you have prior convictions for either:
- A sex offense that subjects you to register as a sex offender or
- Serious felonies such as vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and murder
You could face felony penalties amounting to jail time of 16 months, two, or three years. Before, violating PC 11377 was charged as a wobbler. The passing of the voter initiative Proposition 47 changed the charges from a felony to a misdemeanor. Therefore, you may petition the court to reduce your sentence to a misdemeanor, if you faced the charges of this crime before the approval and passage of voter Proposition 47.
If you possess meth weighing more than one kilogram, you could face enhanced jail time of three to fifteen years, even if the court doesn’t provide evidence that you intended to sell it. However, you could be eligible for drug diversion rather than a jail time under PC 11377 if:
- You possessed meth for personal use only.
- You're a first-or second-time non-violent offender.
Under California law, drug diversion is a sentencing alternative that allows a drug abuser to receive drug treatment rather than jail time. There are three drug diversion programs in California. They include:
- California drug court
- Penal Code 1000
- Proposition 36
There isn’t a guarantee for drug diversion if you plead guilty or after a conviction of possessing meth for sale under PC 11378 or selling it under PC 11379. However, you could be eligible for drug diversion if you plead guilty to PC 11377 simple possession as a plea bargain from one serious charge.
Defenses to Meth Possession
Meth is among the controlled substances under California law. The government priority is arrest and prosecution of dealers and users of meth. Therefore, their zeal of fighting the war on meth often leads to the conviction of innocent people. However, there are four major defenses you can apply to fight your charges. The defenses include:
Meth Belonged to Somebody Else
A thief may steal your bag as you look aside and replace it with a similar one. To make matters worse, the bag a thief leaves behind may have a bundle of trash and a gram of meth inside. You may only realize later that you took someone else’s bag without checking. Incidentally, the police arrest you on an unrelated charge, and upon inspection, they find a gram of meth in your possession. In this situation, you may be convicted of violating PC 11377.
Considering meth is always sold in gram increments, one gram of meth is enough to be used. However, without considering whether you knew of the presence of meth or whether you would have known its nature, you didn’t possess it willingly. Furthermore, considering that the bag wasn’t yours, you didn't have a right to control the bag's contents. Meth belonged to the thief, and you only secured control over it because of the thief’s trick. Therefore, your attorney could argue in this line and get you acquitted since meth wasn’t yours.
You Had a Valid Prescription for Meth
You may often lose concentration, and you decide to go to the hospital for a medical examination. Your doctor then decides to take a Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and an Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) test. After the test results are out, your doctor discovers that you have concentration problems. He or she prescribes meth used to treat ADHD. The doctor may also advise you regarding the effects and the nature of the drug. It then happens that you’re arrested on your way home, and upon search, the police find you with a bottle of meth and some pills. Later the police charge you of violating PC 11377.
In this case, you were arrested knowing that you possessed a controlled drug. You were also aware of the drug's character since the doctor had explained it to you. You also don’t need to ingest many pills for meth to take effect, and thus, you have possessed a usable quantity. However, you had a valid prescription for meth provided by your doctor, a qualified physician with authority to recommend the drugs. Therefore, you only need to present the evidence of your legal right to possess meth, and charges could be dismissed. You’re innocent because you had a valid prescription for meth.
The Statute Does Not Define Your Illegal Possession
You may have a job of making late-night prescription deliveries for a pharmacy if the patients need delivery service. As you make the deliveries, you may carry identification, prescription record, and proof of employment. Unfortunately, one day you forget to carry these important documents. Coincidentally, you’re arrested by the police on that fateful day, and upon searching your bag, meth is found. The police then request that you prove your right to meth possession. You then swear that you possessed meth to deliver at the request of the prescription holder. Later, the police decide to charge you for violating PC 11377.
The California law PC 11377 permits possession of meth if you’re under the prescription holder's direction. The Statute also allows possessing meth, if you intend to deliver the drug to the prescription holder for its prescribed use. The two elements must be present for your defense to be allowed by the court. If the two elements are evident, you could be acquitted from the charges. This is because you were only in possession of the meth to deliver to another, which was your job. Under the Statute's exception, these are the only elements needed to plead your innocence. You could be acquitted because the Statute doesn’t define what you did as illegal possession.
You’re a Victim of Illegal Search
The police may arrest you for driving under the influence of meth. However, the officers later decide to look for more evidence. They may go to your house where you live alone, forcing you to open and search without a warrant. Unfortunately, they manage to find a gram of meth. The officers then go ahead and charge you of violating PC 11377. Furthermore, they claim that since the drug found was an inevitable discovery, they didn’t require a search warrant to enter your house.
In this scenario, your attorney may argue against several forms of police misconduct. First, the police didn’t require proof beyond what they already had to charge you with driving under meth influence. Therefore, they had no reason to be in your house, and it’s misconduct.
Secondly, they searched your house without a warrant, which is against California law. It’s wrong because you live in the house alone, and no housemate could destroy the evidence. There was also no threat of harming the police, which could have justified the search without a warrant. There was also nothing inevitable about finding meth in your house, which would have otherwise permitted admitting meth to be used as proof against you without a warrant. With these convincing arguments from your attorney, you could be acquitted because you’re a victim of an illegal search.
There are several crimes related to California’s PC 11377 possession of meth. They include:
Possession of Meth for Sale PC 11378
It’s a felony under California PC 11378 to possess meth with the aim of selling. Since attempted or actual sale or transportation of meth is prohibited, proving PC 11378 can be difficult. If you’re found guilty of possessing meth for sale, you could face 16 months, two, or three years in county jail. Additionally, you could also face a fine of up to $10,000.
Compared to PC 11377, where you’re eligible for a California drug diversion program, violating PC 11378 could lead to mandatory jail time. On the other hand, you could also obtain drug treatment if your attorney negotiates a plea deal to simple possession PC 11377.
Selling or Transporting Meth PC 11379
Under California’s PC 11379, it’s a felony when you:
- Give meth to another person
- Administer meth to someone else
- Transport crystal meth with the intention of selling
- Agree to sell or sell meth in exchange for services, money, or something else of value
If you’re convicted under PC 11379, you could face a jail sentence of two, three, or four years. You could also face a fine of up to $10,000. The sentence could be enhanced to three, six, or nine years in jail if you transport meth across more than two counties.
Possession of Illegal Substances PC 11350
California’s PC 11350 prohibits the possession of a variety of controlled substances. These substances include LSD, Heroin, Peyote, Cocaine, and prescription opioids such as hydrocodone and codeine. It’s a misdemeanor under PC 11350 if you're found in possession of meth. It’s also a felony under Proposition 47 of the same code if you had previously faced the charges on sex crimes or other serious felonies.
Possession of Illegal Substances for Sale PC 11351
Like PC 11378 possession of meth for sale, PC 11351 is the counterpart that also prohibits possession of meth and other controlled substances for sale. This code prohibits possession and sale of prescription opioids, heroin, hallucinogens, and cocaine, among others. It’s a felony under California law if you're found guilty of violating PC 11351. It's also a more serious crime compared to a violation of PC 11378. Therefore, you could face a jail sentence of two, three, or four years, if you’re found guilty of violating PC 11351. You could also face a hefty fine of $10,000.
Selling or Transporting Controlled Substances PC 11352
PC 11352 is a counterpart of PC 11379 that prohibits selling or transporting controlled substances. However, PC 11352 applies to several controlled substances. It’s a more serious crime if you're found guilty of violating PC 11352. You could face a sentence of three, four, or five years in county jail, or face a fine of up to $10,000 maximum. If you move the drugs across more than two counties, you could face a jail sentence of three, six, or nine years.
Driving Under the Influence of Meth PC 23152(f)
The prosecutor may charge you for violating PC 23152(f) if you’re found driving under meth influence. A typical first crime of violating PC 23152(f) could lead you to the following penalties:
- A sentence of up to one year in a county jail
- A three-month minimum drug education class
- The court could impose restrictions on your driving license for six months minimum.
- A fine of $390 maximum before penalty assessments
However, under California law, you may face simultaneous charges of violating PC 11377 possession of meth and PC 23152(f) driving under meth influence.
Being Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance PC 11550
Apart from meth possession, you may face additional charges for violating PC 11550. The drugs prohibited under this code are those controlled substances covered by PC 11377, such as PCP, and GHB. It’s a misdemeanor under PC 11550 if you're found in possession of these drugs. Furthermore, you could face a sentence not exceeding one year in the county jail. On the other hand, you may also participate in a drug diversion program rather than serve jail time.
Manufacturing a Controlled Substance PC 11379.6
It’s a felony under PC 11379.6 to produce, process, manufacture, derive, or compound unlawful substance. In California, meth is among the few major controlled substances derived from local ingredients and processed in hidden meth labs. Under this Statute, a good number of penalties only apply to meth manufacturing. Simple possession of meth PC 11377 is often charged along with this crime. If you’re convicted for violating PC 11379.6, you could face three, five, or seven years of jail time. You may also face a fine of up to $50,000.
Possession of Ingredients for the Manufacture of Meth PC 11383.5
It’s a felony under PC 11383.5 if you're found in possession of ingredients for meth manufacturing. Unlike simple possession of meth PC 11377, violating PC 11383.5 is a more serious crime. If you’re found in possession of certain ingredients, or a combination of the ingredients with the intention of using them to manufacture meth, you could be convicted. You could face jail time of two, four, or six years.
Find a Defense Attorney Near Me
Possession of meth is a severe crime in California, and the consequences could have far-reaching effects on your life. It’s therefore imperative to get legal counsel and representation if you’re facing meth possession charges. Your attorney will analyze the facts of your case and plan a defense strategy that will help you obtain the best possible outcome. At Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm, we can hold your hand and assist you in creating a convincing defense to fight your charges. Contact us at 714-740-7848 and talk to one of our criminal defense attorneys.