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Possession of a Controlled Substance

Posted by Michael Geller | Oct 01, 2022 | 0 Comments

According to California Health & Safety Code Section 11350(a), possessing a controlled substance is considered a misdemeanor criminal offense in the Golden State. If convicted of a misdemeanor offense, you could potentially be sentenced to serve up to 364 days in a county jail. In addition, you could be placed on probation or parole while also being subjected to random drug testing and searches by members of law enforcement. Nevertheless, being charged with possession of a controlled substance is not the same as being found guilty in a court of law. You have Constitutional rights that deserve protection, which include contesting criminal charges and only being convicted beyond a reasonable doubt.

One of the best ways to fight criminal charges for allegedly possessing a controlled substance in California is to retain the services of a skilled and experienced criminal defense lawyer in the San Francisco Bay Area. When you have a top-notch criminal defense attorney on your side, they can examine the facts of your case and determine whether there is a viable defense that can be raised to contest the charges.

Defenses To a Charge of Possession of A Controlled Substance

There are numerous defenses that a San Francisco drug possession defense attorney can raise on your behalf, including:

  • Lack of Control or Possession – To convict someone of possession of a controlled substance in California, the prosecution is required to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you had possession or control over the drug or narcotic. Under state law, possession can be “actual” or “constructive.” Actual possession means the substance was found on your person. Constructive possession means the substance was found in an area over which you exercise control (e.g., your home or vehicle). When you have an effective criminal defense lawyer on your side, they can potentially argue that you did not have the requisite possession or control of the substance to obtain a conviction against you.
  • Momentary Possession – Momentary possession of a controlled substance for an otherwise lawful purpose could potentially be a defense to charges of possessing a controlled substance. In order to successfully assert this defense, there needs to be evidence indicating you (1) possessed the controlled substance for only a momentary or transitory period, (2) you possessed the controlled substance in order to abandon, dispose of, or destroy and, (3) you had no intention to prevent law enforcement officials from securing the controlled substance.
  • Lack of Knowledge - The prosecution generally needs to present evidence indicating that you had knowledge of the nature or character of the drug as a controlled substance. As a result, if you lacked knowledge concerning the presence of the drug in your possession or you thought that it was something else entirely and not a controlled substance, then you cannot be convicted for possession of the controlled substance.
  • Valid Prescription - If you have a valid, written prescription from a physician, dentist, podiatrist, or veterinarian licensed to practice in California, then you cannot be convicted of possession of a controlled substance. The burden of proving that you did not have a valid prescription rest on the prosecution, and they are required to prove this particular element beyond a reasonable doubt.

Schedule a Confidential Assessment of What Defenses Could Potentially Be Used to Fight the Charges in Your Case

Each of the above-described defenses could potentially be used in your favor to contest the criminal charges filed against you. Of course, the use of any defense will depend on the specific facts of your individual case. To learn more, take action today and contact The Geller Firm to schedule a confidential case evaluation.

About the Author

Michael Geller

Michael Geller grew up in San Francisco, CA. He attended the University of Southern California for his undergraduate studies, the City University of New York for his medical training, and Santa Clara University School of Law for his legal education.


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