Posted on March 11, 2017

Possession of Methamphetamine | Health & Safety Code 11377 HS

A controlled substance is an illicit drug the state or federal government has elected to regulate.  Common forms of substances include methamphetamine, heroin, ecstasy, cocaine, and prescription medication.  The crime of possession of a controlled substance is charged under Health & Safety Code 11377 hs prohibiting someone knowingly possessing methamphetamine.

Possession versus Sales

The difference between simple possession and possession with the intent to sell ordinarily depends on several factors.  Law Enforcement label these factors as “indicia” of sales. In many instances, the government overcharges someone with felony sales charges when the appropriate charge is simple possession.  Some indicia of sales are as follows:

  • Quantity of Substance beyond personal use
  • Large sums of money associated with sales
  • Scales, pay-owe sheets, small individual baggies
  • Informants or people who allegedly witnessed a prior sale
  • An incriminating statement from a suspect admitting to selling the substance(s).

Elements

In California, to prove someone is guilty of possessing a controlled substance under HS 11377, the government must prove the following:

  1. You were in possession of a controlled substance;
  1. You knew of the substances presence and character;
  1. The controlled substance was a useable amount.

Defenses to HS 11377

  • Possession: The government may prove two types of possession: constructive and/or actual. Actual possession means the substance was found on your person whereas constructive possession means you had a right to exercise control the substance.  Constructive possession is often the disputed element for this offense because it’s vaguely written and open for interpretation.  Whether someone had a right to exercise control is analyzed on a case-by-case basis.
  • Knowledge: There’s two requirements for knowledge: you knew of the substances character and presence. If their part is not met, then the government cannot prove their case.  For instance, you may be in possession of an illicit drug but had no knowledge of its presence.  Moreover, someone could have left it in your car.
  • Unlawful Search: Often, drugs are discovered after law enforcement executes a search warrant, or vehicle searches, or home searches without a warrant. Any search by law enforcement must be carefully reviewed for any constitutional technicalities.  If the court deems the search unconstitutional, then the substance(s) will be ordered suppressed.  Consequently, the government cannot move forward with their case.
  • Mere Presence: Mere presence alone will not suffice for a conviction. Moreover, there must be additional evidence connecting you to the substance.  Additional evidence may be an admission or eye-witness.

Punishment & Sentencing

CA Health & Safety Code 11377 is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one (1) year in the county jail and a fine not exceeding $1,000.  Other consequences include:

  • Registering with law enforcement as a narcotics offender
  • Adversely affecting someone holding a professional license
  • May lead to deportation proceedings for Non-U.S. citizens

Ordinarily, a defendant is eligible to participate in deferred entry judgement (also known as “DEJ”) where adjudication of the case is suspended allowing a defendant to complete drug treatment classes.  If successful, the court will dismiss the case.

Contact Us to Schedule a Free Consultation

There’s no question that drug crimes are complex requiring an experienced and skilled Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney to adequately defend your rights.  If you’ve been arrested or cited for HS 11377, then contact the Law Offices of John D. Rogers to schedule your free consultation.  Our office will explore all your available options and defenses.  We’ve saved clients thousands of dollars in fines and fees and saved many professional licenses.

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