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How Drug Quantities Affect Your Charges

By Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney on May 30, 2023

If you are arrested for possession of a controlled substance, the quantity of the drug can affect the potential penalties you face in a conviction. While possessing a small amount of certain substances may be a misdemeanor offense, having a larger quantity in your possession can elevate the charge to a felony. After any drug arrest, it is in your best interests to consult with an experienced Los Angeles drug crime defense attorney.

What Are the Different Types of Drug Charges in California?

The charges you could be facing with a drug arrest can depend on several factors, including the type of drug, the amount involved, and alleged criminal activity. Common drug charges in California include:

  • Possession of a controlled substance: Under the law, you have possession of a drug if you have control over it. You do not actually have to be holding it. It could be in your car trunk, a locker, a storage unit, or a closet in your home. It has to be a usable amount of the controlled substance, not just traces or debris.
  • Possession for sale: Possession of a controlled substance with the intent to sell it is a more serious offense than simple possession. You could face these charges if the police discovered large quantities of a controlled substance, packaging materials, and scales, large amounts of cash, and evidence of drug transactions.
  • Sales or distribution of a controlled substance: Selling, administering, transporting, or importing drugs for sale is a felony offense in California. Potential penalties include a jail sentence of three to nine years and a fine of up to $20,000. Distributing drugs across state lines or national borders is a federal crime that carries five years to life in prison and $5 million to $20 million in fines.

How Can Drug Quantities Affect Criminal Charges in California?

The quantity of a controlled substance allegedly found in your possession can affect the charges and potential penalties in several ways. The quantity of drugs is typically the determining factor in whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. Larger amounts of drugs can lead to more serious charges and more severe penalties in fines and prison time.

What Are Some Examples of Drug Charges With Various Quantities?

Depending on the drug, the quantity involved could affect your charges. For example, possession of up to an ounce of marijuana (28.5 grams) for personal use is legal in California for persons ages 21 and older. Possession of any quantity greater than 28.5 grams is a misdemeanor offense. Selling any amount of hard drugs, such as cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine, is punishable by up to four or five years in prison. The maximum sentence is increased by three years for distribution of more than a kilogram, and it continues to increase with larger drug quantities.

What Are the Legal Defense Against Drug Crime Charges?

Our skilled Southern California criminal defense lawyers can raise every defense against the charges that apply to your case. Common defenses against drug crime charges include:

  • Challenging the legality of the search and seizure that led to the arrest
  • Questioning the accuracy of the drug quantity measurements or the crime lab analysis
  • Arguing that the drugs did not belong to you, or you were not aware of their presence
  • Demanding that the prosecution physically produce the actual drugs in question, which may be missing or lost. (If the drugs cannot be produced, there is no proof they ever existed.)

Call Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP at (213) 688-0460 for skilled criminal defense against drug charges. We have been fighting for the rights of our clients since 1994 and have a history of success in criminal court.

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Posted in: Drug Crimes