California Health and Safety Code 11379.6(a) HS "Possession of Methamphetamine" is a "wobbler meaning it may be filed as either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the circumstances. A person with prior convictions for a crime that requires registration as a sex offender, a serious or violent felony may face felony possession of methamphetamine. HS 11377 is eligible for drug diversion programs under proposition 36 and Penal Code 1000.
What Must Be Proven in a Possession of Methamphetamine Case?
HS 11377 "Possession of Methamphetamine" requires the following to be proven:
- the defendant exercised control over a controlled substance;
- the defendant knew of its presence;
- the defendant knew its nature as a controlled substance;
- the substance was in a usable quantity.
If charged as a felony the following must also be proven:
- the defendant has one or more prior convictions for an offense specified under PC 667(e)(2)(c); or
- the defendant has one or more prior convictions requiring registration pursuant to PC 290(c).
In the United States justice system, a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. The prosecutor has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was in possession of methamphetamine.
What are the penalties for a Possession of Methamphetamine?
As a misdemeanor, HS 11377 has a maximum fine of up to $2,000 and/or up to 1 year in county jail.
As a felony, HS 11377 has a maximum fine of up to $10,000 and/or up to 3 years in State Prison.
HS 11377 requires life time registration as a drug offender for the felony offense only.
HS 11377 is eligible for drug diversion programs if the defendant qualifies. These programs include:
- Prop 36
- Drug Court
- California Penal Code 1000 PC - Deferred Entry of Judgment
Completion of a diversion program will result in the case dismissed.
What are the defenses to Possession of Methamphetamine?
The police incorrectly identified the substance
The prosecution must prove the substance is methamphetamine. This requires the police to properly obtain and store the substance to prevent contamination or degradation of the substance prior to testing. Mistakes are often made in transporting and storage of substances that can lead to false positives in the lab. The lab must also adhere to strict guidelines on how to perform testing on the substance to ensure that the results are accurate. If the lab equipment is not properly maintained or calibrated, false positives are very likely.
The defendant did not have control over the controlled substance
If the controlled substance was not under the actual or constructive control of the defendant than he or she is not guilty of possession of a controlled substance. This includes situations where another person has possession or the controlled substance was found in an area owned or in the control of another.
The defendant had temporary possession to destroy or dispose of Controlled Substance
If the defendant:
- only had temporary possession for the purpose of destroying or disposing of the controlled substance to terminate unlawful possession by another; and
- the possession was not prevent seizure by law enforcement.
The defendant did not know it was a controlled substance
The defendant must know that he or she is in possession of a controlled substance. A defendant that borrowed a car or jacket for another and is later searched by police is not guilty of possession of controlled substance if they were unaware of the drugs.
Bottom line, you need an experienced attorney who is willing to walk you through the entire process, evaluate your case effectively for weaknesses and exploit the issues in your case to achieve the best results. The Law Offices of Steven McNicholl has that experience and will get you through your case in the best shape possible.