What Is The Penalty Range For Drug Convictions and How Are They Determined?

There are countless ways that a judge could set penalties for a drug charge conviction. There are also many variables that contribute to the final penalties that a convicted individual can receive. Let’s take a look at some of the potential penalties for drug convictions.

Misdemeanor Charge Penalties

If an individual is found to be in violation of California Health and Safety Code 11350(a) HS, they can find themselves with a misdemeanor on their criminal record. For this conviction, judges could sentence the individual to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $1000. This is for individuals accused of possession for personal use, not with the intent to sell.

Some examples of these charges include: carrying a small amount of cocaine on your person to a concert; prescription drugs found in your glove compartment in your car, or even just walking through a public space with an illicit drug in your pocket.

These situations are considered ‘simple’ possession and are seen as less serious in the courts. Therefore the penalties are minimal in comparison to a felony conviction. This can change if it is a second or third offense.

However, if you are a first-time offender, you can complete a PC 1000 drug diversion program. This Penal Code 1000PC is a program for first-time offenders with simple possession to get help through treatment and instructional classes in lieu of jail time. It is part of California’s pretrial diversion program for drug crimes.

Four conditions are required for a defendant to be eligible for the drug diversion program:

·         There can be no violence or threatened violence attached to the charges.

·         There cannot be any evidence of any other type of drug crime such as intent to sell.

·         The defendant can only qualify if they haven’t been convicted of a non-PC 1000 eligible drug crime within the last five years.

·         There can be no felonies on the criminal record for the last five years.

If any of these four conditions are not met, the charges cannot be considered ‘simple possession’ and the defendant will not be able to enter the drug diversion program. However, if the individual completes the program, they can try to get the charge expunged in the future.

Penalties of a Felony Drug Charge

When an individual is convicted of a felony drug charge, the penalties are much greater. Longer jail times will come with extended probation times upon release. The probation restrictions are often numerous and strict. In addition to long sentences, there are hefty fines of up to $100,000. If the individual is in the process of immigrating, there are certain consequences such as deportation. Gun rights are also affected by a felony drug charge, either entirely stripped of heavy restrictions.

Get an Attorney

Regardless of the type of charge an individual is facing, a good defense attorney is the best asset when fighting drug charges. A lawyer will know how to work with the prosecution and judge to lessen or diminish your penalties if convicted. You won’t regret spending money on a good lawyer in these situations.


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