Possession of Drugs for Personal Use

Possession of drugs for personal use in California is a criminal offense. The gravity of the offense (whether it will be charged as a felony or misdemeanor) depends on the type of drug you are accused of having possessed. Being in possession of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, or designer drugs will typically result felony charges.

Marijuana (cannabis) possession will usually incur misdemeanor charges.

Robert Ernenwein, a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer, has more than 30 years of experience defending persons accused of drug possession. Mr. Ernenwein is a former Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney and is Certified as a Criminal Law Specialist by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization. Robert Ernenwein has been named a “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine and has appeared as a legal analyst on multiple cable news programs, including Fox News. His experience and capabilities are unmatched and give him the tools needed to successfully challenge drug possession charges.

What does the prosecutor have to show in order to prove that I am guilty of possession?

The prosecutor must show that:

  1. you unlawfully possessed drugs;
  2. you knew of their presence;
  3. you knew that what you possessed was a drug or drugs;
  4. and you possessed the drug in a usable amount.

What if I was arrested for possession but the police found no drugs on my person?

The dangerous thing about possession is that you don’t even have to be found with drugs on your person at the time of arrest. It is sufficient that the drugs be found in your home, car, etc. You can be charged with “constructive possession,” which typically occurs where you are driving and one of the occupants is carrying drugs, either on himself or in a compartment of the vehicle, i.e., glove box. Even though you were not personally carrying the contraband or did not place it in your vehicle, the law presumes that you had control of the drug so long as you had knowledge and the ability to gain access to it.

What can your lawyers do to have these charges reduced or dismissed?

Depending on the facts and circumstances of your case, our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers may be able to argue that the amount of drugs you are alleged to have possessed was not a “usable amount.” To be convicted of this crime, you must possess more than useless traces or debris of the substance.

If the substance was found in your place of residence but you did not control over it or have the right to control it, we may successfully argue that you did not technically “possess” it. Even if you knew of it’s presence, you cannot be convicted if you did not possess it either personally or through another person.

If you are charged with unlawfully possessing prescription narcotics, we may able to have charges dismissed upon proof of a valid prescription.

We may also be able to obtain a dismissal of your case through a pre-trial motion arguing the constitutionality of the search or seizure that led to your arrest and charge for possession. If the police did not have a search warrant to enter your home or to search your car, and did not have a valid “exception” to the requirement that they must search you after obtaining a warrant, we may be able to have the evidence against you suppressed. If the evidence is suppressed, the prosecutor may not have enough evidence to go forward with a trial and your case may be dismissed.

If you possessed the drugs only for a momentary or transitory period, to abandon, dispose or destroy the drugs, and you did not intend to prevent police from getting hold of the drugs, we can have your charges dismissed altogether.

Under the “Deferred Entry of Judgment” program under Penal Code 1000, you would agree to enter a guilty plea to the charge of possession. However, upon successful completion of the terms and conditions of PC 1000, the court will dismiss the charges and your guilty plea will be withdrawn, resulting in no conviction on your record.

There are a host of issues that our team can evaluate based on our analysis of the police reports, witness statements and other evidence on file. Based on our findings, we may be able to successfully thwart a criminal prosecution in court, or otherwise weaken the case against you.

Call us immediately at 310-375-5858 for your free consultation.