Home · Blog · Drug Crimes : Possession

California Possession of a Controlled Substance Attorney


Possession of controlled substances is illegal in California.  Controlled substances can include illegal drugs as well as prescription drugs that are possessed illegally (possessed without a prescription).  The most common controlled substances include marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy  and prescription drugs like OxyContin (oxycodone), Xanax (alprazolam) and Vicodin (hydrocodone).  The penalties vary for different drug possessions.  For example, cocaine and heroin are treated more harshly than methamphetamine or ecstasy.

Possession of cocaine or heroin violates Health and Safety Code section 11350, a felony.  If a person is sent to prison, then the minimum punishment is 16 months state prison and the maximum punishment is 3 years state prison.  On the other hand, possession of methamphetamine or ecstasy (MDMA) violates Health and Safety Code section 11377, a wobbler.   If charged as a felony, the crime carries the same sentencing range as Health and Safety Code 11350, but if charged as a misdemeanor, then the maximum punishment is only one year county jail.


If a person is charged with possession of a controlled substance, then an experienced attorney can get you into a drug program in lieu of jail, under certain circumstances.  These circumstances include what other crimes you’re being charged with, your prior criminal record and your prior drug program record.

The penalties for possession crimes increase dramatically if you have a firearm in your possession at the time.  Pursuant to Health and Safety Code section 11370.1(a), if you possess cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine while armed with a loaded, operable firearm, then you are guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years.  As used in this subdivision, “armed with” means having available for immediate offensive or defensive use.  You are not eligible for diversion through Penal Code section 1000, if you are guilty of this offense.

Other Consequences

Not only can a drug possession conviction lead to criminal penalties, but it can also have drastic employment, licensing and immigration consequences.  Having a drug possession conviction can prevent a person from finding a job or lead to a person being fired from their current job.  Furthermore, many professions that require licensing from a state board, such as doctors, nurses, lawyers, contractors, teachers, real estate agents and stock brokers, all require background checks.  A professional who has drug possession conviction on their record risks losing their professional license, or never acquiring it in the first place.  Perhaps the most severe impact of a possession of a controlled substance conviction involves immigration consequences.  Non-citizens who are permanent residents (green card holders) or temporary visitors, with a student visa or work visa, can be denied admission, denied naturalization or even deported, with any type of drug-related conviction on their record.   In fact, drug-related convictions are considered one of the worst convictions for immigration consequences.

The Right Lawyer

Choosing the right criminal defense lawyer will be the most important decision someone can make when facing a charge for possession of a controlled substance.  Many people who face drug possession charges are good people who made a mistake or exercised poor judgment.  There are also some people who have been wrongfully accused of possession of a controlled substance, based on a misunderstanding or false evidence.  You need an attorney who will listen to your side of the story carefully, who will evaluate the evidence thoroughly, who will negotiate with the judge and the District Attorney’s office skillfully, and who will fight in trial aggressively.  You need an attorney like Fred Thiagarajah.

As a former Deputy District Attorney, Fred Thiagarajah has the negotiating skills and trial experience necessary to get the best results for his clients.  As a prosecutor, Fred Thiagarajah handled thousands of drug-related cases.  He now uses his specialized knowledge of possession of a controlled substance cases to get the best possible outcomes for his clients.   For an example of his work, please see his case results and read his client testimonials.  With offices in Newport Beach, Long Beach, Murrieta, Riverside and Rancho Cucamonga, Fred Thiagarajah has criminal defense experience in Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.

Fred Thiagarajah – The Right Lawyer.  The Right Result. 

Make The Right Choice.


© 2016 FRED THIAGARAJAH - All rights reserved.

Website Designed by OCOnlineMarketing