California categorizes drug-related crimes as either possession or possession with intent to sell. Conviction for either of these crimes may carry jail time, fines and other penalties depending on the substance, the amount and other circumstances in your case.

If you face drug charges in California, familiarize yourself with the potential penalties and take steps to protect your interests.

Possession for personal use

 After the state passed Proposition 47 in 2014, the court charges possession of most controlled substances for personal use as misdemeanor offenses. These crimes carry up to one year in jail, up to $1,000 in fines and/or community service. The only exception is heroin possession, which the court can charge as either a misdemeanor or a felony with up to three years in prison.

Possession for sale

 Sale of controlled substances carries these felony penalties in California:

  • Crack cocaine: Up to five years in state prison
  • Heroin: Up to four years in state prison
  • MDMA: Up to four years in state prison
  • Methamphetamine: Up to five years in state prison
  • Powder cocaine: Up to four years in state prison

The state may charge possession of ketamine for sale as either a misdemeanor with the personal use penalties described above or a felony with up to three years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Cultivation and manufacturing

 Defendants face increase penalties for cultivation and manufacturing of controlled substances. This is a felony crime carrying up to seven years in state prison and a fine of up to $50,000, with longer sentences and higher fines possible for those who have a previous criminal record. Possession of the chemicals used to make drugs such as methamphetamine and PCP carries up to six years in state prison.

Considering the stringent penalties, a solid legal defense is essential for those facing drug charges in California. Understanding these consequences can help you create a plan to move forward.