If the police find a small amount of methamphetamines in your possession, you may face criminal charges. However, if you are found in possession of larger quantities of methamphetamines, packaged meth to sell, or other signs that the drugs are intended for distribution, you may face felony drug charges.
Controlled Substances Act
Under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act (CSA), drugs are categorized based on their medical uses, the potential for abuse, and safety level. Methamphetamines are classified as schedule II drugs. Schedule II drugs are considered to have a high potential for abuse as well as a currently accepted medical value. Other schedule II drugs include Percocet, fentanyl, morphine, and OxyContin.
Methamphetamine Possession Under Health and Safety Code 11377
Under California's Health & Safety Code 11377, it is a misdemeanor to possess any controlled substance without a valid prescription. This includes possession of methamphetamines. The penalties for simple possession include up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.
In many cases, a first-time offense for drug possession will be eligible for a drug diversion program. Under California Penal Code 1000, the deferred entry of judgment program allows many low-level, nonviolent drug offenders to avoid jail time through participating in a drug diversion program. This includes individuals charged with simple possession of methamphetamines.
Eligible individuals have their criminal proceeding deferred while the defendant enrolls in and completes a court-approved drug treatment program. Upon successful completion of the program, the judge may dismiss the charges and the individual can avoid a criminal record. However, if the individual does not complete the program, they may face misdemeanor criminal charges.
Possession with Intent to Sell
Possession of methamphetamines can result in felony drug charges if there is evidence the individual intended to sell the drugs. The penalties for possession with intent to sell depend on a number of factors, including the amount of meth in your possession, criminal history, and whether any other criminal activity may have been taking place.
The prosecutor does not have to prove that you were actually selling methamphetamines to charge you with possession with intent to sell. Instead, they can use evidence that shows signs of drug sales. This includes:
- Larger quantities of meth, more than intended for personal use,
- Multiple packages of drugs,
- Packing materials such as baggies,
- Measuring equipment,
- Other materials to cut with the meth,
- Small denominations of cash,
- Possession of guns, or
- Frequent visitors to a location.
Penalties for Meth Possession with Intent to Sell in California
Under California Health and Safety Code 11378, it is a felony to possess methamphetamines with the intent to sell. The penalties for selling methamphetamine depends on the quantity of meth involved, individual's criminal history, and whether any other criminal activity was taking place. Penalties can include up to 3 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Multiple drug sales could result in multiple drug charges which could increase the criminal penalties.
In addition to the underlying drug possession charges, additional criminal charges may apply, depending on the situation. If drug possession involved gang activity, additional charges may include conspiracy, drug manufacture, and weapons charges.
Unlike simple methamphetamine possession charges, possession of meth with intent to sell may not be eligible for a diversion program. Even after release from prison, the conditions of parole may require an individual to check in with their parole officer, avoid contact with certain individuals, require drug testing, and submit to random searches. A felony conviction may also impact your rights to own a gun and make it more difficult to find a job.
Transportation or Sale of Methamphetamines
Under California Health and Safety Code 11379, the transportation or sale of methamphetamines is a felony offense. Penalties for transport or sale of meth include up to 4 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If transportation involved moving methamphetamines across non-contiguous counties, the penalties can increase to up to 9 years in prison.
Unlike possession with intent to sell, a conviction for sale of methamphetamines generally requires evidence of an actual sale. This includes distributing meth for money, property, or other services.
The police often use informants or undercover officers to provide information to show that drug sales were taking place. This includes having an undercover officer go to an individual and buy drugs, which may be recorded or videotaped for evidence. Informants may provide information that a location is used to sell drugs, or they bought drugs from a certain individual. The police may then use this information to obtain a search warrant to search an individual or location for evidence of drugs.
Defenses to Drug Possession Charges
There are a number of possible defenses to meth possession with intent to sell charges. This includes:
- The drugs were not in your possession
- The drugs were for personal use
- The meth belonged to someone else
Some methamphetamine possession cases involve police misconduct, such as unlawful search or seizure. If the police do not have probable cause to arrest an individual, do not have consent to a search, or do not have a search warrant, they may be violating an individual's constitutional rights by conducting an unlawful search. Under the U.S. Constitution, every person has the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. If the police violate your rights, the evidence gathered against you may be suppressed in court.
Attorney for East Bay Methamphetamine Charges
Lynn Gorelick has more than 30 years of criminal defense experience defending her clients from drug possession and drug sales charges. She understands how to approach the individual facts of each case for the greatest chance of success, keeping her clients out of jail and maintaining a clean record. Whether you are arrested in Oakland, Richmond or anywhere else in Contra Costa or Alameda Counties, contact Lynn Gorelick understands you do not have to plead guilty just because you were arrested.