According to California laws, it is a severe offense to possess meth. Methamphetamine is also called ice, shard, glass, or tina. You might find it challenging to have your name cleared from the justice system after being convicted of a crime.

Note that the record in your criminal history can bring many challenges into your life, including denying you your right to obtain a new job. With your future at stake, you must seek legal help from a drug crime attorney. At Michele Ferroni Pasadena Criminal Attorney Law Firm, we bring the highest caliber of experience and expertise in methamphetamine possession criminal defense.

We start by listening to your case, thinking about it, and gathering enough evidence to help us figure out the best way to defend you. Therefore, we can work with you anytime if you seek legal help in PAsadena.

Understanding California PC 11377

As per California PC 11377, possession of methamphetamine can occur in various forms. These ways might include actual, constructive, and joint possession, as discussed below:

Actual possession means physically possessing the alleged drug. The drug can either be in your bag or your pocket. It means you have immediate control over the drug. For example, if the police find you holding or touching meth, you possess the drug.

The drug is also in your possession if the police find it in something you carry, like a backpack, suitcase, or purse. When police find methamphetamine on you, you are usually found to own it.

Occasionally, law enforcement officers could use circumstantial evidence to prove possession. For example, you might decide to swallow, flush, or throw the drug to skip an arrest. Under this scenario, the prosecution team could still prove actual possession.

The police officers might also see you purchase the substance. Therefore, the officers might decide to approach and investigate the case. After seeing the law enforcement officers approach, you might swallow the drug to avoid an arrest. In this case, you are still in actual possession of the drug.

Constructive possession means you control the place where law enforcement officers discover the drug. It can be in your vehicle. You do not have to be in complete control of the drug for you to face conviction. You could also have control over the drug through an agent.

Again, you might exercise indirect control over the drug when you hide it in a public place or under your desk. You are in constructive possession of the drug when you send someone to purchase it on your behalf. When you ask someone to hold the drug, you are also in constructive possession. 

Note that you do not need to remain in the exact location with the drug to be in constructive possession. It is enough when you have control over the drug, regardless of the distance between you and the substance. Do you knowingly possess methamphetamine when you hide the substance in public? Yes, you still have control over the drug.

Joint possession means you share the drug with another person. It could either be a constructive or actual possession. Possession of methamphetamine under the three forms of possession could lead to charges for possession of meth.

Therefore, when you find yourself under any of the three forms of possession, you want to seek legal help from your attorney. The attorney will help determine what to do next. The attorney will offer you the best legal advice you require.

The Elements of Possession of Methamphetamine in California

California Penal Code 11377 says that having methamphetamine without a prescription is illegal. So, the prosecutor has to prove every part of the crime before you can be found guilty. The following are the critical elements of the unlawful possession of methamphetamine in California:

Usable Amount

If law enforcement officers arrest you with traces of meth, you might not face charges for the crime. The amount must meet the usable amount required by the law. The word "enough" does not necessarily mean the quantity that makes you feel high after taking the drug; it only refers to the usable quantity.

The requirement for the amount of the drug can protect you from facing a conviction. For example, the police can only arrest and charge you with possession of methamphetamine when the quantity meets the requirements.

You Illegally Possessed the Substance

In California, methamphetamine is not a common prescription drug. However, you can possess it with a lawful prescription. Possession of methamphetamine is only a crime when obtained illegally. The substance can either be pure or impure for it to be unlawful. It is also a crime when you mix the substance with another drug.

You Knew the Substance Under Your Possession is Methamphetamine

Do you know someone can leave methamphetamine in your vehicle without your knowledge? If this is your case, you face charges for violating PC 11377. You are not guilty of the crime when you possess the substance unknowingly.

However, you are guilty of violating PC 11377 when you are aware of the substance but confuse the drug with something else. For example, you are guilty of violating PC 11377 when you confuse methamphetamine with cocaine. The law in California only requires you to know whether the substance you possess is controlled.

Simple Possession of Methamphetamine vs. Possession for Sale

After the police arrest you for having methamphetamine, they determine if you had it to use or sell. PC 11377 deals with the possession of methamphetamine for personal use.

Possession of methamphetamine for personal use is a less severe offense than possessing the drug for sale. Law enforcement officers can examine several things to determine if you had the controlled substance to sell or for personal use. These factors include:

The Amount of Methamphetamine

The amount of methamphetamine you had with you when you were arrested can help police figure out if you kept it for your personal use or to sell. If you have small amounts of methamphetamine, you can convince the court the substance was for personal use. On the other hand, if you have substantial amounts of methamphetamine, the police might think you have it for sale.

What You Say

Law enforcement officers can use what you say to determine whether you possess the substance for sale or personal use. For example, when law enforcement officers hear you say you sell methamphetamine, they might conclude that you have the substance for sale.

The Packaging

How you pack the methamphetamine can help police officers determine if you have it to sell or use yourself. For example, when you pack methamphetamine in bags, this could indicate you intend to sell it. A crystal of methamphetamine could alternatively show you how to use it. Also, several bags of methamphetamine could show you wanted to sell the substance.

Drug Paraphernalia

Having drug paraphernalia along with small or large amounts of methamphetamine could help police figure out if you had the drug for your personal use or to sell. In California, drug paraphernalia includes pipes, straws, and needles.

The law assumes that the substance is for personal use when you have drug paraphernalia with meth. So, if you are accused of having drug paraphernalia on you, you should talk to your criminal defense lawyer. The attorney will help you determine what to do next.

The Legal Penalties for Possessing Methamphetamine in California

When arrested for illegal possession of methamphetamine, you face a misdemeanor charge. Therefore, you face a sentence of up to 12 months. Alternatively, if you have a past criminal conviction for a sex crime or a severe felony like murder or vehicular manslaughter, you face a felony charge. The penalties for the felony charge include 16, 24, and 36 months in jail.

After the passing of Proposition 47, the court changed the crime from a felony to a misdemeanor. So, if you faced the charges before the approval of Prop 47, you can file a petition to have the court change your sentence to a misdemeanor charge.

When police find you with more than 1000 grams of meth, you could face a longer jail sentence of up to 15 years, even if there is no evidence that you planned to sell the drug. You might be eligible for a diversion program when:

  • You are a first-time offender.
  • You possess the drug for personal use.

According to the law, a drug diversion program is better than going to jail for a long time. In California, we have three types of diversion programs. They are:

  • Prop 36.
  • Penal code 1000.
  • California drug court.

Obtaining the drug diversion program is not easy if you are found guilty of having methamphetamine. Talk to your lawyer about your case to determine if you are eligible for the drug diversion program. If you are ineligible, the judge can try to convince the court to place you under the program instead of facing a jail term.

Defenses for Possession of Methamphetamine

Under California law, methamphetamine is one of the controlled substances. Both the state and federal governments focus on arresting and prosecuting the users and dealers of methamphetamine. The curiosity to arrest the methamphetamine dealers results in the conviction of innocent people.

However, the law allows detainees to represent themselves in court. With the aid of a criminal defense attorney, you can use the following arguments to refute the charges:

The Controlled Substance Belonged to the Another Person

The possibility exists that a thief will take your bag and replace it with another bag. The left bag could contain a significant amount of methamphetamine. Detecting that you are carrying someone else's bag might be too late. methamphetamine

By the way, the police discover the drug in the bag during their inspections when they arrive to arrest you. In this case, you might be charged with methamphetamine possession.

The bag was not yours, and you had no authority over what was inside. The thief's trick was the only reason you had control over the bag. To convince the court to throw out the case, you can do so with the assistance of a criminal defense lawyer.

You are a Victim of Unlawful Search

If you drive a car while high on methamphetamine, the police can pull you over and put you in jail. The arresting officers might even conduct more investigations and look for additional evidence. Also, they might visit your house and force you into an unwarranted search.

Unfortunately, the officers discovered several grams of meth. Therefore, the officers can proceed and charge you with possession of Methamphetamine. In this case, your criminal defense attorney can argue that you are a victim of police misconduct.

Since the law enforcement officers did not have a reason to search your home, it became police misconduct. It is against the law for police officers to invade and search your house without a warrant. Since you live in your house alone, no one can destroy the evidence.

Also, you did not threaten to harm the police, which could have resulted in the searches without a warrant. With strong evidence from your criminal defense lawyer, the court could throw out your case or lower the charges.

The Law Does Not Define Your Unlawful Possession

Your work might involve making late drug deliveries to a pharmacy when the patients require the drugs. When making the deliveries, you carry prescription records, identification, and also evidence of employment. One day you forget to carry the essential documents. The police arrest you, and while looking for you, they find a few grams of methamphetamine in your bag.

The law enforcement officers request that you explain what you know about possessing methamphetamine. You argue that you only possessed the prescription to deliver it to the holder. The officers claim you have violated the law and charge you with illegal possession.

Under California's Penal Code 11377, you can only have methamphetamine if you are following the instructions of a legal prescription holder. Also, the law lets you have the prescription if you give it to the person who is supposed to have it for a specific reason. Therefore, the two essential elements must always be present for the court to excuse you from the charges.

The court can acquit or dismiss the charges when the two essential elements are present. Ensure you work closely with a good criminal defense lawyer to help you convince the court to drop or reduce the charges.

Legal Prescription for the Meth

Sometimes you might lose concentration and then decide to visit your doctor for a medical examination. The medical expert then decided to conduct SAT and ADHD tests. After performing the tests, the doctor discovers you have concentration issues.

To treat ADHD, the doctor allows you to use methamphetamine. Your doctor might also discuss the drug's nature and potential effects. On your way home, the law enforcement officers arrest you and discover the drug in your bag.

So, they decide to arrest you and lay charges for methamphetamine possession. In this case, the police officers arrested you, knowing you had the drug. Again, as the doctor talked about the drug, you understood what it was and what it could do.

You also had a prescription from your doctor recommending you use the drug to treat ADHD. You only need to present evidence to the court about the legal possession of the drug. By doing so, the court considers you innocent and dismisses the charges.

Crimes Charged Alongside Possession of Methamphetamine in California

Many crimes in California are more similar to the possession of Methamphetamine. The crimes have elements but have different penalties. The following are the legal crimes charged alongside possession of methamphetamine in California:

  1. Possession of Methamphetamine for Sale – California PC 11378

Possessing Methamphetamine with the intent to sell it is a felony offense in California. Since transportation, actual sale, or attempted sale are illegal in the state, it is difficult to prove the crime. When found guilty of possessing methamphetamine for sale, you remain in jail for 16 months, 24 months, or 36 months.

Under PC 11378, you might face a drug diversion program. However, violation of PC 11378 attracts a mandatory jail term. You can also obtain drug treatment under California PC 11377 if your criminal defense lawyer negotiates a plea deal.

Remember, facing charges for possessing methamphetamine for sale is not the end. You can still fight the charges by working with a competent criminal defense attorney. The attorney can use a variety of defenses to fight the charge. The defenses might include violating your rights during the arrest and making false allegations.

  1. Possession of Controlled Substances – California PC 11350

The statute prohibits any person from possessing controlled substances in California. The substances include peyote, heroin, LSD, and prescription opioids like codeine and hydrocodone. When law enforcement officers arrest you for having any of the named drugs, you face a misdemeanor charge. Under Proposition 47, it is a felony if you have a severe prior offense or a sex crime.

With the help of a criminal defense attorney, you can still fight the charges. The attorney can develop a strong defense and represent you in court. The defenses used by your defense attorney to fight the charges include police misconduct and involuntary intoxication.

  1. Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence of Methamphetamine – California PC 23152(f)

You might find yourself behind bars when law enforcement officers arrest you for operating a car while under the influence of Methamphetamine. When you are a first-time offender, you face the following penalties:

  • 12 months jail term.
  • Mandatory three months drug education session.
  • The criminal court can inflict restrictions on your driving license for a minimum of six months.

According to the law, you can sometimes even face both charges for operating a vehicle while under the influence of Methamphetamine and for possession of Methamphetamine. However, you can still fight the charges when you work with an experienced attorney. For example, the attorney can argue you were not operating the vehicle.

  1. Manufacturing Controlled Substance – California PC 11379.6

According to the law, it is a felony in California to make, mix, or process illegal substances. Methamphetamine is among the controlled substances manufactured from local ingredients. You might remain in jail for 3, 5, or 7 years when found guilty.

When police find you with things that can be used to make or mix meth, you could be charged with a crime. So, if you are in a similar situation, you should talk to your criminal defense attorney. The attorney will develop strong defenses to help you fight the charge.

How Hiring a Drug Possession Lawyer Can Help

In California, possession of methamphetamine is among the most severely punished crimes. After your arrest, you might be shocked to learn that you will spend time in jail. However, there are other cases. You have your rights. Therefore, you might not be convicted even if you committed the crime. The following are a few of your rights after a criminal arrest:

  • Right to remain calm.
  • Right to an attorney.

It is imperative to hire a drug possession attorney after your arrest. The attorney will help you understand the case better and show you your options. Also, the attorney will help you know the potential charges you face when found guilty of the crime.

Do more than choose to work with an attorney. A well-skilled and experienced attorney is the best choice for you. Even when the police discover the controlled substance in another person's home, but the officers have evidence you played a role in purchasing the substance, you face conviction for the crime.

Contact a Defense Attorney Near Me

When you face a charge of possession of methamphetamine, you must seek legal help from an experienced attorney. Even though you face misdemeanor charges, handling a drug crime can be a challenging experience. The conviction could make obtaining your dream job or finding a new one hard.

At Michele Ferroni Pasadena Criminal Attorney Law Firm, we are always ready to work with you. We have handled countless drug crimes. If you seek legal services in PAsadena, take your time. Contact us today at 626-628-0564 and speak with one of our top drug possession attorneys.