Drug Offences

Types of Charges

Drug charges can range dramatically in both scope and punishment in California.

The most common types of drug cases are:

Health and Safety Code 11350(a) “Possession of a controlled substance”

Under 11350(a) H&S it is a misdemeanor to possess drugs such as heroin, ecstacy, cocaine, crack cocaine, ketamine, GHB and prescription drugs e.g. vicodin or codeine if they are not prescribed. The maximum sentence is 1 year in the county jail and a fine.

Health and Safety Code 11364 “Possession of drug Paraphernalia”

Under 11364 it is a misdemeanor offence to possess an opium pipe or any device, contrivance, instrument or paraphernalia used for unlawful injecting or smoking of a controlled substance. Items such as pipes, spoons used for cooking drugs, and needles used for injecting substances are caught under 11364. The maximum sentence is 180 days in county jail.

Health and safety code 11351 “Possession for Sale of narcotics”

Under 11351 it is a felony to possess illegal drugs for sale. Individuals charged with this offence are not able to qualify for PC 1000 drug diversion or Proposition 36. Individuals charged with this offence are liable to be punished with imprisonment for 2 years, 3 years or 4 years.

Health and Safety Code 11352(a) “Sale or Transportation of a Controlled Substance”

Under 11352(a) it is a felony to sell, furnish, administer, give away, transport of import into California an illegal narcotic. Individuals charged with this offence are liable to imprisonment for 3 years, 4 years or 5 years.

Health and Safety Code 11379.6(a)”Manufacturing Drugs and Narcotics”

Makes it a felony to manufacture, produce, compound, convert or process a controlled substance. Individuals charged with this offence are liable to 3 years, 5 years or 7 years of imprisonment and a substantial fine.

One of the first aspects of defending a drug charge is to determine whether evidence can be suppressed thereby preventing the prosecution from using this evidence against the accused. We will analyze the case against you and determine whether a motion to suppress the evidence based on an illegal search and seizure in violation of the 4th amendment can be made. If this motion is successful it may well result in the case against you being dismissed.

It is possible for the state to seize the fruits of the drug trade in what is called a forfeiture action. This can include motor vehicles, homes, cash, and other asset. We work to protect such assets from forfeiture.

Alternative Sentencing in drug cases

In certain cases and in certain circumstances there are alternative sentencing option available.

The most common jail/prison alternate sentences in drug cases are Penal Code 1000 and Proposition 36/Substance Abuse Crime Prevention Act 2000 (“SACPA”)

PC 1000

Penal Code 1000 is a deferred entry of judgement drug diversion program. The rationale behind PC 1000 is to divert offenders away from the “typical” court system. Upon successful completion of the program, and provided the participant has not picked up any new charges in 18 months, the original charges will be dismissed.

PC 1000 is available to individuals charged with first time offences of: (1) being under the influence of a controlled substance, (2) being in possession of a controlled substance, or both, or (3) being under the influence of alcohol in a public place.
PC 1000 lasts for a minimum of 4 months. During this time a participant is expected to:

  • Attend 10 hours of individual counseling – each session lasting 1 hour maximum
  • Attend 10 hours of group counseling – each session lasting 2 hours maximum
  • Attend 5 hours of relapse prevention sessions – each session lasting a maximum of 2 hours
  • Attend a minimum of 10 self-help meetings (AA or NA)

The aim of PC 1000 is to work with an offender on his/her drug and/or alcohol problems to eliminate alcohol or drug dependence.

In Santa Barbara County there are two providers namely ZONA SECA and Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.

Unfortunately, the cost of the program is a minimum of $1,000 and insurance cannot be used.

For further information please see:

Substance Abuse Crime Prevention Act 2000 (“SACPA”) AKA Prop 36

Proposition 36 was passed by California voters in November 2000. The purpose is to divert non-violent defendants, probationers, and parolees charged with simple drug possession or drug use offenses from incarceration into community-based substance abuse treatment programs instead of jail/prison.

“Nonviolent drug possession offenses” include unlawfully:

  • Using/being under the influence of any drug listed in the “United States Controlled Substances Act”; and/or
  • Possessing or transporting any of these narcotics for personal use. These drugs include (but are by no means limited to):Cocaine, heroin, peyote, GHB, Ecstacy, Ketamine, methamphetamines, Marijuana, certain hallucinogenic substances such as PCP, codeine and hydrocodone (Vicodin).

The duration and intensity of treatment varies according to the assessment of the individuals’ level of addiction. As a minimum it will last 6 months. It includes relapse prevention groups, peer support groups, drug and alcohol education, introduction to the 12-Steps, individual counseling, random drug testing, regular court reviews, and support services. PC 1000 is considerably less intensive than Proposition 36. In addition PC 1000 leaves an individual without a conviction whereas Proposition 36 does result in a conviction.