Now that marijuana possession has been legalized by the voters of California, there aren’t too many criminal offenses for simple possession. Even if you are under 21, it is illegal, but not a crime, just a civil offense.
It is still a misdemeanor crime if you have more than one ounce. And it is still absolutely illegal to sell it in most cases. Just passing some along to your friends and charging them money that you may have paid (at no profit to you) is a crime. We know how to defend marijuana charges can often argue to avoid a permanent criminal conviction on your record.
Any criminal drug charge requires a legal advocate in a system that may seem unfair or indifferent. We can make sure that the judge understands you are remorseful and help show the court that you are worthy of a second chance.
Contact us for a free case evaluation and legal consultation on your marijuana charges for selling, or other drug possession charges.
California Marijuana Possession – Penalties
Possession of marijuana, in amounts less than one ounce, is now legal under California law.
If you have a criminal conviction on your record can affect your long-term career opportunities and your future. It will appear on any background check done by an employer looking to hire you. Background checks are practically free online, and will only become more commonplace. For that reason alone, many people choose to fight these charges in court and fight to keep yourself from getting branded as a convicted criminal.
Possession of Marijuana – Less than 1 ounce
Possession of under an ounce is legal for anyone 21 or over.
- If you are 18-20, the penalty is a $100 fine.
- If you are under 18, you may also be subject to mandatory drug counseling or community service in addition to the civil fine of $100.
However, you can still be accused of intent to sell, even with less than an ounce, if you have baggies, scales, or other instruments that might suggest distribution. And juvenile cases can be more complicated.
Ref: California Marijuana Possession Laws (Health & Safety Code HS 11357 B)
Possession of Marijuana – Greater than 1 Ounce
Possession of more than one ounce of marijuana for personal use is a misdemeanor charge that can result in up to 6 months in jail, $500 in fines, and probation if you are found guilty.
You can still be eligible for informal diversion and formal diversions that can avoid the most serious penalties.
Legal Defenses For Possession of Marijuana in California:
We may be able to get a prosecutor and a judge to agree to an informal diversion for a marijuana possession offense (more than an ounce). An informal diversion essentially avoids any kind of plea in exchange for another arrangement. Typically involved in the deal is drug treatment or narcotics anonymous, and possibly some community service and fines. In exchange for this agreement, the case is dropped without ever being prosecuted. This keeps your record clean, and won’t show up on any future background check.
Not all judges will go along with an informal diversion. Other California possession marijuana defense strategies that are alternatives to pleading guilty are Formal diversions. These include a number of programs that emphasize drug treatment programs over punishment. These include California drug courts, proposition 36, and Deferred Entry of Judgment. Typically, these deals result in a dismissal of the charges after successfully agreeing to treatment and any other terms. (See Below)
Any outcome that keeps your from having a criminal charge that shows up on a background check is usually a good result. The specific strategies depend on the facts of your case, and the local authorities and courts with jurisdiction over your charge. Please contact us for a free consultation to get our take on your best defense options for a California marijuana arrest or charge.
Possession of Concentrated Cannabis (up to 8 grams)
Under the new legalization initiative, it is legal to possess up to 8 grams of concentrated cannabis.
Possession of Concentrated Cannabis (more than 8 grams) or Hashish – Penalties
Possession of more than 8 grams of concentrated cannabis products, including hashish, cannabis oils, extracts, wax, dabs, etc can be a felony offense and can bring jail time if you are found guilty of the charges.
Hashish possession in California can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor, or a felony, depending. Call for details on the differences between marijuana and hashish penalties.
Ref: California Health & Safety Code HS 11357) C)
Possession with Intent to Sell Marijuana – CA Laws & Penalties
Possession with intent to sell marijuana is a felony, regardless of how much marijuana you actually possessed. The prosecution may try to prove you had the intent to sell the marijuana because you had things like a scale, baggies, or large amounts of cash.
If you are found guilty of this offense you may be facing up to 3 years in state prison.
Ref: Possession with Intent to Sell Marijuana Laws (HS 11359)
Sale of Marijuana – Charge & Penalties
If you are caught and charged with actually selling marijuana (as opposed to suspicion/intent to sell) you may be facing up to 4 years in state prison.
Ref: California Sale of Marijuana Laws (HS 11360)
What Will Happen in a California Marijuana Possession Case?
Can I Beat The Charges?
Yes, there are excellent defense options. If this is a first offense marijuana possession/drug charge and you are facing potential prison time you may be able to avoid incarceration through one of several programs in California. With the aid of an experienced defense attorney, you can request one of the following alternatives to incarceration:
Proposition 36: One year of drug treatment. The level of your treatment (inpatient, halfway house, outpatient, etc) to be determined by an expert from the Department of Health.
Drug Court: One year program in which you participate in counseling, random drug testing, 12 step programs, and judicial reviews.
Deferred Entry of Judgment: In this diversion program, you plead guilty and go through 6 months of treatment. After remaining arrest-free for an additional 12 months, the case is dismissed.
Facing any criminal drug possession charges can be very stressful. You need someone on your side to be sure that your interests are represented in a court system that is not on your side. We are here to make sure you get the fair treatment you deserve and to help you get the best possible outcome. California marijuana possession penalties can be tough and tricky to navigate, but that’s what we do. We fight for you, we know the law and we can help.
Please contact us to find out exactly what we can do to help you. There’s no obligation.