skip to content

Find out the status of your loved
one in San Diego County

Home Escondido Criminal Defense Drug Crime

Escondido Drug Crime Attorneys

California’s Drug Laws

Drug possession, sale, and legal consequences are all changing all the time. It is helpful to know how to manage the existing laws. Continue reading to learn more about the drug laws, penalties, and common defenses in California.

A controlled substance is a restricted drug that has been placed on the State of California’s controlled substances schedule. The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 places these substances into five schedules based on their addictiveness and medical use. Here are the five schedules and some examples for each.

  • Schedule I: LSD, heroin, ecstasy
  • Schedule II: Vicodin, methamphetamine, cocaine
  • Schedule III: Codeine, ketamine, anabolic steroids
  • Schedule IV: Xanax, Ambien, Valium
  • Schedule V: Cough medication that contains codeine

While most states follow the federal drug schedules, California has passed legislation that has changed the way courts view controlled substances. California voters, for example, supported Proposition 64, the Control, Regulate, and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act, which legalized recreational marijuana use in November 2016. For adults aged 21 and above, this made personal possession and growing of marijuana for personal use legal. There are, however, a number of rules that inhabitants of California must observe in order to avoid state penalties.

Back to Top

Possession and Sale of Drugs

Possession and sale laws are two types of drug regulations that exist in California.

Illegal Possession of Drugs

Possession is one of the most minor drug offenses in California, yet anyone found in illegal possession of a prohibited narcotic will be prosecuted under California Health and Safety Code section 11350.

Possession with Intent to Sell

When a controlled substance is intended to be sold outside of specific pharmaceutical, medical, dental, or commercial operations, it is a violation of California Health & Safety Code section 11351. Drug sales and distribution are frequently referred to as “middle tier” or “street level” offenses by law enforcement. It is more serious than simple possession but not as dangerous as drug manufacturing or participation in a drug cartel, sometimes known as drug trafficking.

In the case of drug sales and distribution, intention is crucial. The prosecution must prove that you intended to sell rather than use the drugs you had in your possession.

While it is legal for licensed businesses to sell marijuana and people to possess and grow modest amounts of it, you may be charged with intent to sell if you have more than the legal limit or distribute it outside of commercial channels.

Back to Top



If it is your first time, you might merely be charged with an infraction, which carries a small fee. A misdemeanor charge, on the other hand, is more likely and may result in up to a year in county jail. Immigrants may be subjected to harsher penalties, including deportation. If you have a strong legal defense, you may be able to enter a diversion program or a rehabilitation center instead of going to jail and have your charges dismissed.

It should be remembered that the more hazardous the banned substance is in relation to the aforementioned schedules, the greater the penalty is. While adult possession and use of marijuana is legal in California, anyone under the age of 21 can still face criminal charges under state law.


This “middle tier” designation does not guarantee that the authorities will be lenient with you. If you are convicted of selling or distributing narcotics, you might face felony charges and face up to two, three, or four years in state prison, as well as fines of up to $20,000 and/or felony probation.

Because of the subjective nature of the situations, California has an increasing penalty scheme. For example, the more illegal substances you are accused of distributing, the higher the penalties associated with your conviction. Furthermore, distribution of more hazardous narcotics (based on the drug’s schedule) is punishable more severely.

Back to Top

Common Defenses for Drug Possession

Mistaken Identity

If you live with others, the prosecution must show that you were not only aware of the drugs’ presence but also that they were yours and did not belong to someone else.

Medical Necessity

This is another popular defense because you may be legally allowed to carry a specific drug with you but lack the proper documents to show it.

Unlawful Search and Seizure

An Escondido drug crime defense attorney can ask, for example, “Were you patted down by a police officer and then arrested for possession?” They may not have had legal authorization to do so, as all police officers are required to follow a set of procedures when searching and arresting a person. As a result, any evidence presented will be inadmissible.

Back to Top

Common Defenses for Drug Sales

A skilled Escondido criminal defense lawyer can use a variety of defenses to get your charges reduced or dismissed, such as not knowing you were in possession of a controlled substance, you were legally allowed to have that substance in a large quantity, the drugs were for personal use and you had no intention of selling them, or the police illegally searched your home and seized the drugs.

While the intent to sell is a very precise offense under California law, prosecutors must successfully prove that you meet all of the requisite elements of the crime before you can be convicted.

Back to Top

Schedule a Consultation With an Escondido Drug Crime Lawyer

You will need a highly skilled legal team to represent you if you have been charged with drug possession or sale in Escondido. James N. Dicks, the founding attorney of jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys, is a California State Bar-certified criminal defense specialist and former LAPD narcotics investigator. He has more than 30 years of expertise advising defendants and can provide you with advice in fighting your criminal accusations. Call (760) 638-5266 to discuss your case in a free consultation today.

Back to Top

Don’t Waste Any Time!
Call us today for a FREE Consultation
(760) 630-2000

Find out the status of your loved
one in San Diego County

Warrant LookupJail Lookup
James N. Dicks

About James N. Dicks