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When do drug charges become a felony in California?

On Behalf of | Jun 29, 2023 | blog, Criminal Defense

You may think a minor drug possession charge is not a big deal, but you need to understand the specifics of California law.

The distinction between a misdemeanor and a felony charge makes a big difference in the consequences one must face.

What are controlled substances?

In California, the law differentiates drug charges based on the type of drug, the quantity and your intended use. You could face felony charges if you have drugs classified as controlled substances. These include cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, certain types of prescription drugs without a valid prescription and others.

What is intent?

Your intentions play a big role in the seriousness of your charges. For example, if you are in possession of a small amount of a controlled substance for personal use, you may face misdemeanor charges. However, if law enforcement believes you intended to sell or distribute the drug, your charges can escalate to a felony.

Police can infer intent from various factors such as the quantity of the drug, the presence of packaging materials, large amounts of cash or communications suggesting sales activities.

What are felony drug charge penalties?

Facing a felony drug charge in California is no small matter. The consequences are severe and could significantly impact your life. Felony convictions carry heavy fines, often ranging from $1,000 to $50,000. Besides, you may face imprisonment. Depending on the specific charge and your criminal history, you could serve anywhere from one year to life in state prison.

Stay informed about the laws that can affect your life. A minor possession charge can escalate into a major legal issue under certain circumstances. Be aware of your actions and the potential consequences.