Possession of Cocaine – 11350 Health and Safety Code
Cocaine possession carries a potent combination of punishment for the unsuspecting. The reason for this is because unlike methamphetamine and a few other drugs, cocaine charges at one point could not be lowered to a misdemeanor. After the passing of Proposition 47, it is a misdemeanor. But the court still find the drug to be a “less-favored” controlled substance. Because of this, it is highly advised you get the help of an experienced drug defense lawyer for such an offense.
There are however many options that can help you avoid jail and qualify you for a treatment program that will preserve your record and give you a second chance. Depending on the circumstances through, there are pitfalls that can turn the case upside down.
For those who cannot qualify for treatment, cocaine possession carries a punishment of up to three years in state prison or up to one year in county jail. The case becomes more difficult when charged first as a sales case due to the facts and investigation that lead to the charges.
What Does it Mean to “Possess” Cocaine?
Many mistake the idea of “possession” as being whatever is found on a person (like their clothes or in their hand). Drug crimes do not need this. The law only looks for constructive possession. What that means is that if there is enough evidence to show you had exercised control or essentially had control over the possession of a controlled substance, there is enough to arrest and charge you.
Can more than One Person be Charged with Possessing Cocaine?
Yes. As is often the case, when officers find drugs in a car where nobody admits ownership, they have the right to arrest everyone since it can be argued that everyone is potentially in “possession” of whatever was found. In the context of cocaine possession, it looks like other drugs … which begs the question whether the person who is arrested has to know what it is.
Knowledge that the Drug Possession is Actual Cocaine
Unfortunately, a person does not need to know the specific drug they are in possession of to be charged with possessing it. As stated above, cocaine can look very similar to methamphetamine or like analogs (pieces) of other drugs. So if someone were to ask you to carry a bag of drugs for them, and you had no idea what kind of drugs they are, it doesn’t matter. Knowing the fact that it is a controlled substance (in other words, illegal) is enough to charge you with possession.
What can be done to Fight Possession of Cocaine Charges?
As you can see, there are many elements that can be challenged with whether someone knowingly possessed cocaine. These issues are ripe for an experienced drug lawyer to handle once the case gets to court. It is highly suggested that you consult with someone who is knowledgeable in California’s drug laws because this is not a time to walk blindly into a court room hoping for the best.