Drug possession (HS 11377) is not the most serious crime in California, but it can lead to severe legal consequences far outside of criminal law. Understanding the ways in which you can navigate a drug possession charge is crucial if you want to stay on the right side of the law and minimize the damage it can do to your professional and personal life.

To better prepare for your case, you must know that Orange County treats HS 11377 differently than San Diego, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Ventura, and Riverside. If you are charged in these other counties, you may contact us now to know the different options.

In this blog post, we will take a closer look at Health and Safety Code §11377, which prohibits the possession of certain controlled substances in the United States. We will explore what constitutes drug possession under this law and delve into the possible defenses against a HS 11377 charge. Additionally, we will discuss how certain licensed professionals’ possession of these substances factors in, potential penalties for violating HS 11377, and your options when charged with this offense.

Lastly, we will touch upon background checks, licensing issues, and how to remove HS 11377 from criminal record databases. So let’s dive in and gain a deeper understanding of California’s drug law and how Orange County prosecutes these cases.

Overview of Health and Safety Code §11377 HS

California Health and Safety Code 11377, also known as ‘HS 11377’, addresses the possession of certain controlled substances within the state. Under this law, the possession of drugs like methamphetamine, ketamine, and certain prescription medications is considered a misdemeanor offense (which used to be a Felony a few years ago). Violation of HS 11377 can result in penalties such as fines, probation, and even imprisonment to some defendants.

However, it’s important to note that there are legal defenses available to fight charges under this code, such as lack of knowledge or consent. It is essential to understand these defenses and consider fighting drug possession charges to avoid conviction. By being aware of your rights and understanding the intricacies of HS 11377, you can navigate the legal landscape more effectively.

Therefore, even with a conviction, it’s highly advised that you know what the next steps would be to clear it from your record.

Meth, Methamphetamine, Ecstasy, MDMA

The subdivision within HS 11377 covers many Schedules in the Controlled Substances Act. Among the most common violations of HS 11377 in Orange County are Methamphetamine (“Meth), and Ecstasy/MDMA appear to be the most prevalent.

Similarly, many charged with methamphetamine are also charged with 11364(a) which means a device or paraphernalia was also possessed. This is a separate offense and they often accompany each other in the criminal complaint.

Decoding the Elements of a HS 11377 Charge

Mentioned above, this law encompasses various substances, including methamphetamine and other controlled substances listed under the California Health and Safety Code. To prove that someone is guilty of this offense, the Prosecution must show:

(1) Unlawful Possession,

(2) Knowledge of its presence,

(3) Knowledge of the substances’ nature or character as a controlled substance,

(4) The controlled substance was in fact {an enumerated substance in the code or an analog of it}, and

(5) It was a usable* amount.

*a usable amount is such that someone can actually use it as a controlled substance. Useless trace amounts (debris or residue) is not usable. Some drug experts testify that this must be enough meth one can manipulate with one’s fingers.

Understanding the Difference between Possession and Possession for Sale

Possession and possession for sale are two distinct terms in the context of drug-related offenses. While possession refers to having drugs for personal use, possession for sale involves the intent to distribute them. The key difference lies in the evidence of intent, such as the presence of scales or packaging materials, which is required for possession for sale charges.

In California, the penalties for possession for sale are much harsher compared to simple possession. Factors that can impact the severity of the charge and potential penalties include the quantity of drugs found in possession. It is important to note that even a usable amount of a controlled substance can lead to serious consequences.

If you were arrested or cited for a simple possession charge but believe there is evidence you may be prosecuted for sales, it is highly advised you seek legal counsel immediately to navigate the next steps.

What are the Possible Defenses against a HS 11377 Charge?

Possible defenses against this charge include lack of knowledge about the substance’s illegality, unlawful search and seizure, having a valid prescription or medical use, and being under duress or coercion to possess the drug.

Crystal meth is not easily identifiable to those who don’t use it. Thus, the uninitiated can put the controlled substances act to the test in several ways. But apart from claiming one is a novice, there may also be a credible argument against knowingly possessing or lacking in actual and constructive possession.

Potential Penalties for HS 11377 Violation

Violating HS 11377 can range from relatively minimal punishment to serious consequences–depending on the circumstances of the case.

If convicted, individuals may face misdemeanor charges, punishable by up to one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. However, the penalties can be even more severe for those with prior drug-related convictions, as they may be charged with a felony. Felony charges carry harsher punishments, including longer jail sentences and higher fines. It’s important to note that a HS 11377 violation can also have adverse effects on various aspects of life, such as employment and housing. Seeking legal guidance from an experienced criminal defense attorney is crucial in these situations, as they can help build a strong defense and potentially minimize the penalties.

Is Drug Diversion an Option?

Yes and No. Drug diversion programs can be available for individuals charged with HS 11377, along with other creative alternative program available for many drug crimes. These programs offer an alternative to jail time and can help individuals avoid criminal records. However, eligibility for drug diversion is determined on a case-by-case basis, so it’s important to consult with an attorney to determine if this option is appropriate.

Simply stated: NOT EVERYONE receives Diversion for HS 11377. Every case is truly unique. Therefore, hiring an experienced attorney can get you into an alternative sentencing program where none was available before. Prior convictions and warrants for similar charges may limit the top options considerably.

Background checks and 11377

An HS 11377 conviction carries potential consequences for employment and housing background checks. Plea bargains or guilty pleas should be carefully considered, as they can have a lasting impact. Consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands the intricacies of California’s drug possession laws is crucial. They can help navigate the legal system and potentially minimize the negative effects on future opportunities. Diversion programs or drug treatment options may be available as alternatives to incarceration, offering a chance to address addiction and positively influence future prospects. Taking proactive steps with the guidance of a knowledgeable attorney can help individuals facing HS 11377 charges protect their rights and explore the best possible outcomes.

Does Drug Possession Effect a California License?

Absolutely. Under the California Business and Professions Code, drug possession convictions can have severe consequences on professional licenses or state credentials (certifications). This applies to healthcare, law, education, transportation, construction, and finance. Methamphetamine possession reflects ones character and must be mitigated to recover your chance to be licensed.

If convicted under HS 11377 of the California Health and Safety Code, individuals may face the suspension or revocation of their licenses–or be denied from having one entirely. It is crucial to consult with an attorney who specializes in drug possession charges to navigate these licensing issues effectively. An experienced attorney can provide guidance on potential strategies to minimize the impact of a drug possession conviction on professional licensing. By exploring options such as diversion programs or alternative sentencing, it is possible to mitigate the harm caused by a drug possession conviction.

Removing 11377 from Criminal Databases (Background Checks)

When it comes to an HS 11377 conviction, it’s important to understand the impact it can have on criminal records and job prospects.

  1. If you are facing a current/pending charge for HS 11377, you must do whatever possible to avoid a conviction.
  2. If you’re looking to improve your chances of securing employment and reducing the stigma associated with a drug possession charge or conviction, it may be beneficial to explore the process of removing the 11377 conviction from criminal databases.

However, navigating this process can be complex, which is why seeking legal advice from an experienced attorney is crucial.

Our office can guide you through the steps involved in avoiding a conviction entirely as well as petitioning the court for an expungement and help you understand the potential benefits of having a 11377 conviction removed.

By taking proactive measures, such as removing 11377 from criminal databases, you can improve your chances of better job prospects and a fresh start.

We have built a proprietary system that effectively removes qualified criminal charges and convictions from thousands of databases within just a few days.


Understanding the intricacies of California drug possession laws is crucial when it comes to protecting your rights and navigating the legal system.

Being aware of HS 11377 elements and possible defenses can significantly impact the outcome of your case. Additionally, understanding the potential penalties and options for drug diversion can help you make informed decisions.

If you find yourself facing a charge under HS 11377, it’s essential to consult with an experienced attorney who has handled countless drug possession cases. Use our contact form to get started.

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About the Author: Bart Kaspero

Bart Kaspero is an experienced criminal defense and regulatory attorney who has focused on using technology and the law in bringing privacy to criminal records. His research has been published in several legal journals and his unique background has helped a broad spectrum of clients. He has provided legal training to lawyers across the US on how to navigate complex criminal record legislation and how to effectively provide privacy to those with past arrests, charges, and convictions. His innovative methods have earned him a top position of authority on the subject of criminal record privacy as well as trust within the criminal data supply chain.