The War on Drugs has long villainized the use of any substance that is considered illegal. While legal statutes are slowly evolving which decriminalize certain uses of marijuana, it’s important to note that federally, and even in California, it is usually illegal to use the substance. In fact, it’s illegal to even possess this drug without a legal right to do so; such as for prescribed medicinal purposes, in all of California. This is why it is important to clearly understand what is meant by the crime of personal possession of marijuana.
Who can be Charged with Personal Possession?
A personal possession of marijuana charge is one of the most straightforward charges that the state can bring against a person. The state simply has to prove that a person knowingly had possession of marijuana and that they knew that it was a drug. On top of these requirements, the state must also show that the amount of the drug possessed was sufficient to actually be used as a drug.
Luckily for many individuals, a small amount of residual marijuana isn’t likely enough to meet the aforementioned element of evidence. Residual amounts of marijuana only prove that a person used the drug previously; there must be enough of the drug left for it to still be used in the manner it was intended for a conviction to be attained.
Bail Amounts after Arrest
California sets forth the punishments related to personal possession of marijuana, but each individual county is able to set forth its own bail amounts which are defined within their bail bond schedules. These schedules have bail amounts listed for just about anything that a person could be charged with. Since each locality determines their own schedule, California’s county bail amounts vary widely.
In Sacramento County, the bail amount for personal possession of marijuana is set at a hefty $3,000. In Santa Cruz County, on the other hand, this amount drops to $1,000. An individual who manages to get arrested for possession in Los Angeles County, however, will only face a $500 bail amount; and this amount drops to only $35 if the amount possessed is less than 28.5 grams.
Penalties for Conviction
Due to a California law passed in early 2011, having less than one ounce of marijuana is considered an infraction and only punishable by a fine of $100. A person may face higher fines, however, and even jail time if they have possession of concentrated cannabis or they have these substances on school property during school hours.
Those convicted of having over an ounce of marijuana that is not concentrated cannabis will face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $500. For those with concentrated cannabis, however, these penalties can become much more serious. A conviction of personally possessing concentrated cannabis can land a person in jail for up to a year if charged as a misdemeanor, and this term can jump up to three years if charged as a felony.
Personal possession of marijuana can lead to serious consequences for those convicted of the crime. This conviction can lead to long term repercussions from having a criminal conviction on one’s record, but it’s even possible for an individual to face serious prison time after their first conviction. This is why it is so essential for anyone charged with the crime to understand their rights and potential defenses.