Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance | California HS11550

Most people understand that they can be arrested for possessing or trying to sell drugs. What they might not recognize, however, is that California law actually prohibits an individual even using or being under the influence of drugs. These laws are not very complex, but the penalties related to a conviction can be extremely severe, considering the crime.
What is Under the Influence?

The meaning of being under the influence of controlled substances is pretty much self-explanatory, but it is important to note that marijuana is not covered under this statute. Drugs that are covered are substances such as hallucinogens, depressants, opiates, stimulants and even some prescription drugs. There are a few specific things, however, that the prosecution must prove before a conviction can take place.

Prosecutors must prove that a person was either under the influence of narcotics or currently using them. When considered under these statutes, ‘currently’ means immediate use prior to being arrested. Unfortunately for some, this determination can be unclear—in fact, proof of use within five days prior to arrest may constitute sufficient evidence.

When it comes to being under the influence of drugs, prosecutors must only prove that a person was affected by a drug in any type of detectable manner. This means that a person can be prosecuted for the crime even if they were not grossly impaired or engaged in any type of misconduct.

What are the Bail Amounts?

Luckily for those charged with being under the influence of a controlled substance, you are allowed to post bail and be released from jail prior to your trial.  All California counties have their own bail schedules, however, so this means that the amounts may vary depending on the county in which the arrest occurred.

In Orange and San Diego counties, for instance, bail can be set at $1,000 for those charged with this crime; in Orange County, however, this amount will rise to $2,500 for those arrested for a second or subsequent offense. Los Angeles County, on the other hand, sets their bail for an initial arrest at $2,500. These variations are just a few of the many within the vast territory of California state.

Consequences and Penalties

Considering the fact that the charge is only a misdemeanor, individuals convicted of being under the influence of a controlled substance can face serious penalties. At minimum, a person will face 90 days in jail, but this punishment could go all the way up to a full year.

Additionally, an individual may be required to attend drug counseling and perform community service. On top of all of these punishments, those convicted may also end up on probation for up to five years. Because of these penalties, many people believe that the punishment for this crime far exceeds its actual harm.

Too many people think that California is lax on drug crimes simply because medical marijuana is legal, but nothing could be further from the truth. Just being under the influence of a drug, or having recently used one, is enough to constitute criminal charges in the State of California. It is important to note  that this charge is something might affect your future employment—certainly a good reason to achieve bail and obtain legal representation toward dismissing or reducing any potential conviction.

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