Almost everyone in California should know that possessing drugs is a serious offense that can result in severe consequences. What many people may not know, however, is that simply possessing the items used in the consumption of certain drugs can be a criminal offense. This crime is known as possession of drug paraphernalia, and if convicted, an individual may end up with a punishment that many view as excessive.
What is Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in California?
Drug paraphernalia involves any equipment, product, or material that is modified for making, using, or concealing drugs, typically for recreational purposes. Merely being in control of these items is a violation of California’s Health and Safety Code. The law says that it’s illegal to possess drug paraphernalia in California. It goes on to state that these types of items include anything used in the smoking or injecting of unlawful controlled substances. It should be noted that syringes used for medically prescribed purposes do not fall under this statute.
The prosecution must prove that a person had control over, or simply the right to control, the paraphernalia when arrested. In addition, it must be proven that the individual knew the item was drug paraphernalia and also knew that they had control over the item. Items used for marijuana use are exempted from this law and handled under other statutes.
Types Of Drug Possession Charges
Understanding the types of drug possession charges can help you know what to expect in a court of law. The penalties for various types of drug possession charges vary from case to case, and it is important that you have a strong defense against any potential charges.
There are three types of drug possession charges an individual may face:
- Actual Possession – Actual possession happens if drugs were found on the defendant’s person. For example, if you are smoking a marijuana cigarette and police walk by, you would stand charged with actual possession.
- Constructive Possession – Constructive possession happens if drugs were stored and under the defendant’s control. For example, if drugs were in the trunk of a vehicle, then it would be considered constructive possession.
- Joint Possession – Joint possession happens when multiple persons possess the drugs in question. For example, if two friends were in a car and police found marijuana on each of them, they would both face charges for joint possession.
Bail Amounts for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in California
Although the state of California sets forth punishments related to all crimes committed within its borders, it does allow individual counties to set their own bail amounts. Each county lists these amounts on their bail schedule. Individuals who can either pay the face amount, or have Bail Hotline post the bond for a fraction of that cost, can be released from jail instead of waiting in custody for their court date.
The bail amounts for possessing drug paraphernalia can vary greatly. In Los Angeles, for instance, bail is set at $250 after an arrest for drug paraphernalia possession. It’s important to note, however, that many bail schedules don’t even list a bail amount for possessing drug paraphernalia. This doesn’t mean, though, that there is no set measure. In Orange County, for instance, the bail schedule states that any misdemeanor charge that isn’t listed will have a bail amount of $500.
Punishments for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
The potential repercussions for a conviction of this magnitude are pretty straightforward. Those who are convicted are guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to up to six months in jail. In addition to this, a person may also face a $1,000 fine for their possession of these particular items. Many think this is a bit excessive for merely having certain equipment, but these punishments have long been set forth by the state.
In addition, individuals with California professional licenses, such as a teaching license, may be put on automatic leave until the situation has been resolved. This means that these individuals could face the loss of their jobs in addition to the aforementioned penalties.
While the punishments for possessing drug paraphernalia in California may seem excessive to some, this doesn’t mean that the California criminal justice system is going to go easy on a person convicted of the crime. Anyone facing these types of charges has a few important decisions to make, and an individual who gets help from an attorney is much more likely to have a good outcome from their case.