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When is a California Drug Possession Charge a Felony?

The amount of drugs found in possession of a person in combination of the type of drug will determine the potential sentencing range and the relevant section of the California Health and Safety Code. Consequently, it will determine whether a person is charged with an infraction, misdemeanor or felony.s

In general, the smaller the quantity of drugs, the increased chances of being charged with an infraction or a misdemeanor. California law prior to January 1, 2011, made possession of less than an ounce of marijuana a misdemeanor, and anything more than an ounce, a felony. A recent change in California law has made possession of marijuana under an ounce, an infraction. An infraction is comparable to a traffic ticket. It involves no jail time, just a fine to be paid. Being charged with an infraction, other than dismissal, is the best possible result. Due to the relatively new nature of the law, it is unclear what amount will constitute a misdemeanor and a felony under California law.

The potential charge for drugs other than marijuana will depend on the type of drug and the state in which a person is being tried. In California, drug possession charges will be a felony, regardless ofsquantity, for serious drugs like heroin and crack.

However, first time offenders in the majority of drug cases will qualify for a drug diversion program. A drug diversion program allows a person to enroll in drug education and rehabilitation classes and upon completion, have their case dismissed.
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A drug possession charge may also be charged as a felony when it is in conjunction with several other charges. Such charges may include Possession for Sale, or Driving under the Influence of a controlled substance.

A knowledgeable Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney can provide the persuasive argument your case needs to ensure you qualify for a Drug Diversion program. With changes in law, a drug possession case has a high probability of being dismissed with the right defense from an experienced professional.