Police recently seized more than 100 pounds of methamphetamine in a South Los Angeles drug bust. The drugs have a street value of more than $1 million. The two men in possession of the drugs were arrested at the scene. They will both face criminal drug charges for possession of methamphetamine. Since they had so much of the drug in their possession, they’ll probably face felony charges for intent to sell.
In California, it’s a violation of state law to possess a controlled substance without a valid prescription or lawful purpose. Methamphetamine is classified as a Schedule II Controlled Substance, which means that the drug has a high potential for abuse. It’s always a crime to possess methamphetamine unless you have the drugs for a legitimate and recognized scientific purpose.
California Methamphetamine Drug Laws
Possession of methamphetamine is a violation of California Health & Safety Code 11377 HSC. When charged with possession of meth, the state has to prove that you knowingly possessed methamphetamine. Prosecutors have to not only prove that you had the drug in your possession or control, but that you knew the substance was, in fact, meth.
There are two ways you can possess methamphetamine. The first is called “actual” possession. You have actual possession of methamphetamine when it is in your immediate physical control. For example, you’d be considered to have actual possession of meth if it was stashed in your pockets or a backpack you were wearing.
The second is called “constructive” possession. You have constructive possession of methamphetamine if (a) you know where the drugs are located and (b) you have the ability to control the drugs. For example, you’d be considered to have constructive possession of meth if you stashed the drugs in the trunk of your car or under your bathroom sink. Since you have control over these areas, you have possession of the drugs.
Possession of Methamphetamine Is Usually a Misdemeanor
Possession of methamphetamine used to be a wobbler, meaning that it could be a misdemeanor or a felony. However, in 2014, California voted to pass Proposition 47. Under Proposition 47, all simple meth possession crims must be charged as misdemeanors.
Misdemeanor possession of methamphetamine is punishable by up to 12 months in a Los Angeles County jail and $1,000 in fines. You may even qualify to participate in a drug diversion program to keep the meth charges off of your criminal record.
There are times when possession of meth can be charged as a felony. Felony charges may be appropriate if you have a conviction for a serious felony (e.g., murder) or are required to register with the state as a sex offender.
Possession of Methamphetamine With the Intent to Sell is a Felony
Possession of methamphetamine can also be charged as a felony under Health and Safety Code 11378 HSC if you possessed the drug with the intent to sell. Intent to sell doesn’t necessarily mean that you actively sought out buyers or tried to distribute the drugs. Intent can be inferred, based on:
- The quantity of the drug in your possession
- How the drugs are packaged
- The presence of packing materials, scales, and cash, and
- The absence of paraphernalia.
Since police found two men in possession of more than 100 pounds of meth in Los Angeles, they’ll probably face felony meth charges.
Possession of meth with the intent to sell is punishable by:
- Between 16 months and 3 years in prison, and
- $10,000 in fines.
Possession of more than 1 kilogram, or 2.2 pounds, or meth, will add an additional 3 to 15 years to your prison sentence.
Defending Methamphetamine Drug Charges in Los Angeles
The two men arrested for possession of meth will have the opportunity to defend themselves in court. The state still has to prove that it has reliable evidence and that the men are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. A strong defense, led by an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney, can make it difficult for the state to meet its burden of proof.
Defenses that can be argued in criminal methamphetamine possession cases include:
- You didn’t know you had possession of the drugs
- You didn’t know the substance you possessed was meth
- You didn’t have actual or constructive possession of the drugs
- False accusations or mistaken identity, and
- Violations of your Constitutional rights.
Defenses should help to excuse or justify why you had possession of methamphetamine. Defenses can also be used to disprove allegations that you violated the law.