Dealing With Drug Charges in Orange County

For anyone facing criminal drug charges in Orange County, California, there are several options available depending on the circumstances..  First and foremost, an experienced Orange County criminal drug crimes attorney  who handles drug cases can help you obtain the best possible outcome for your situation, so don’t delay in hiring an attorney to handle your case.  There are several different types of criminal charges that can be filed, depending on the drugs, paraphernalia involved and the circumstances surrounding the offense.

Misdemeanor or Felony Drug Charges?

Certain drug offenses can be filed as straight misdemeanor offenses.  For example, if a person is a user and only gets caught after using the illegal substance, but is still in possession of the paraphernalia they used to ingest it, then they may be charged with possession of drug paraphernalia pursuant to Health and Safety Code section 11364, which carries a maximum jail sentence of 6 months.   If a person is only found to be under the influence of an illegal drug, the charge would be a violation of Health and Safety Code section 11550, a misdemeanor that carries a minimum jail sentence of 90 days.  There are alternatives to spending time in custody which are discussed below.

For possession of a small amount of marijuana  (not more than 28.5 grams), the charge would be a violation of Health and Safety Code section 11357(b), an infraction.  For this charge, the arresting officer issues a citation like a traffic ticket.  The maximum penalty for this offense is only $100.  However, this charge can usually be dismissed by attending a drug and alcohol class.   If the amount possessed is more than 28.5 grams, the charge would be a violation of Health and Safety Code section 11357(c), which is a misdemeanor and carries a maximum jail sentence of 6 months.  If the amount was possessed for purposes of selling it, then a felony charge would be filed (Health and Safety Code section 11359).  This offense carries a maximum state prison term of 3 years.

Alternatives to custody time

Possessing certain illegal drugs (methamphetamine, heroin, etc.) will result in felony charges.  However, there are alternative sentencing options available in Orange County if the person charged possessed the drugs for personal use and not for the purpose of selling them.  The options available are the diversion program (PC1000), Prop 36 treatment, Drug Court.

If the amount of drugs were possessed for personal use only, there is no allegation that they were possessed for purposes of sale, and the personal’s criminal record involves no prior drug convictions, her or she may be eligible for the courts PC 1000 drug diversion program  pursuant to Penal Code section 1000.  Successful completion of this program will result in a dismissal of the charge.  If the person charged is found to be ineligible for PC 1000, or was terminated from the PC 1000 program, there is still the option of Prop 36 drug treatment.

Penal Code section 1210 lists the characteristics of the Prop 36 program which is longer and requires more than the PC 1000 program.  This program may include “drug education, outpatient services, narcotic replacement therapy, residential treatment, detoxification services, and aftercare services”.  The person who successfully completes the Prop 36 program can also get the case dismissed.

In certain situations, the only available alternative to avoid custody time for drug charges is Orange County Superior Court’s Drug Court.  This is a very tough program and is usually only available for those individuals with severe addictions who continue to get arrested and charged with drug crimes.  There is a special qualification process for this collaborative court and not everyone who wants into the program gets accepted.

For more information about all of the options for a drug charge in Orange County, contact the Kenney Legal Defense Corporation and schedule a free consultation in order to discuss the specifics of your case at (855) 505-5588.


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