Methamphetamine is a controlled substance in California. It is categorized as a Schedule II controlled substance according to Health and Safety Code Section 11055. This means that methamphetamine and related compounds are tightly regulated under state law.

Simply put, it is against the law to manufacture, possess, sell, or use methamphetamine in California without a valid prescription from a licensed medical professional. Breaking these laws carries serious consequences, including criminal charges and penalties like fines and imprisonment.

At the California Criminal Lawyer Group, our attorneys specialize in handling cases involving methamphetamine possession, a specific offense outlined in Health and Safety Code Section 11377. If you face charges related to methamphetamine possession in Anaheim, we are here to offer you essential guidance and support throughout the legal proceedings.

A Breakdown of Health and Safety Code 11377

Health & Safety Code § 11377(a) makes it an offense to have methamphetamine in your possession. This law deals directly with the unlawful ownership of this controlled substance. Individuals caught with methamphetamine can expect legal ramifications under this statute.

Prosecutors will secure your conviction for methamphetamine possession under Health and Safety Code 11377 when they establish four fundamental elements of the offense, namely:

  1. You had methamphetamines in your possession.
  2. You were aware you had methamphetamine in your possession.
  3. You knew the substance you possessed was a controlled substance, even if you did not necessarily know it was methamphetamine.
  4. The amount of methamphetamine you had was enough to be used as a drug, not just mere traces or residue.
  • Possession of Methamphetamines

Possession can be broken down into three primary categories:

Actual Possession

Actual possession occurs when someone physically holds an item or substance. A straightforward example would be someone having methamphetamines in their pocket. In these cases, they are considered to be in actual possession of those items.

Constructive Possession

Under constructive possession, it becomes more nuanced. Constructive possession comes into play when a person does not have direct physical control over the methamphetamine but has the intention, authority, or capability to control it.

For example, methamphetamine is found in a person's car, and that individual holds the car keys. This scenario could be deemed constructive possession of the drugs.

Joint Possession

When multiple individuals collectively control or have access to the controlled substance, it is referred to as joint possession. In this situation, all parties involved could face possession charges.

For example, if methamphetamines are discovered in a shared residence, all residents could be subject to joint possession charges.

  • Controlled Substance

A controlled substance is any drug or chemical that the government regulates. The government controls the manufacture, possession, and use of the substances according to the provisions of:

  1. The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) at the federal level and
  2. Health and Safety Codes 11054, 11055, and 11377 at the state level.

The CSA grants the government the authority to oversee various substances, particularly those potentially impacting interstate commerce.

Methamphetamine is categorized as a controlled substance under the CSA, subjecting it to stringent regulatory measures. Alongside methamphetamine, a range of other illicit drugs, for example, cocaine. Heroin, marijuana, and LSD also fall under the purview of this federal framework.

In legal proceedings involving controlled substances like methamphetamine, the prosecution often relies on laboratory tests to ascertain the chemical composition. Furthermore, expert witnesses are commonly called upon to confirm the substance's identity as methamphetamine. These practices ensure that the legal process aligns with the stipulations outlined in the Controlled Substances Act.

Methamphetamine is a potent stimulant known for its ability to accelerate both bodily and cognitive functions significantly. It comes in various forms, including pills, powder, or a crystalline structure called "rock."

The methods of using methamphetamine are diverse, allowing individuals to consume it in ways that suit them:

  1. Oral consumption — Methamphetamine can be taken orally, much like a conventional pill.
  2. Injection — Some individuals directly introduce methamphetamine into their bloodstream.
  3. Snorting — Inhaling it through the nose is another method some prefer.
  4. Smoking — This involves inhaling methamphetamine vapor through a glass pipe.
  5. Inhalation — There is also the practice of "huffing," where methamphetamine is inhaled in a toxic gas form.

Interestingly, methamphetamine's origins trace back to the 1950s, when it was used to help individuals like college students, truckers, and athletes remain awake and alert. However, it is now widely recognized as dangerous, typically prescribed only for specific medical conditions like ADHD and obesity.

Tragically, methamphetamines are frequently abused and produced or sold through illegal channels. In California, for instance, a significant portion of the meth involved in methamphetamine charges originates from Mexico.

Nevertheless, the state still grapples with many meth labs, known as clandestine or "mom and pop" labs. These makeshift operations often occur in homes, mobile homes, garages, or warehouses.

The allure of methamphetamine lies in its widespread availability and relatively low cost, which makes it appealing to a diverse range of individuals, from addicts seeking a high to young people experimenting with drugs. This broad appeal presents significant challenges in addressing its profound impact on public health and safety.

Methamphetamine is known by various street names and slang terms, including:

  1. Meth,
  2. Glass,
  3. Crystal,
  4. Ice,
  5. Tina,
  6. Crank,
  7. Chalk,
  8. Speed,
  9. Go-fast,
  10. Blue or blue ice, and
  11. Bathtub crank.

These terms are often used colloquially and can vary by region and subculture, reflecting the drug's underground presence and the diversity of its users.

  • Knowledge

For the state to secure your conviction for methamphetamine charges, they must prove you knew about the substance. "Knowledge" simply means understanding that the substance in question is methamphetamine. This awareness is a crucial factor that the prosecution must establish.

More specifically, the prosecution is tasked with demonstrating that you clearly understood that the substance you possessed belonged to the category of controlled substances, with a particular emphasis on it being methamphetamine.

Note: Prosecutors are not always required to prove you knew the name "methamphetamine." What holds significance is their ability to confirm your awareness of its controlled status.

  • Usable Amount

A "usable amount" of methamphetamine refers to an amount of the substance that can be consumed as a drug to produce the desired psychoactive effects. This distinction is vital because it helps discern between individuals with only small remnants of the substance, which could not be suitable for consumption, and those with a quantity appropriate for drug use.

The specific quantity needed to meet the "usable amount" requirement varies. It is determined on a case-by-case basis. Typically, it is determined by considering the methamphetamine's purity, its physical form (crystal or powder), and other pertinent circumstances.

What Is Possession For Sale, And How Is It Different From Simple Possession?

In California, possession of methamphetamine leads to two distinct criminal charges, each carrying its own legal consequences.

Simple Possession of Methamphetamine

This charge relates to the unlawful possession of methamphetamine for personal use, not for distribution or sale. Prosecutors must prove that you knowingly and unlawfully possessed methamphetamine.

Penalties for simple possession are typically less severe and may include fines, probation, participation in drug treatment programs, and, in some cases, imprisonment. These penalties vary based on factors including your prior convictions and the quantity of methamphetamine involved.

Possession for Sale of Methamphetamine (Health and Safety Code Section 11351)

Conversely, possession for sale involves having methamphetamine intended to distribute, sell, or engage in illegal drug trafficking. The prosecution must prove not only that you knowingly possessed methamphetamine but also that you intended to sell or distribute it.

Intent can be established through factors like the quantity of methamphetamine, the presence of packaging materials, and other evidence of sales activities. This is considered a more serious offense, carrying harsher penalties, especially for larger quantities. California law imposes stricter penalties for drug trafficking offenses.

When deciding on the appropriate charge, prosecutors consider whether the drugs were intended for personal use or sale. This determination often depends on several factors, namely:

  1. Quantity — Smaller amounts suggest personal use, resulting in a simple possession charge (HS 11377).
  2. Your statements — Overheard statements indicating an intent to sell could support a possession-for-sale charge (HS 11378).
  3. Packaging — Multiple bindles or baggies suggest sales intent, while single packaging implies personal use.
  4. Drug paraphernalia — The presence of paraphernalia, like pipes or needles, can be evidence of personal use.

Even if initially charged with possession for sale, we could negotiate a reduced plea to simple possession. This negotiation is essential for potentially reduced penalties and eligibility for diversion programs.

Are Doctors Subject to the Penalties Outlined Under HSC 11377 for Possessing Meth?

Medical professionals, including doctors, pharmacists, and veterinarians, generally do not violate Health and Safety Code 11377 when possessing methamphetamines. However, their actions must align with both state and federal statutes.

In certain circumstances, these professionals could be granted the authority to possess methamphetamines, primarily for medical treatment or research purposes, provided they diligently adhere to all pertinent regulations and prerequisites. This authorization typically depends on the fulfillment of licensing, prescription, or registration procedures overseen by state and federal entities.

Other Drugs Covered Under HSC 11377

Health and Safety Code 11377 isn't limited to just methamphetamine possession. It extends its scope to cover other stimulants, anabolic steroids, and frequently used "party drugs."

For example, this statute also addresses:

  1. Ecstasy possession.
  2. Ketamine possession.
  3. GHB possession, and
  4. PCP possession.

Fighting Possession of Methamphetamine Charges

You have the legal means to contest charges of possessing methamphetamine. You must be aware of your legal rights when confronted with these accusations. Further, there are a range of defense strategies our team can employ in your defense. Here are some strategies we use to challenge possession of methamphetamine charges:

  • You Have a Valid Prescription

You can contest the charges if you have a legitimate prescription for methamphetamine.

Some individuals receive methamphetamine prescriptions for genuine medical needs. For instance, methamphetamine is sometimes prescribed to address conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or obesity, albeit under highly regulated circumstances.

You, therefore, must prove the following while asserting this defense:

  1. Your possession of methamphetamine must be supported by a valid prescription issued by a licensed medical professional. The prescription should be up-to-date and accurately reflect your specific medical condition.
  2. Your methamphetamine possession should align precisely with your healthcare provider's prescribed dosage and usage instructions. Possessing an amount consistent with your medical requirements is crucial.
  3. Maintain meticulous records of your prescriptions and medication usage. This includes retaining a copy of your prescription, maintaining detailed dosing records, and possessing evidence of regular medical check-ups.
  4. Ensure you have adhered rigorously to all legal and regulatory requirements when acquiring and using the medication. This could include filling the prescription exclusively at a licensed pharmacy and strictly adhering to the prescribed dosage.
  • The Methamphetamine Was Obtained From an Illegal Search and Seizure

If you suspect that law enforcement conducted an unlawful search and seizure during your methamphetamine possession case, you can pursue a defense grounded in the violation of your Fourth Amendment rights. This defense strategy argues that the evidence, specifically the methamphetamine, was obtained through an illegal search and seizure. Therefore, it is unfit for admission in court.

We will diligently work to establish the constitutional violations that transpired during the search and seizure process. Our team will comprehensively assess its validity if the case involves a search warrant. This assessment aims to ensure that the warrant was:

  1. Lawfully issued.
  2. Sufficiently specific in its scope, and
  3. Correctly executed.

Any errors or omissions associated with the warrant can render the entire search illegitimate.

Moreover, the team will scrutinize whether the police had reasonable grounds to search without a warrant. If their suspicions were unsubstantiated or grounded in insufficient evidence, it could lead to a determination of an illegal search.

Following this evaluation, we could file pretrial motions, including a motion to suppress evidence. This motion petitions the court to exclude the methamphetamine from the evidentiary pool of the case due to the unlawful search and seizure. The judge will attentively review the arguments and evidence presented by both sides.

Ultimately, the judge will issue a verdict regarding the admissibility of the evidence. If the court concludes that the search was indeed conducted unlawfully, the methamphetamine could be disqualified from consideration in your case.

  • The Methamphetamine Belonged to Another

You have a potential defense if you can show that the crystal methamphetamine belonged to someone else and that you had no knowledge of its presence. We can use any of the following approaches while using this defense:

  1. Lack of knowledge — We will stress that you were unaware of the crystal methamphetamine. We can provide evidence, for example, details about the circumstances of the search and your arrest, to support your lack of awareness.
  2. Ownership by another person — Our team could present credible evidence indicating that someone else owned the drugs and had control over the location where they were discovered. This could include witness statements, surveillance footage, or proof of another individual's access to the area.
  3. Establishing an alibi — If possible, we will provide an alibi. We can also provide evidence demonstrating that you were not present at the location when the drugs were found during the discovery time.
  4. Inconsistent statements — Our attorneys could bring attention to any inconsistent statements made by law enforcement officers or witnesses during the investigation or arrest process.
  5. Chain of custody —Our team can also challenge the chain of custody of the evidence. If gaps or uncertainties exist in how the evidence was handled, it can undermine the prosecution's case.

Remember that the prosecution carries the burden of proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Our role as your attorneys is to introduce evidence and arguments that support the notion that the crystal methamphetamine did not belong to you.

Note: HSC 11377 offers a clear path to absolve methamphetamine possession charges, but only under these strict conditions:

  1. Another person possessed a legitimate prescription for methamphetamine.
  2. You held the methamphetamine under the explicit direction or authorization of the prescription holder.
  3. Your sole purpose was to either deliver the crystal meth to the prescription holder or lawfully dispose of it on their behalf.
  4. You refrained from personal involvement in using, distributing, or selling the methamphetamine.

In simpler terms, a valid defense against HS 11377 methamphetamine possession charges arises when you were delivering methamphetamine to a prescription holder. You are also not guilty if you lawfully dispose of the meth for another person, granted that all these conditions align.

Penalties if Convicted of Possessing Methamphetamines

Possession of methamphetamines is a misdemeanor violation. You will face the following penalties if found guilty:

  1. A jail sentence of up to one year.
  2. A fine not exceeding $1,000 or both.

If you have a prior conviction, your jail sentence increases to 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years. The priors considered for this sentence change are:

  • If you have previous convictions for certain grave felonies, such as:
    1. Sexually violent offenses.
    2. Crimes involving children under 14.
    3. Murder, or
    4. Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.
  • Additionally, if you have a previous conviction for a sex crime, that requires you to register as a sex offender under California's laws.

If you are convicted of possessing over one kilogram of methamphetamine, you could face an extra 3 to 15 years of imprisonment. This additional sentence can be imposed even if the prosecutor cannot establish your intent to sell the drug.

Before the approval of Proposition 47 in November 2014, HS 11377 was a wobbler offense. In legal terms, a wobbler offense can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor, contingent on factors such as:

  1. The case's specific circumstances and
  2. The prosecutor's discretion.

However, the landscape shifted significantly with the passage of Proposition 47. This voter initiative reclassified several non-violent drug offenses, including specific drug possession charges, as misdemeanors. Consequently, this reclassification altered how HS 11377 was handled in many cases.

Eligibility for Drug Diversion

Under certain conditions, you could qualify for drug diversion. The program offers drug treatment instead of serving time behind bars for an HS 11377 violation. You qualify if:

  1. You have no previous convictions or only one previous non-violent offense.
  2. The methamphetamine in question was exclusively for your personal use.

Three primary drug diversion programs are in place:

  1. Proposition 36.
  2. Penal Code 1000.
  3. California drug court.

Additionally, drug diversion is not available if you are convicted of or plead guilty to:

  1. Selling meth under HS 11379.
  2. Possessing meth for sale under HS 11378.

However, if you negotiate a plea agreement and plead guilty to HS 11377 simple possession instead of these more serious charges, you could still be eligible for drug diversion and the associated rehabilitation programs.

Impact of a Conviction For Possession of Methamphetamines on Your Immigration Status

A conviction for possessing methamphetamine can result in immigration consequences. These consequences include deportation or initiation of removal proceedings.

Therefore, it is important for non-citizens facing criminal charges to seek counsel from an immigration attorney. Such legal professionals can offer invaluable insights into how a specific conviction could influence their immigration status. The attorneys will guide you on legal avenues to address these concerns.

Contact a Anaheim Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

If you are confronted with drug-related charges, especially those involving methamphetamine, enlisting the services of an attorney specializing in the defense of drug-related charges is in your best interest. Our Anaheim attorneys at the California Criminal Lawyer Group have honed their expertise in drug-related offenses. We possess an in-depth understanding of the multifaceted laws, regulations, and defense tactics pertinent to cases of this nature.

Collaborating with us will bolster your prospects of securing a favorable resolution to your case. Our profound knowledge, extensive experience, and adeptness at tailoring defense strategies to your particular circumstances can profoundly influence the outcome of your legal proceedings.

We are ready to help. Contact our team today at 714-766-0965 to schedule a free, no-obligation case assessment. We will evaluate your case's merits and weaknesses and guide you through your legal options. Additionally, we will employ all defense strategies, including negotiating with the prosecutors, to secure the best legal outcome. Should the case proceed to trial, trust that we will use the best defense strategy.