California marijuana laws have changed dramatically in recent years. Now, residents of Orange County can legally obtain a prescription for medical marijuana use. Individuals with a medical marijuana card may possess up to eight ounces of dried cannabis. Furthermore, the courts have shifted in recent years to avoid harsh punishment for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana. Many defendants are able to avoid a sentence and heavy fines with the help of an Orange County criminal defense attorney.
A conviction for simple marijuana possession typically results in a fine of $100. Defendants under the age of 21 may also face a yearlong license suspension. However, each case is different and there are still severe punishments that can result from marijuana-related convictions. Individuals who possess over an ounce may face misdemeanor penalties that include jail time or mandatory participation in a deferred entry of judgment program.
Possession charges can be fought in a number of ways. Depending upon the circumstances of the case, the defense may include proving:
- The defendant had no knowledge of the drugs. A conviction can only result from willful possession.
- The drugs were seized illegally. If the arresting officer violated the rights of the defendant during the search and seizure, they will have to dismiss evidence.
- The defendant did not possess drugs. Sometimes drugs like marijuana can look like other substances. It will be necessary to run lab tests on the evidence to determine if the defendant actually possessed an illegal drug.
Depending on the amount of marijuana in your possession, the prosecution may charge you with possession with intent to sell. Success in defending charges for possession with intent to sell often hinges on persuading the court that the drugs were for personal use only.
Cultivating marijuana under California Penal Code Section 11358 is another serious crime that can result in jail or prison time. Anyone found in possession of marijuana plants and cultivating paraphernalia would be well advised to consider their legal options. They may qualify for a deferment program to avoid incarceration or it may be possible to fight the charges with the help of an Orange County drug crime defense attorney.