Drug crimes in California can range from drug possession to the selling, distribution, and manufacturing of drugs. If you have been arrested and charged with a drug crime, you need to seek the help of a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney immediately to determine the best defense strategy. You can get the help you need by consulting me, Zachary McCready, at the McCready Law Group, a drug sales attorney serving Orange County, Lakewood, Huntington Beach, Long Beach, Irvine, CA, and the surrounding areas.

Penalties for Drug Crimes in California

State and federal laws are used to regulate controlled substances in the United States. In California, an enormous amount of manpower and resources are dedicated to combating the possession, selling, distributing, and manufacturing of illegal controlled substances. As a result, offenders often face minor or major penalties that can range from simple fines to significant jail time if convicted. Below are the penalties for different drug crimes in California.

Drug Possession – Possession of a Controlled Substance

Under California Health & Safety Code 11350 HSC, possession of a controlled substance listed in Section 11054 is considered illegal. Such controlled substances include:

  • Heroin, crack, ecstasy, ketamine, opium derivatives, and other Schedule I opioids

  • Peyote, mescaline, and synthetic cannabis

  • Cocaine base

  • Schedule II opiates and narcotics

  • Schedule III hallucinogens

It is also deemed illegal to be in possession of prescription drugs like codeine or Vicodin, and Schedule III, IV, or V controlled substances unless it has been lawfully prescribed by a dentist, physician, veterinarian, or podiatrist who is licensed to practice within the state of California.

If convicted, offenders may be eligible for a diversion program. Fortunately, with Proposition 47, the charges can be reduced from a felony offense to a misdemeanor. In addition, offenders may have to face up to a year of incarceration and/or pay a fine of up to $1,000. There may also be probation or parole and random drug testing.

Furthermore, possession of controlled substances near a school or selling to minors attracts even stricter penalties. Under California law, the offender can be charged with a felony, and penalties can range between three to five years of jail time.



Possession With Intent to Sell

Under California Health & Safety Code 11351 HSC, it is considered a felony offense to possess or purchase a controlled substance with the intent to sell. The California drug laws for possession with intent to sell apply to the following controlled substances:

  • Heroin

  • Morphine

  • Oxycodone

  • Codeine

  • Certain hallucinogens (LSD, peyote, and mescaline)

  • Fentanyl

  • GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyric)

  • Depressants (DMT or Quaaludes)

  • Hydrocodone

  • Cocaine

Circumstantial Evidence: The circumstantial evidence of possession with intent to sell include having:

  • A large quantity of a controlled substance in your possession that exceeds a reasonable amount deemed for personal consumption.

  • Drugs packaged in separate dosages or baggies.

  • Scales for weighing drugs in your possession.

  • A large amount of cash in your possession.

If convicted, the offender may face up to two to four years of jail time and fines of up to $20,000. Also, if you are charged with possession for sale, you will be eligible for a drug diversion program.

Drug Sales Attorney

Selling, Distributing, & Manufacturing Drugs, Drug Sales Attorney

California's drug distribution laws consider the sale, transfer, transport, and import of controlled substances as an illegal offense. However, adults older than 21 years are allowed to transport up to 28g of marijuana. Transporting, distributing, or selling controlled substances is a felony punishable by three to five years of jail time. If the controlled substance is transported from one California county to a non-contiguous county, the offender may be facing increased sentencing of three to nine years in prison. There are also additional punishments for selling controlled substances near schools or to minors.

Methamphetamine in California

Another major drug threat in California is the possession and sale of Methamphetamine. Because of this, penalties related to the possession, distribution, or intent to sell meth are often severe.

Under California Health and Safety Code 11377 HSC, simple possession of meth for personal use is considered a misdemeanor offense. If convicted, the offender may be required to pay a fine of up to $1,000 and/or serve up to a year in prison.

Under California Health and Safety Code 11378 HSC, the possession of meth with intent to sell is a felony punishable by up to three years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.

While an individual found with less than an ounce of marijuana may be facing misdemeanor penalties, a person found operating a methamphetamine lab is likely to face felony charges and several years behind bars.

Why You Need an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

The state of California dedicates massive resources toward fighting the war on drugs. The penalties for drug crimes can often be quite harsh, and if convicted, you could be facing several years of jail time and fines that exceed tens of thousands of dollars. These consequences also have the ability to affect your livelihood and your reputation. If you are facing drug charges in California, it’s crucial that you contact a skilled criminal defense attorney to help you navigate your charges and protect your rights.

Call my firm, the McCready Law Group, today to schedule a consultation and speak with an experienced drug crimes attorney. I will fight aggressively on your behalf to protect your rights and keep your record clean. I will review your case and determine the best defense strategy to help you move forward. My goal will always be to fight to get your charges dropped, reduced, or offer an alternative sentencing measure in lieu of jail time.


Being arrested or investigated for a drug crime can be terrifying. The good news is, you don't have to go through this experience alone. At McCready Law Group, you can work with an attorney who has helped individuals overcome a variety of different drug charges. If you have been arrested or charged with a drug-related crime in Cypress Hill, Lakewood, and Long Beach, California, call my firm immediately. I will review every aspect of your case and build the best defense strategy.

Proudly serving Long Beach, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Lakewood, Orange County, CA, and the surrounding areas, including Santa Ana and Fountain Valley. Criminal Defense and White Collar Crime Lawyer in Orange County, Domestic Violence and Manslaughter Lawyer in Orange County.