Drug Possession

Health and Safety Code §§11350-11356.5 set forth California’s drug possession laws. The law prohibits possession of controlled substances unless prescribed by a licensed physician or other medical provider. Controlled substances include, but are not limited to, marijuana, cocaine, codeine, oxycodone, and date rape drugs, e.g. Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB) and Ketamine. Also prohibited are certain chemicals or ingredients used to make narcotics, and paraphernalia, such as syringes or pipes.

Possession can be actual or constructive. Actual possession means physically having the controlled substance, e.g. in your hand or in your pocket. Constructive possession means an area within your control, e.g. your car or home.

Federal drug possession laws are substantially similar to California’s. Under the federal Controlled Substance Act, it is “unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally—to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, or possess with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, a controlled substance.” 21 U.S. Code §§ 841, 844. Possession generally rises to a federal violation with an intent to distribute, which turns on the amount of drugs possessed.


A defendant convicted of possession under federal or California laws may be sentenced to years of imprisonment and/or substantial fines. More severe penalties can be imposed for specific drugs such as cocaine, an amount demonstrating intent to sell, selling to a minor, selling near a school, and any prior convictions.

Our experienced Fresno drug possession attorneys will discuss sentencing with you, including other potential alternatives, like rehabilitation.

Defending Possession Charges and the 4th Amendment

Consult with a attorney to strategize defenses to drug possession charges. One of the most effective legal strategies is to suppress the evidence altogether under the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Under the 4th Amendment, you have a right to be free from warrantless government intrusion of your person and property. When the government intrudes, or searches, an area where you have an expectation of privacy, such as your pockets, and does so without a valid warrant or exception to the warrant requirement, then the evidence must be excluded and not used against you.

Criminal Defense for Fresno Drug Crimes

Please contact our office to discuss how this powerful constitutional right may lead to an acquittal of drug possession. Call (559) 374-2012 for you free consultation!