Despite changing rules regarding certain substances, like marijuana, California still arrests thousands of people every year for drug offenses. Crimes involving controlled substances occur every day, and some of them result in very serious penalties for those who have been accused of wrongdoing.
Simple possession is the least serious of all drug offenses and the charge that people expect to face after an arrest. First-time offenders can sometimes avoid jail time for a minor possession offense. However, one of the three factors below might potentially trigger more serious charges or more substantial penalties for someone who is facing California drug charges.
1. The location of the offense
If someone gets arrested for the possession of narcotics in a drug-free school zone, they will face enhanced penalties. Locations close to parks, swimming pools, daycare centers, churches and other locations frequented by children or families can also trigger enhanced penalties in some cases. Although these laws aim to curtail drug sales targeting young people, the state will still impose enhance penalties even when someone only faces accusations of possession when no child was present or when a transfer of drugs occurred between two adults.
2. The presence of paraphernalia
California prosecutors can potentially bring secondary charges against someone caught with certain kinds of drug paraphernalia. Syringes, pipes with drug residue and other tools used to process, transport or consume drugs can lead to additional charges and therefore additional penalties against those accused of a possession offense.
3. The possession of multiple drugs or a high weight of one drug
Sometimes, prosecutors will pursue possession with intent charges rather than simple possession charges. They alleged that someone intended to traffic the substances to others rather than to use them personally. Those facing accusations of possession with intent could face much more serious charges and therefore more severe consequences should they plead guilty or end up convicted in criminal court.
Other factors, including someone’s criminal record and social circle, can also influence how a prosecutor handles the case against them. Understanding why the state chooses to pursue specific types of drug charges can help those hoping to craft a winning criminal defense strategy in the wake of a recent arrest.