Legal Dictionary

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Drug Possession

Possession of illegally controlled substances (illegal drugs) such as cocaine, methamphetamine, ecstasy and heroin is both a federal and state crime. In California, the possession of most controlled substances for personal use is a felony. Misdemeanor charges include marijuana (cannabis) possession, being under the influence of a drug and possession of drug-related items (paraphernalia).

A person can be convicted for possession if drugs even when the drugs are not on his or her person, for example, if the drugs are found in the suspect's car, house or purse.

Possessing illegal drugs with the intent to sell them is a felony in California. Intent to sell can be proven by a variety of evidence, including scales and cutting agents found in the suspect's home and people coming to/going from the home at all hours. How a drug possession crime is charged and punished depends on the type and quantity of the drugs involved, whether the drugs were for personal use or for sale, and if the defendant has a criminal record, especially prior drug convictions.