In California, the possession of Cannabis or hashish (concentrated Marijuana) has been Made illegal under certain conditions under the Health and safety code (HSC §§11357(a) – (d)). Violating this statute can have some negative impacts on your life. For instance, if you are below eighteen years old and found with less than eight grams of concentrated Marijuana or less than 28.5 grams of Cannabis, you will be punished with twenty hours of community service or six hours of counselling. And if you are in the age bracket of 18 to 21, you will be asked to pay a fine of up to $100. However, suppose you are below 18 years and found in possession of more than 28.5 grams of Marijuana or 8 grams of hashish. In that case, you are charged with violation of section 11357, and you face sixty hours of community service and ten hours of counselling. If you are above 18 years, violating section 11357 can lead to a fine of $500 or imprisonment in the county jail for six months. At times, you can be charged with both imprisonment and a fine.
Also, if you are found in possession of more than 8 grams of concentrated Cannabis, or 28.5 grams of Marijuana, in the school perimeter during school hours, and have a similar previous conviction or you are eighteen years and above, you will face a $500 fine. You can also spend ten days in county jail or face both imprisonment and fine. Possession of Marijuana has severe consequences that can significantly affect your life. It is essential to contact an experienced drug crime attorney like the Riverside Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm following your arrest to help you fight for justice and offer suitable solutions.
What Does Possession of Marijuana Prohibit Under Safety Code HSC §§11357
For you to be found guilty of possession of Cannabis, the prosecutor must prove the following:
- You were unlawfully in possession of hashish or Cannabis; and
- You were aware you had the drug; and
- You had the knowledge that the substance was controlled; and
- The substance weighed more than the required 28.5 grams and 5 grams of hashish.
Explaining the Possession of Marijuana Under Safety Code HSC §§11357?
For you to be convicted of the possession of Marijuana under HSC §§11357 (a & b), the prosecutor must beyond reasonable doubt prove that:
- You unlawfully possessed: You were unlawfully in possession of a controlled substance.
- You knew.../presence: You were aware that you had a controlled substance; and
- You Knew../Character/Nature: You were fully aware of the nature of the substance or the controlled substance characters.
- Concentrate Marijuana…./ Cannabis: The controlled drug that you possessed was Cannabis or concentrated marijuana.
- The prohibited Quantity: You had Cannabis or concentrated Marijuana in a quantity that is prohibited.
If your possession of Marijuana is authorized under the Medical Marijuana Program Act or Compassionate Use Act, you have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the possession was lawful.
Although Marijuana has been legalized in California, it is still illegal for people under twenty-one to use or even have the drug.
To be convicted of the possession of Cannabis on School Grounds for Persons above 18 years, the prosecutor has to beyond reasonable doubt prove that:
- You Unlawfully possessed: You had a controlled substance unlawfully; and,
- You were Aware…/Presence: You were aware that you had a controlled substance; and,
- You were Aware …/Character/ Nature: You were aware of the nature or character of the controlled substance; and,
- Concentrated Marijuana../ Cannabis: The drug you had was concentrated Marijuana or Cannabis; and,
- Prohibited Amount: The amount of concentrated Marijuana or Cannabis was an amount exceeding what is allowed under the statute; and,
- Upon the school Grounds: You were in any education institution offering kindergarten and any grade 1 to 12 during school hours, and the institution was open for school programs or classes.; and,
- You were above 18 years: You were above eighteen years at that time.
You can only be charged if you are found with a usable amount of the controlled substance. But the usable amount does not have to be enough to affect a user. Debris and traces are not usable in this case.
To be convicted for the possession of Marijuana on School Grounds, Below 18 Years Under HSC §§11357, the prosecutor must beyond reasonable doubt prove that:
- You were unlawfully in possession: You had a controlled substance unlawfully; and,
- You were aware of its presence: You knew that you had the controlled substance; and,
- You were aware of its character or nature: You were fully aware of the controlled substance’s character or nature; and,
- Concentrated cannabis/ Marijuana: You were indeed in possession of concentrated Cannabis or Marijuana.
- Prohibited Amount: The amount of concentrated Cannabis or Marijuana you possessed exceeded the quality stated in the statute; and,
- On School Grounds: You were in the school parameter/ any institution offering education to minors during school hours; and,
- You were below 18 years: At the time, you were below 18 years of age.
Penalties Under HSC §§11357(A) – (D) For the Possession of Marijuana
First Offense of Possession of Marijuana (HSC 11357(A))
Suppose you violate this statute for the first time by having not more than 8 grams of concentrated Cannabis and 28.5 grams of Marijuana, and you are under eighteen years. In that case, you will receive counselling four hours a day for sixty days and 10 hours of community service every day. You can also do six hours of counselling and twenty hours of community service for 90 days following several offences.
If you are above eighteen years but no more than twenty-one years, you can be fined $100.
Marijuana Possession (HSC 11357(b))
When you are found in possession of Marijuana that weighs more than 28.5 grams or 8 grams of concentrated Cannabis, and you are under 18 years, you can face 40 hours of community service and eight hours of counselling for 90 days. If it is not your first conviction, you can face 10 hours of counselling and sixty hours of community service, and you must complete it within 120 days.
If you are above 18 years and you are found in possession of more than the quantity stated in the statute can have you imprisoned for six months at the county jail or be fined $500, or you could face both imprisonment and fine.
Marijuana Possession on School Grounds for Persons above 18 years, (HSC (11357(c))
Suppose you are found to possess more than the required quantity on school grounds when learning is ongoing, but you do not have a similar previous conviction. In that case, you can be fined $250, but if you have a prior conviction on the same, you can be fined $500 or ten days imprisonment in the county jail, or you can face both the fine and the imprisonment.
Marijuana Possession on School Grounds For Under 18 Persons (11357(D)
Suppose you are found in possession of Marijuana of more than 28.5 or hashish of more than 8 grams on the school grounds, and you are under eighteen years, and this is your first conviction for this type of crime. In that case, you can face up to 40 hours of community service and eight hours of counselling within 90 days. If it is a subsequent conviction, you can face 60 hours of community service and 10 hours of counselling and must be done within 120 days.
Defences Involved with Possession of Cannabis Under HSC 11357
There are four significant defences against possession of marijuana charges. They include:
The Cannabis Was not Yours.
For instance, Anne, who is 15 years old, attends a festival with her friend. While at the venue, her friend starts smoking Cannabis. The friend remembers that he forgot his phone in the vehicle and gives Anne the Cannabis to hold for him as he gets his phone. While the friend is away, police approach Anne and notices that she has Marijuana and asks for her identification. The officers learn that Anne is a minor, and they arrest her for violation (HSC 11357(a)). What will happen to Anne?
Conclusion: Anne possessed a controlled substance (it's pretty obvious that Marijuana is a controlled substance). She was also aware that she had the joint when the police came to her. And since she is 15 years, she is not allowed by the law to have Marijuana, not even the smallest amount. These could all be used for her conviction but, the fact remains that the joint was not hers but her friends. If Anne finds an experienced and skilled attorney, they could argue transitory possession, and Anne could be acquitted.
You were not aware that You had Marijuana.
For example, Charles is invited by his friend to a party. They get hungry, and since his friends are intoxicated, Charles decides to rush for food with his friend's car. The friend fails to inform him that he has a warrant arrest for failing to pay for parking. The police pull over Charles, and they tell him about the warrant. The officers then request to search in the vehicle only to find 10 ounces of Marijuana. Charles is arrested for violating (HSC 11357(a). What will happen to Charles?
Conclusion: Charles had Marijuana, but he wasn't aware. As an eighteen-year-old, this possession is unlawful in California. From most perspectives, Charles is guilty and risks being convicted, but he was not driving his car, and it is possible that he had no idea there was Marijuana in his friend's car. If Charles finds an experienced lawyer, they could use reasonable arguments, and Charles should be acquitted.
You were not in Possession of Marijuana
For instance: Joseph, a twenty-two-year-old, has been previously convicted for selling Marijuana. He continues to do so, but this time he decides to produce a marijuana imitation with dried houseplant incense. Joseph takes his marijuana imitation and starts selling it on the street, and undercover police overhear him saying he is selling Marijuana and arrests him for violating it (HSC 11357(A)). Will Joseph be charged?
Conclusion: In an actual sense, Joseph intended on misrepresenting that he was selling Marijuana, but it was not real Marijuana; thus, the charge is missing the offence. For Joseph to be convicted, the prosecution must prove that what he possessed was Marijuana. Joseph needs to find a skilled drug defence attorney to raise the issue and challenge the trial to test the products used in manufacturing what Joseph was selling.
You were A Victim of An Illegal Search
For example, Cassie, a sixteen-year-old, is walking home, and since it's cold, she puts her hands in her jacket pocket, and something in the store near her catches her eyes, and she gazes at it. A motorcycle officer becomes suspicious and stops Cassie telling her that he suspected her of being a thief. Upon searching her, the police find 12 grams of Marijuana in her pockets. The police charge Cassie as a first time offender for the violation of (HSC 11357(A)). Cassie is confused about why she was stopped while she was one block away from her house. So what will happen to Cassie?
Conclusion: Although there are instances where the police have the right to stop and search a person, that power does not apply in this case. The arresting officer's observations before arresting a person should be reasonable and relevant to the arrest. An experienced attorney should be able to argue that the search was illegal in the first place and the Marijuana that was found with Cassie was obtained during an unlawful search. Hence Cassie should not be convicted because she was a victim of an unconstitutional search.
Medical Marijuana(“The Compassionate Act”)
California legalized the use of Marijuana in 1996 when voters passed proposition 215 ("The Compassionate Use Act"). Proposition 215 was then modified under the (Health and Safety Code 11362.5).
This proposition legalizes the use of Marijuana for medical use or with an authorized doctor's recommendation. Doctors are only allowed to recommend to patients with severe health conditions. After the doctor's recommendation, you can apply for a marijuana identification card issued by your county health department. The identification card legalizes you to possess, use, cultivate or transport Cannabis. But this does not allow you to give away or sell Marijuana. You are only authorised to possess it for your personal use.
Below are some of the crimes that are associated with possession of Marijuana like planting, employment of a minor to sell Cannabis, Offering to sell, among others:
Under (HSC 11358), it is illegal to process, dye, plant, cultivate, or harvest any part of the cannabis plant. In the statute, Cannabis is defined as all parts of the cannabis Sativa plant. Regardless of whether it is planted or not, including resins and seeds from the plant. This also includes the Manufacturing of every compound.
This type of crime is considered a wobbler since the planting of Marijuana can be punished as a felony or misdemeanour. You are likely to be prosecuted with a felony for violating the statute in three different ways or if you have been convicted for sex crimes before.
This section can also be punished using the system of the “Three Strike”. You will be imprisoned for at least 25 years in state prison if you get the “three strikes”.
Below are some of the penalties you are likely to face when you are convicted for planting Marijuana:
- Imprisonment in state prison for three years, and,
- A $10,000 fine, or
- Both; 3 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Marijuana Possession for Sale
Under HSC 11359, marijuana possession for sale happens when a person possesses Marijuana unlawfully for sale. In this case, selling means exchanging Cannabis for anything for value, services, or money.
In California, marijuana selling can be prosecuted as a felony or misdemeanour; hence this crime can be considered a "wobbler" based on the facts surrounding it. You are likely to be charged with a felony if you have violated the statute in more than three ways, or if you have hired a minor below twenty years to help you with the distribution of Marijuana, if you have been convicted for sex crimes before, or attempting to sell, or selling to minors below eighteen years.
Violation of HSC 11359 is also punishable under "Three Strikes". You will be imprisoned in state prison for 25 years if you get the "Three Strikes". You are likely to face the following charges if you are convicted for selling Marijuana:
- Imprisonment in state prison for three years or
- Pay a fine of $10,000, or
Offering to Furnish, Sell Marijuana
Under (HSC 11360(A)), it is a crime to offer to furnish, sell, etc.., Marijuana. This involves any marijuana giveaway, importing, transporting, offering to give away, furnishing, or selling of Marijuana.
Like the above cases, offering to furnish or sell Marijuana is punishable as a felony or misdemeanour. It can be considered a "wobbler" based on the facts of your case in California.
You are likely to receive a felony if you violate the statute in three or more ways, have been convicted for a sex crime before, attempting to sell or selling Marijuana to a minor below 18 years, trying to import more than four grams of concentrated Cannabis or more than 28.5 grams of bhang.
Violation of this section also falls under the "Three Strikes". You are likely to be imprisoned in state prison for 25 years if you receive the "Three Strike". If you have been convicted for offering to furnish and sell Cannabis (without any other enhancement), You are likely to face:
- Imprisonment in state prison for three years, or
- A $10,000 fine, or,
Employment of Minors to Sell Marijuana
Under (HSC 11361(A)), it is a crime to employ, hire, or use a minor to give away, transport marijuana or prepare it for sale. In this case, not only a minor below eighteen years, even an older person. The law also warns against inducing a minor to Marijuana. Below are some of the punishments you are likely to face if you are convicted of employing a minor to sell Cannabis:
- Imprisonment of 7 years in state prison, or
- A $10,000 fine, or
Employment of Minors to Sell Marijuana- California Criminal Jury Requirements
For you to be convicted under (HSC 11361(a)), the prosecutor must beyond reasonable doubt prove that:
- You used, employed or hired someone to sell, prepare for sale, transport, peddle, give away Marijuana.
- You were above eighteen but employed/hired a minor below 18 years
- You were aware that Cannabis is a controlled substance.
Driving with an Open Marijuana Container
Under( HSC 23222(b)), it is a crime to drive any receptacle with marijuana products, or Marijuana itself as described in (HSC 11018.1), which has a broken seal, is open, cannabis flower which is loose and not in a container. You are likely to pay a $100 fine if you are caught driving with an open marijuana container.
Driving With an Open Marijuana Container – California Criminal Jury Guidelines
For you to be convicted under (CVC 23222(b)), the prosecutor must beyond reasonable doubt prove that:
- You were personally in possession of a receptacle with Cannabis or marijuana products.
- The container was not sealed, or it had a broken seal or
- There was a loose marijuana flower, not enclosed in a container, and
- You were driving the motor vehicle.
Find a Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
In California, drug crimes are handled as severe offences and could significantly impact your life. It is essential to reach out to a dedicated and skilled criminal defense attorney if you have been charged with the possession of Marijuana. Our attorneys at Riverside Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm are well-versed with California's criminal justice system. They are willing to analyze your case and develop a defense strategy that will enable you to get the justice you deserve. Call us today at 951-946-6366 for a free consultation.