Possession of a Controlled Substance

The most common drug crime charged in San Francisco is the simple possession of a controlled substance. The elements of Simple Possession of Controlled Substance that must be proven at trial include:

  • The defendant unlawfully possessed a controlled substance;
  • The defendant knew of the presence of the substance;
  • The defendant knew of the substance’s nature or character as a controlled substance;
  • The substance was either a “controlled substance” under California law or an analog of a controlled substance;and
  • The controlled substance was in a usable amount.

Possession can involve either “actual” or “constructive” possession. In some cases, the prosecutor may attempt to prove that the drugs were possessed jointly.

Attorneys for Drug Possession in San Francisco, CA

The drug crime defense attorneys at Ticket Crushers represent men and women accused of felony drug charges throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. From the charge of simple possession of a controlled substance to more serious charge of drug trafficking, our attorneys have the training and experience to provide an aggressive defense.

We have experience fighting accusations made by DEA, drug narcotics units, and undercover operations throughout San Francisco, CA. Call us to find out more about fighting cases involving an illegal traffic stop, search warrants, undercover sting operations, and the use of confidential informants.

The mistakes that law enforcement officers make in drug crime cases may include:

  • Relying on unreliable confidential informants
  • Misleading a judge in order to obtain a search warrant
  • Entrapping a person not otherwise predisposed to commit the crime
  • Conducting an illegal search or seizure
  • Lying in police reports.

Our attorneys aggressively fight these charges by filing and litigating:

  • Motions to suppress or exclude evidence; or
  • Motions to dismiss for insufficient evidence.

Call the attorneys at Ticket Crushers to discuss any crime involving drugs or narcotics in the City of San Francisco or the surrounding areas throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

Definition of “Controlled Substances” in California

Under California law, most controlled substance are listed in the schedules set forth in Sections 11054 through 11058 of the Health and Safety Code. Some controlled substances are listed in paragraph 4B and the definition of an analog substance below instead of paragraph 4A.

California law provides that in order to prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the prosecutor must prove that the “analog drug” is an analog of a controlled substance. An analog of a controlled substance:

  • Has a chemical structure substantially similar to the structure of a controlled substance, or
  • Has, is represented as having, or is intended to have a stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic effect on the central nervous system substantially similar to or greater than the effect of a controlled substance

A usable amount is a quantity that is enough to be used by someone as a controlled substance. Useless traces or debris are not usable amounts. On the other hand, a usable amount does not have to be enough, in either amount or strength, to affect the user.

In order to prove the crime of possession of a controlled substances, the prosecutor does not need to prove that the defendant knew which specific controlled substance he or she possessed.

California law also provides for joint possession, which means that two or more people may possess something at the same time. Under the theory of “constructive” possession, a person does not have to actually hold or touch something to possess it. It is enough if the person has control over it or the right to control it, either personally or through another person.

Agreeing to buy a controlled substance does not, by itself, mean that a person has control over that substance.

The “Prescription Defense” in California

Under California law, the defendant is not guilty of possessing a controlled substance if he or she had a valid, written prescription for that substance from a physician, dentist, podiatrist, naturopathic doctor, or veterinarian licensed to practice in California.

At trial, the prosecutor has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not have a valid prescription. If the prosecutor does not meet this burden, then the Defendant is not guilty of possessing a controlled substance.

In California, the “prescription defense” is codified in Health and Safety Code Sections 11350 and 11377. However, the prescription defense is not available as a defense to possession of all controlled substances. The defendant need only raise a reasonable doubt about whether his or her possession of the drug was lawful because of a valid prescription. See People v. Mower, 28 Cal.4th 457, 479 (2002).

California law was recently amended in Section 11150 to include a “naturopathic doctor” in the category of those who may furnish or order certain controlled substances.

The standard jury instruction for the crime of simple possession of a controlled substance can be found at Judicial Council Of California Criminal Jury Instruction 2304. The jury instructions for possession of a controlled substance were last revised in August 2015.

Finding Attorneys for Possession of a Controlled Substance

If you were arrested for possession of a controlled substance, then seek out the services of a drug crime attorney in San Francisco, CA. Ticket Crushers fights cases throughout the Bay Area. Call us to discuss your charges and the possible defenses that might apply.

Call Ticket Crushers at 1 (866) 842-5384 today.