Houman Fakhimi

Fighting Drug Charges in California

Each day, thousands of people across the nation are caught and arrested after being found in possession of drugs. Depending on which state the arrest is made determines how serious or dismissive the next hours and days of the arrested person’s life will become. It’s been a few years since residents in the Golden State passed Prop 47, making it easier to fight drug charges in California. But what can one expect if he’s arrested?

Prior to Proposition 47, an arrest in Los Angeles for drug possession would most likely have meant felony charges in California. Today, the charges are misdemeanors in most instances, which means no more than one year in jail, if there is even a jail sentence given.

The charges that have changed as a result of Prop 47 includes:

  • Possession of GHB, also known as the date rape drug
  • Heroin possession
  • Concentrated cannabis
  • Methamphetamine
  • Ecstasy
  • Cocaine
  • Other drugs that would have historically been classified as felony possession if caught.
Past Drug Charges in California

Not only does the new law apply to those arrested after its passage, but for those who were charged in the past and were convinced they had no more options in fighting drug charges can now petition the California courts to have their felony sentences reduced.

There are a few restrictions, though each case is different and weighed on its own merits. If a California prosecutor can prove to a judge that a defendant is a risk to society or if he is a repeat offender – and most certainly if violent crimes are part of his past convictions –there may not be as many options available to the offender. Immediately after passing the law, there were calls to resentence those currently serving time in jail, a move that was expected to result in the release of 10,000 felons between state prisons and local jails. It also meant a savings for taxpayers upwards of $10 million.

Other Drug Charge Repercussions in California

While this may ultimately ensure a charge isn’t placed on one’s record as a felony, fighting drug charges in California is about more than one’s clean criminal record. There are other consequences of a drug conviction of any kind. It can mean missing out on a dream job, losing one’s professional license and it can play a role in other aspects of a person’s life, including immigration status.

It’s important to reach out to a professional who can guide someone who’s facing these life events so that what happens today doesn’t necessarily affect his decisions tomorrow. Whether it’s legal or medical help, it’s available and can make a big difference in quality of life.

That move could save hundreds of millions of dollars in incarceration costs, according to supporters.

“(Jail) doesn’t treat the problem, but it does a couple things,” according to one officer. “It causes the addict to abstain so they may have a chance of breaking their addiction. While the person’s in prison they don’t have an opportunity to steal from folks on the street. The only real way that rehab will work is if the addict wants help.”