Two Categories for the crime of Possession

California state laws include two broad categories for crimes of drug possession: simple possession and possession with the intent to sell. The California Health and Safety Code also separates offenses related to marijuana from controlled substances formerly classified under state law as narcotics or “restricted dangerous drugs”. California law also establishes separate offenses related to phencyclidine (PCP) and methamphetamine.

Simple Possession of Marijuana

Simple possession of less than 28.5 grams (one ounce) of marijuana is an infraction similar to a traffic ticket in California. The fine for possession of less than 28.5 grams of marijuana is $100, but penalty assessments can increase this significantly. This means, in effect, that the consequences of getting caught with a moderate amount of pot are no greater than if you were to receive a minor traffic citation. Like other infractions, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana cannot be punished by a jail term. If the offender was younger than 18 years of age, then the offense is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $250 for the first offense and a fine up to $500 or commitment to a detention center for up to 10 days.

Possessing more than 28.5 grams of marijuana

Possessing more than 28.5 grams of marijuana can result in misdemeanor conviction and subject the person to up to six months in county jail and a five hundred dollar fine ($500). However, possessing more than 28.5 grams of marijuana can be an indication that there was an intention to sell. A prosecutor may charge a defendant with “possession for sale” or “purchase for the purpose of sale” if the state believes that the defendant intended to engage in drug dealing. This will subject the defendant to a felony conviction and up to three years in state prison. If you are under the age of 21, any drug conviction, including a conviction relating to marijuana, will result in a one-year California driver’s license suspension.

Daniel R. Perlman
The Law Offices of Daniel R. Perlman