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What qualifies as a drug crime, and what are the penalties?

It is not uncommon to see or hear stories in the news about individuals being arrested on drug charges. What exactly qualifies as a drug crime in California? What are the associated penalties?

There are actually a number of things that are considered drug crimes. These include, but are not limited to, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession, manufacturing and trafficking. While many of these are considered state level crimes, some may be treated as federal offenses. The details of a case will determine at which level the accused will the tried.

A person may be charged with possession of drug paraphernalia if he or she is found to have any equipment that is used to prepare or consume drugs -- such as bongs, syringes and rolling paper. Possession charges will vary based on drug type, amount in possession and intent. For example, the consequences for intent to sell can be far more severe than if the drug is meant for personal use. Finally, producing and distributing an illegal substance can both be considered state and federal crimes. A conviction on any of these offenses can carry penalties such as jail or prison time and the payment of fines.

Even though changes have been made to California laws regarding how certain drug crimes are to be treated in court, those accused of these offenses may still face significant consequences if convicted. A criminal defense attorney can assist one who has been charged with a drug crime achieve an outcome that best benefits his or her specific situation. The road to accomplishing this will certainly be different for everyone, but various defensive options may be utilized depending on the specifics of one's case.

Source: FindLaw, "Types of Drug Crimes", Accessed on Dec. 22, 2015

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Former Criminal Prosecutor With Proven Results