A 23-year-old Spring Valley man is facing multiple criminal charges for, among other things, being under the influence of a controlled substance. According to reports, police were called when the man allegedly threatened several gas station customers with a knife. The man was promptly detained by police when they arrived on the scene. Narcotics and drug paraphernalia were found in his possession. He was placed under arrest, handcuffed, and seated in the back of a police cruiser.
While police officers were investigating, the man was able to slip his handcuffs and get out of the vehicle. He and an officer began to get into a physical struggle. During the struggle, the man bit the officer on the arm and attempted to reach for his gun. Officers were able to regain control of the situation and transport the man to the San Diego Central Jail.
It’s a Crime to Be Under the Influence of a Drug
In California, it’s a crime to possess, sell, buy, transport, or manufacture a controlled substance. You may also be surprised to learn that it’s also illegal to use and be under the influence of a controlled substance.
California Health & Safety Code 11550 HSC prohibits the use of a controlled substance. Specifically, you can be arrested and charged with a crime if you:
- Willfully used a controlled substance or narcotic drug, or
- Were under the influence of a controlled substance or narcotic drug.
It’s only a crime to be under the influence of a controlled substance if you willfully ingested or used the drug. In other words, you can’t be guilty under 11550 HSC if you were involuntarily intoxicated. You must have intentionally and purposefully consumed and used the drug.
11550 HSC prohibits the willful use of controlled substances and/or narcotic drugs without a lawful purpose. This includes both legal prescription and illegal substances. However, this law does not apply to the willful use of marijuana. Drugs that can trigger criminal liability under 11550 HSC include, but are not limited to:
- Angel dust, and
Again, it can also be a crime to be under the influence of a prescription medication if you don’t have a valid prescription.
Using a Drug
What does it mean to “use” a drug? It depends. The term has been defined to mean “current” or “immediately prior to the arrest.” In some cases, this can include drug use as many as five days before an arrest.
Whether or not you have “used” a drug in violation of 11550 HSC is an issue of fact that will ultimately be up to a judge or jury. Use often hinges on whether or not you have entered withdrawal from the drug. If you are in withdrawal, use of the drug will not be considered immediate or current. If you are not in withdrawal, use of the drug may be considered immediate or current in violation of the law.
Under the Influence
You can also be convicted under 11550 HSC if you are unlawfully under the influence of a controlled substance or narcotic drug. California law explains that you will be considered to be under the influence if you’ve taken or used a controlled substance that has:
- “Appreciably affected your nervous system, brain, or muscles;” or
- “Created a detectable abnormal mental or physical condition.”
In other words, you can be considered to be under the influence of a controlled substance has had any detectable effect on your physical or mental abilities.
How Can I Defend Myself If I’m Charged Under 11550 HSC?
The state has the burden of proving that you broke the law. You have the right to defend yourself. A strong defense will make it difficult for the state to satisfy its burden of proof. If you’re accused of using or being under the influence of a controlled substance, you may want to argue:
- You were tired, sick, or distracted
- You have a lawful prescription
- You did not use the drug voluntarily, or
- Your Constitutional rights have been violated.
What Are the Penalties for Being Under the Influence of a Drug?
A violation of 11550 HSC is a misdemeanor offense. If you are convicted of this drug crime, you will face a minimum of 90 days, but no more than 12 months, in a San Diego County Jail. In addition to jail time, a court may also require you to complete drug counseling and rehabilitation, perform community service, and pass random drug tests.
Have you been arrested for using or being under the influence of a drug? Contact the Law Office of Vikas Bajaj for assistance. Our criminal defense attorneys are here to help you fight to protect your future. Your first consultation is free, so call for help today.