Have you been charged with possession of methamphetamine? At the Law Office of Vikas Bajaj, APC, we have over 19 years of experience handling drug crime allegations throughout San Diego. Call us for an initial consultation.
Methamphetamine goes by a number of names—Crank, Speed, Crystal Meth, Ice, Shards, Tina, Glass and Go. Whatever the name, methamphetamine is an “upper,” like cocaine, causing an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, a feeling of greater alertness and stamina, increased levels of talking (although the words may not make sense to others), and a decrease in hunger, thirst, and the need for sleep.
Crank is known as the cheapest, and least processed methamphetamine, and can be a dull-brown color, sometimes with black flecks. The most sought-after form of methamphetamine is a crystal color, which looks like long, thin shards of broken glass.
These crystals may be swallowed, smoked, crushed and snorted, or even dissolved in a liquid prior to swallowing. Prior to the November 2014, most methamphetamine arrests were charged as “wobblers,” which means the prosecutor had the discretion to charge the crime as a misdemeanor or as a felony. Since the new law took effect, a person found with methamphetamine can only be charged with a misdemeanor crime, except under certain circumstances.
How a Prosecutor Can Prove You Violated Section 11377
As per California Health and Safety Code §11377, the prosecutor in your case must show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you had in your possession a substance which contained methamphetamine. Additionally, the prosecutor must show you were aware you had methamphetamine on your person, in your car or in your home, that you were aware methamphetamine is considered a controlled substance in the state of California, and that you possessed a “usable amount” of the drug.
This means that if someone left methamphetamine in your home, car or coat pocket, and you were unaware of the existence of the drug, you could not be found guilty of violating Section 11377. Likewise, if you were unaware the substance in your possession was methamphetamine and that it was a controlled substance, you could not be found guilty of violating California law. The “usable amount” part of Section 11377 protects those who are found with only trace amounts of the drug on their person. “Usable” in this context, does not necessarily mean enough to get you high, rather the amount must be “enough to use.” Remember, Section 11377 applies to simple possession only. Proposition 47 did not affect charges for selling drugs, including methamphetamine.
There are three different types of drug possession:
- Actual possession means the drugs were either on your person, in your car or home, and that you “exercised direct physical control” of the drug.
- Constructive possession means whether the drug was actually in your possession or not, you had the right to control it. As an example, suppose you gave your methamphetamine to another person, asking them to hold the drug until you returned. This is constructive possession.
- Joint possession means that two or more people possessed the methamphetamine at the same time—as an example, suppose you and your friend(s) purchased the methamphetamine jointly, intending to share the drug.
Prior to the passage of Proposition 11377, possession of methamphetamine could be charged as a felony, resulting in a prison sentence. Under California’s current laws, methamphetamine possession is generally charged as a misdemeanor crime, with a maximum sentence of a year in a San Diego County jail. If you have a conviction for a prior felony offense, or are required to register as a sex offender, possession of methamphetamine may still be charged as a felony.
California Drug Court
Under Proposition 47, if you are charged with possession of methamphetamine, you could be eligible for a drug diversion program—treatment rather than incarceration. Such a diversion program could result in the necessity of obtaining drug treatment, counseling, educational classes, or all of these.
In many cases, if your charges for methamphetamine possession are your first offenses, a diversion program can allow you to provide proof of your drug diversion participation, then have your charges dismissed. This is an important distinction—even though you might “only” receive a misdemeanor conviction, that criminal conviction could prevent you from getting a job you are otherwise well-qualified for, enlist in the military, apply for a professional license, receive a government student loan or even rent a home.
Potential Defenses for Your San Diego Methamphetamine Charges
Of course, the specific defense employed on your behalf by your San Diego criminal defense attorney will be based on the circumstances surrounding your arrest. Your attorney might, however, use one of the following defenses:
- You possessed a valid prescription for the drug;
- You were unaware of the existence of the drug (someone left or planted the methamphetamine on your clothing, in your vehicle, or in your home);
- You were handed the drug, and were unaware it was a controlled substance;
- The witness claiming the rug is yours, is lying to protect him or herself;
- You were attempting to buy methamphetamine, but you did not complete the sale;
- The substance was not methamphetamine, or any other controlled substance;
- You did not possess a usable amount of the methamphetamine;
- The police made procedural mistakes during your arrest, or
- The evidence against you was obtained through an illegal search or seizure.
If you are facing methamphetamine charges in San Diego, it is important that you contact an experienced San Diego criminal defense attorney who can ensure your rights are protected, and that you have as positive an outcome to your charges as possible.