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What Are the Penalties for Cocaine Possession in California?

Among drug possession crimes, cocaine possession is punished severely. While California has seen activism with the goal of drug and sentencing reform, police in California continue to take an aggressive stance against cocaine possession. This blog post will help you better understand just how serious cocaine possession is in California by explaining the different potential punishments for it. Read on so that you understand what you may be facing if you were charged with cocaine possession. If that is your situation, you would put yourself in a strong position to succeed in your case by contacting a Tehama County drug crimes lawyer today.

Cocaine Possession in the California Legal System

Possessing cocaine by itself is a misdemeanor crime in California under Prop 47. Proposition 47 was passed in 2014 and reclassified several felonies as misdemeanors. As a result, you may go to jail for cocaine possession. Typically, for the first conviction of cocaine possession, the longest you can be sent to jail is one year and the highest fine you can be charged is $1000.

Before Prop 47, cocaine possession was considered a “wobbler” in California law. “Wobblers” are felony crimes that, in specific situations, might be reduced to a misdemeanor. People could be sentenced to 16 months to three years for a possession wobbler charge.

That said, it’s not common to be sent to jail for a first offense of cocaine possession. Additionally, if you’ve never been charged with a drug crime before or if you haven’t been charged with anything in a longer span of time, you might be able to participate in relief programs under Proposition 36, like probation instead of jail time, access to a drug court, or a deferred judgment. If you were charged for cocaine possession as a felony, you may now be able to get a retroactive sentence reduction as well as be eligible for an expungement. If your felony possession conviction is expunged, it will be removed from your record and no notification of it will be sent to potential employers.

On the other hand, a charge of possession with intent to distribute brings with it heavier penalties. You may face up to five years in jail. Similarly, if you have been convicted of some serious offenses like murder or a sex crime that resulted in you registering as a sex offender, then your charge of possession will be prosecuted as a felony. The punishment for felony cocaine possession jumps up to possible jail time of 16 months to three years and possible fines of up to $10,000.