What Happens if You’re Caught With Heroin in your Possession in California

What Happens if You're Caught With Heroin in your Possession in California

California lawmakers have adopted a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to heroin. It doesn’t matter if you transporting it, using it, dealing it, or anything else, getting caught with heroin is a serious offense. 

California has a number of specific laws that pertain to heroin. They include:

• Possession for personal use
• Possession with the intent to sell
• Driving under the influence of heroin
• Being caught under the influence of heroin

 
The state is so serious about cracking down on heroin use, charges can even be filed against you if you happen to be near someone who is using or in possession of heroin.

The majority of the heroin cases that make their way through the California legal system are cases that deal with the simple possession of heroin. Simply having heroin in a pocket or stored in your car is a violation of HS 11350. This is a misdemeanor offense. The good news is that if you’re convicted, the amount of time you spend in jail isn’t terribly long, the maximum sentence is a year in a county jail. The bad news is that the conviction could come as a serious financial blow, with a maximum fine of $20,000.

Many people who are caught with simple possession of heroin opt to take part in California’s drug diversion program.

If you are convicted of possession with the intent to sell heroin, you’re guilty of violating Health and Safety Code 11351 HS. This is a felony conviction. The sentencing includes 2-4 years in a California state prison and a fine as large as $20,000.

The amount of heroin you have on you at the time of your arrest will also play a huge role in how serious the sentence is. If you have more than one kilogram of heroin on you when you are arrested, the judge will take the original sentence they’ve issued and add anywhere from 3-25 years to the amount of time you have to serve in prison. The $20,000 fine could also be increased to several hundred thousand of dollars.

Any heroin arrest that involves the intent to sell automatically disqualifies you from the drug diversion program.

But what if you’re not using heroin but simply happen to be hanging out with someone who is? If you know that they are using heroin while you’re with them, you can be charged with breaking Health & Safety Code 11365 HS. While this isn’t a good charge, it’s not nearly as serious as being in actual possession of heroin. If convicted, you’ll have a misdemeanor charge added to your record and could be potentially sentenced to 6 months in a county jail.

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