California drug laws have changed quite a lot in the past five years, with the advent of legal recreational marijuana and Proposition 47’s lowering of many drug possession penalties. Still, it would be a mistake to think that prosecutors do not take drug possession charges seriously.

Possession of many types of drugs other than marijuana can still carry hefty penalties, and possession of more than a certain amount of marijuana is still against the law. Possession of more than 28.5 grams of marijuana can carry a penalty of up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $500.

Possession charges can also easily turn into something worse. A person found in possession of a certain amount of illegal drugs can be charged with intent to distribute. California law generally refers to this type of charge as “possession for sale” or “purchase for the purpose of sale.”

Courts can also look to aggravating factors in a case. For instance, they may consider previous convictions against the defendant when deciding on a penalty for a new conviction.

It’s also important to remember that marijuana remains a Schedule 1 illegal drug under federal law. Federal prosecutors may try to enforce this law even in California.

Everyone who is accused of a crime deserves a defense. Those who are accused of drug possession should talk to a lawyer as soon as possible in order to protect their freedom and find ways to try to prevent the charges from turning into something worse.