Although possession of a controlled substance is a misdemeanor offense in California, drug possession with intent to sell is a felony crime that carries jail time as well as other legal penalties. Heroin possession is also a felony regardless of intent to sell.

If you are facing criminal drug charges in California, understand the potential penalties you may receive for a conviction.

Personal possession

Possession of a limited amount of controlled substances such as cannabis, cocaine, crack, MDMA and methamphetamine may result in community service and fines of up to $1,000. Depending on the type of substance and the exact amount, the court could sentence you to up to one year in jail.

Intent to sell controlled substances

Possession of a significant amount of a drug or other evidence that you sold or intended to sell the substance results in enhanced penalties. Possession of paraphernalia, weapons and/or packaging materials can all contribute to charges of intent to sell.

Heroin, MDMA and cocaine carry up to four years in state prison, and you could receive up to five years for selling methamphetamine or crack cocaine. Ketamine is a notable exception. The court can charge sale of this drug as either a misdemeanor that carries the same penalties as personal possession or as a felony offense resulting in up to three years in prison.

Drug manufacturing penalties

Charges of cultivating and/or manufacturing drugs can result in fines of up to $50,000 and up to seven years in prison, or six years for possession of the chemicals used to make PCP or methamphetamine. If you have a prior record, you could receive even more substantial fines and a longer prison sentence for this charge.

In addition to the controlled substances listed above, possession or sale of prescription drugs can also result in legal penalties if you do not have a prescription or a license to dispense medications. The court charges enhanced drug penalties for selling controlled substances in a school zone or to a minor.