In January 2011, the California State Legislature amended possession of marijuana laws by reducing the punishment for someone charged with less than 28.5 grams of marijuana from a misdemeanor to an infraction. What this means is that if someone is found with 28.5 grams of marijuana and it is their first offense, they will only be facing a maximum $100.00 fine plus penalty assessment which makes the total fine about $460.00, instead of possible jail time and a misdemeanor on their criminal record. (H&S Code § 11357; V.C. § 23222).
If the “under an ounce” infraction is not filed in conjunction with any misdemeanor or felony charge, it is basically handled like a traffic ticket. The crime will be filed in a traffic court and the fine can be paid at the clerks office or via the internet.
However, it is important to note that individuals under the age of twenty-one, who are found in possession of marijuana of any amount, are required to make a court appearance. The mandatory appearance is required pursuant to California Vehicle Code Section 13202.5(d). If a person under the age of 21 enters a guilty plea to a violation of HS 11357, then the court will immediately notify the Department of Motor Vehicles and the person will have their license suspended for one year.
If you decide to retain an experienced criminal defense law firm you may have another option. It may be possible for the accused to enter a drug diversion program pursuant to California Penal Code Section 1000. Under California Penal Code Section 1000, “Deferred Entry of Judgment” allows an eligible defendant the opportunity to have their criminal proceeding suspended while they enter a drug treatment program.
If the defendant successfully completes the program with no new violations and pays all the required fees, the court will dismiss the underlying charges. What this means is by entering and completing a P.C. 1000 program, individuals under the age of twenty-one will not lose their driving license for any period of time..
Due to the complexity of being accused of a drug offense, it is critical that you talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys will use their knowledge of the law to provide you with the best possible drug crime defense. Wallin & Klarich attorneys will aggressively defend you to ensure the judge takes into account all of the available options in your case. Contact the experienced Southern California criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich today at 1-888-749-0034. We will be there when you call.