If you are facing a drug possession charge in California, you may think prison time is unavoidable. The good news is that possession is now classified as a misdemeanor, which means the consequences are less severe than they would be if it was a felony. With the right defense, you may be able to avoid jail altogether.
According to FindLaw, California was the first state to change drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor. This means a conviction regarding possession cannot lead to prison, although it can result in up to one year in the county jail. In certain cases, a defense attorney may even be able to avoid a conviction by proving unlawful seizure, medical-related use, entrapment or lab analysis issues.
According to the Urban Institute, a misdemeanor reclassification means that, depending on the situation, a convicted person may be able to avoid jail time by entering a drug treatment program. In the state of California, those who were previously convicted of a drug possession felony may apply for resentencing due to the new laws.
So far, the results of the reclassification are positive. There is a reduction in prison population, and part of the millions of dollars this saves the prisons is set to help pay for public safety programs such as crime prevention, victims' services, and mental health treatment. Another benefit of this reclassification is a decrease in crime. This is because criminal justice resources and law enforcement are able to spend more time and effort on serious crimes.