Drug Charges


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In California, the law prohibits the possession and sale of certain types of narcotics. If you are caught with certain drugs, you might face criminal charges and penalties including jail time and fines. The penalties that you face for drug possession vary depending upon the type and amount of drugs you possess.

If you are charged with drug possession, you should contact The Crawford Law Firm, Inc.  Our Monterey drug law attorneys have a combined two decades of experience defending people in the Monterey County courts. We will help you to understand all of your options, including a not guilty plea or entering into a drug diversion program (explained below).

Criminal Penalties in California for Drug Possession

California law punishes drug possession depending on the type of drug, the quantity, and the purpose for which it is possessed. The sentencing for drug possession changed after California voters passed Proposition 47 in 2014. This law made many drug possession charges punishable only as misdemeanors.

If you possessed large quantities, or you possessed a substance classified as among the most dangerous, then you may be charged with a felony.  However, with smaller quantities that are considered less dangerous, you are likely to face a misdemeanor possession charge. Repeat offenders also face larger fines and more serious penalties.

Defenses to Drug Possession Charges

In a drug case the search must be examined by an attorney for Fourth Amendment violations.  Our Salinas drug crimes lawyers are extremely knowledgeable about California drug laws including those related to the ever-changing laws regarding marijuana. But no matter what drug you are accused of possessing, your constitutional rights will be protected. Constitutional violations can result in the exclusion of evidence and dismissal of your case.  Contact us today for a free legal consultation at (831) 783-0222.

Avoiding a Drug Conviction in Monterey County Courts

We have numerous strategies to defend your rights and limit your risk of conviction. Your rights may have been violated; you may be the victim of overly-aggressive police tactics or blatant racism. The Crawford Law Firm offers over twenty years of combined experience defending individuals against serious drug charges including:

  • Possession of LSD, cocaine, meth and other narcotics
  • Possession with intent to sell
  • Prescription forgery
  • Transportation of drugs
  • Narcotics sales
  • Cultivation of illegal substances
  • Distribution or intent to distribute

We handle the most serious drug-related criminal cases. We will develop an aggressive defense strategy and determine whether you are eligible for drug treatment programs offered as alternatives to incarceration such as:


If you have been charged with certain minor drug-related offenses, including under-the-influence or simple possession, in the state of California, there may be two options available to keep a conviction off your record.  Keep in mind that more serious drug charges may be reducible to these minor offenses thus making the below alternatives available to you.

California Deferred Entry of Judgment (DEJ)

What is it?: California Penal Code Section 1000 states the "Deferred Entry of Judgment" option for certain types of drug-related offenses.

This program allows eligible persons to enter a court-approved drug rehabilitation program instead of being sentenced within the criminal justice system. This option puts court proceedings "on hold" for a period of between 18 months to 3 years while you complete the rehabilitation program. This is accomplished by entering a plea of guilty with the court which it "holds" during this time.

If you are unsuccessful in completing the program, or the judge does not think you are benefiting from the program, you may be sentenced for the charges at any time. However, if you successfully complete the program, the guilty plea is withdrawn, the judge dismisses the charges, and all record of the arrest and charges are removed.*

California Deferred Entry of Judgement Eligibility:

People are assessed to determine if they are eligible to participate in this program. In order to qualify, the charges generally must be of a non-violent nature and the substance involved must have been for personal use and not for sale.

You must not have been previously convicted for an offense involving controlled substances or have been convicted of a felony within the past five years. Additionally, if you have ever been on parole or probation you must not have ever had it revoked.

This option is not available if you have participated in a court administered rehabilitation program within the past five years. If you meet all of these criteria, you may be considered eligible for this program. However, it is ultimately up to the judge to decide your eligibility.

How Deferred Entry of Judgement Works:

In order to complete this program, you must enter a guilty plea with the court. The court "holds" this plea for the duration of your participation in a court-approved rehabilitation program.

You must remain in compliance with all requirements of your program in order to successfully complete it including appearing in court for updates and random drug testing.

Getting your California Drug Charges Dismissed:

If you complete the requirements of your court-approved rehabilitation program, the charges against you will be dismissed in their entirety. This means that on an employment application or questionnaire, you may state that you have never been arrested or charged.

The one exception to this benefit is if you apply to become a peace officer you must disclose the arrest and outcome.*

Moreover, a dismissal pursuant to DEJ is not a safeguard for immigration purposes.


You may or may not have some financial obligation to the rehabilitation program if enrolled. The court will consider your ability to pay and whether you have already paid any fees to determine any financial obligations.

Proposition 36

What is it? Proposition 36 was passed by California voters in 2001. If you are convicted of possessing or being under the influence of drugs this law allows the judge to place you on probation, and into a treatment program, instead of serving jail time.

If you successfully complete the program and the conditions of probation have been met, you can ask the court to dismiss your charges. If the charges are dismissed, you will only have to disclose your arrest in a limited number of circumstances.

Proposition 36 Eligibility

In order to qualify under Prop. 36, the offense can't be related to the sale or manufacture of drugs and can't be violent. Convictions involving many types of drugs are eligible under this program.

However, you are not eligible for this option if: you have been convicted of growing marijuana (even if it was only for personal use); you possessed a controlled substance and a firearm at the time of your arrest; you forged a prescription to obtain drugs; or you were convicted of a non-drug related misdemeanor or a felony at the time you were arrested for the drug or under-the-influence charge. Often, you will be evaluated by an approved provider to determine which program is appropriate for you.

If you have a prior conviction for a violent felony, you are not eligible for this program unless you've been out of prison for at least five years with no offenses during that time. Even if you are eligible for this program, you also retain the choice to "opt-out" of treatment and choose to be sentenced under pre-existing law instead.

How Proposition 36 Works:

In order to qualify for this option, you must be convicted of a drug possession or being under-the-influence.

This means you will have to plead guilty or no contest to your charges. The judge will then order you to be placed on probation and complete a drug treatment program.

The rehabilitation program can last up to one year and there may be some additional conditions to your treatment imposed by the judge such as counseling, community service, check-ins with the court, drug testing, or contributing to the cost of your treatment. The treatment provider will keep the court updated through regular progress reports throughout your treatment.

If any of the terms are violated, your probation may be revoked subjecting you to the normal sentencing imposed under the law. However, if you successfully complete the rehabilitation program, you may ask the court to dismiss the charges.

Getting your Charges Dismissed:

If you successfully complete the drug treatment program, you must ask the court you dismiss your charges, it won't happen automatically. It is up to the judge's discretion to grant dismissal - judges are given great flexibility to handle each drug offense.

Contact Us Today

If you are facing Monterey drug charges, contact us online or call (831) 783-0222 to consult with us in Salinas, California, and for a thorough assessment of your case.

Top-Rated, Award-Winning Criminal Defense Attorneys


The Crawford Law Firm has been committed to its clients for over fourteen years. With offices in Monterey, Santa Cruz, and Salinas, CA, our focus is DUI and criminal cases in Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara counties.

Free consultations are by appointment and we here to ease your mind and fight for you. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.