Health & Safety Code 11550 – Under the Influence of a Controlled Substances
Under the Influence of Controlled Substances – Table of Contents
Not only is it illegal to have controlled substances in your possession, but you can also go to jail if you are on them. Under Section 11550 HSC of the California Health and Safety Code, it is illegal to be under the effect of a controlled substance that is listed in subsection (b), (c), or (e), or part (1) of subdivision (f) of Section 11054. In paragraphs (14), (15), (21), (22), or (23) of subdivision (d) of Section 11054. In subsection (b) or (c) of Section 11055, or in part (1) or (2) of subdivision (d) or part (3) of subsection (e) of Section 11055. It will be up to the defense to prove that it fits the exception. Anyone who breaks this section of the law is guilty of a misdemeanor. A person who violates this section will have to spend at least 90 days in county jail unless subdivision (c) says otherwise.
The court has the responsibility of proving the suspect’s drug use or impairment by establishing the following:
- The defendant used a controlled drug before their arrest.
- The offender was under the effects of a controlled substance at their arrest.
This crime would not be committed by someone with a valid prescription for a controlled substance. Also, to this law, marijuana is not considered a controlled substance.
Section 11550 HSC Controlled Substances
According to California’s Health and Safety Code 11550, a controlled substance is a medication that must adhere to strict guidelines. The use of these drugs may result in criminal charges and fines.
The court ruled that controlled drug use within 48 hours constituted current use. Someone may violate Health and Safety Code Section 11550 even if they last used a restricted drug two days ago.
- If convicted under HS 11550(a), the offender faces a year in prison.
- HS 11550(a) they may be put on probation that might last up to five years.
- Work release and home arrest: these are prison alternatives on probation. Informal or summary probation is court-monitored for HS 11550(a) convictions. Work release involves physical work like cleaning up garbage on roads or in prisons. Work release is a typical prison option for defendants whose probation sentences include jail time.
Alternatives to incarceration include house arrest or electronic monitoring.
- HS 11550(a) convictions may compel defendants to register as drug offenders with local law enforcement.
- $10,000 bail. Bail is a money or property surety bond deposited with the court, generally via a bail agency, to ensure a defendant’s court appearance. The defendant forfeits bail if they don’t appear in court. A court may raise or lower bail depending on the defendant’s criminal history.
In addition to the penalties, a defendant found guilty of being under the influence of a controlled drug may face fines and court costs, criminal protection orders, denial of military admission, loss of immigration status, or a professional license (dentist, lawyer, doctor, etc.).
- Valid prescription: For this subsection, a person is not guilty if they have a valid prescription issued by a physician or other medical practitioner authorized to prescribe the controlled substance. Any licensed medical professional, dentist, podiatrist, or veterinarian is acceptable. For the defense to be effective, all these specialists must have legal California licenses. A legitimate prescription from a naturopathic doctor is likewise acceptable. An acquittal should occur if the prosecution cannot show that the defendant lacked proper medication.
- The absence of drug usage or intoxication is an absolute defense to drug charges. The prosecution won’t have a case against you if they can’t find hard evidence (such as drug tests or other samples) proving you were impaired.
- Involuntary intoxication: If the prosecution cannot establish that you ingested the substance “willfully” because you were not acting under your own free will, they cannot convict you of drug possession. This may seem like a weak justification for violating this clause, but it is valid in cases when someone was drugged without their consent.
An attorney may either go to trial on behalf of a client charged with violating Health and Safety Code Section 11550 or attempt to negotiate a more lenient plea agreement on their behalf. Proposition 36 sentencing provides for a suspended sentence to include probation and drug treatment in the case of defendants guilty under Health and Safety Code Section 11550.
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Seppi Esfandi is an Expert Attorney who has over 21 years of practice defending a variety of cases.
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