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The prosecution of drug crimes in California after Prop 47 and 64

With the passing of both Propositions 47 and 64, California became one of a few liberal states as it relates to the prosecution of drug crimes. It's important that residents not let recent legislation blind them though.

California still remains as unforgiving as other states with respect to its handling of certain offenses. For example, a clear line is drawn between possession for personal use and with the intent to sell it.

With the passing of Prop 47 in 2014, many drug charges that would have previously resulted in felony convictions suddenly became misdemeanors. This meant that no matter how addictive the drug, whether it is the Schedule I or V variety, all would be punished more equitably.

What became of this is that no matter what the charge, all drug related offenses would become misdemeanors. This meant that they would carry a sentence of less than a year in county jail, a noticeable departure from the much longer periods of incarceration associated with felony convictions. The law's passing also allowed for those serving time in state prison for drug offenses to petition judges for reduced sentences.

Prop 64, signed into law in 2016, decriminalized both the sale and possession of 28.5, or eight concentrated, grams of marijuana among those 21 and older. Under this law, individuals had to keep their marijuana stash inside their private homes or utilize it in licensed facilities. Additionally, it allows families to grow up to six plants in their residence, provided the grow is not visible to the public.

As a result of the passing of this referendum, any adult 21 or over that is caught possessing more than his or her prescribed allotment of marijuana is subject to being prosecuted for a misdemeanor. This crime carries a fine of $500 or six months in jail. For those 18 or younger, any possession near this legal limit can carry a punishment of not only community service, but completion of a drug education course as well.

With drug laws as fluid as California's have been in the past few years, it can be difficult to know what is a qualifying drug offense in the state. If you're facing drug charges in Orange County, a criminal defense attorney can provide you with the strategic insight as to how you might best defend your case.

Source: findlaw.com, "California drug possession laws," accessed May 16, 2017

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