Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance
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Pursuant to California Health and Safety Code 11550, it is illegal for
a person to be under the influence of a controlled substance. In order
for a person to be convicted of this crime, they must have 1) willfully
used a narcotic drug and 2) were under its influence. A person may also
be convicted of this crime for being under the influence of prescription
drugs if they were illegally obtained or if the person was driving while
If you have been arrested and charged with a crime related to use of a
controlled substance or narcotic drug, the Law Offices of Virginia L.
Landry, Inc. can help. Contact our firm as soon as possible for a free
case review to learn more about potential defenses to your charges.
What is a Controlled Substance?
California Health and Safety Code sections 11054-11058 list specific drugs
whose use can get a person convicted of a crime. Some of the most commonly
abused substances are heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, and PCP. Marijuana,
while still federally classified as a Schedule I drug, is excluded from
this law and is regulated separately under California’s marijuana laws.
As mentioned above, use of and intoxication by prescription drugs can also
result in prosecution. Commonly abused prescription drugs include codeine,
morphine, hydrocodone (Vicodin), and other opiates.
In order for prosecutors to convict a person of using a drug, they must
be able to prove that the use was current – that is, immediately
prior to arrest. “Current use” means that the person has not
yet entered into symptoms of withdrawal, which indicates
past use. Past use entitles the defendant to an acquittal of his or her charges
for this offense, although separate drug charges may still apply.
Penalties for “Under the Influence”
A violation of HS 11550 is a misdemeanor crime. The penalties may include:
- Up to one year in county jail
- Up to five years of summary or informal probation
- Drug counseling
- Community service
A second conviction is similarly punished, but a third offense within seven
years together with a refusal to attend or comply with drug treatment
will result in a mandatory minimum sentence of 180 days in jail.
Potential defenses may include:
Lack of proof. In order to be convicted, you will likely have to be tested by a urine
or blood test. Without such a test, many of the symptoms of fatigue, dehydration,
or other medical conditions may appear to mimic those of drug use.
Valid possession and use of a prescription drug. If you have a valid prescription in your name and you did not take a dose
exceeding the prescription, this may be a legitimate defense.
Involuntary intoxication. You cannot be guilty of this offense if you were “drugged”
by another person and did not voluntarily ingest a controlled substance
or narcotic drug.
Trusted Criminal Defense in Orange County, CA
An arrest for a drug offense can be a stressful experience, but help is
available. The Orange County criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices
of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. have successfully defended the rights of the
accused since 1989. With experience handling cases in all five Orange
County courts, we have earned a respected reputation among judges, prosecutors,
and our many satisfied clients.
The outcome of your case may depend on the quality of your attorney –
be sure you choose someone with the experience necessary to potentially
have your charges reduced or dropped. Our firm is ready to do what it
takes to protect your rights and safeguard your future.
case evaluation online and we will be in touch with you shortly.