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Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney
Being Under the Influence of an Illegal Drug Is a Crime. Work with Our Firm to Fight the Prosecution & Keep Your Record Clean.

Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance

Contact an Orange County Drug Lawyer to Begin Your Defense - (866) 902-6880

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 have1) 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 intoxicated.

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 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 with penalties which 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

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 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.

Request your case evaluation online and we will be in touch with you shortly.

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What Sets the Law Offices of
Virginia L. Landry Apart?

  • Rated a "Top DUI Attorney" and Board Certified in DUI Defense

  • Achieved a Perfect 10 Out of 10 Superb Rating On Avvo

  • Past President of the West Orange County Bar Association

  • Hundreds of Trials and Thousands of Motions Achieved for Clients

What Our Clients Are Saying

Protecting Our Clients Is Our Number One Priority
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  • “I hired Betty from the Law Offices of Virginia Landry and the judge finally went ahead and dismissed it.”


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  • “Thank you! You saved my life.”