Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance Attorney

Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance

Many people are surprised to learn that not only is it illegal to possess drugs such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and certain prescription medications, it is also a drug crime to be under the influence of a controlled substance. Being under the influence of a controlled substance is a misdemeanor offense under California Health and Safety Code Section 11550 HSC and those convicted can face stiff penalties.

Drugs Use within Five Days of the Arrest

A defendant can be convicted of being under the influence of a controlled substance if the prosecution can prove that the defendant willfully and unlawfully used a controlled substance shortly before being arrested or was under the influence of a controlled substance at the time of arrest. This statute is fairly vague and courts have struggled to define what “shortly before being arrested” means in the context of the law. In fact, drug use within five days of the arrest has been considered sufficient to convict a defendant under Health and Safety Code Section 11550 HSC.

Defenses to Being Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance

There are a number of defenses available to a person who has been charged criminally with being under the influence of a controlled substance. Officers often test the defendant’s blood for the presence of illegal drugs. Even if these drugs are discovered in the defendant’s system, other factors may account for symptoms associated with drug intoxication. In these cases, a defense attorney may be able to show why the symptoms described in the police report were actually caused by something other than drug use.

In addition, if the defendant was under the influence of a prescription drug that was legally prescribed to him or her, he or she would not be guilty of this crime. Of course, a person who is under the influence of a legally prescribed drug must still refrain from certain activities, such as driving. A person caught driving while under the influence of a prescribed drug can be charged with driving under the influence of drugs in violation of California Vehicle Code Section 23152(e) VC.

Courts have held that defendants who are experiencing symptoms associated with drug withdrawal are criminally liable under this law. This means that defendants who stop using heroin or other drugs that often carry severe withdrawal symptoms could not be charged under California Health and Safety Code Section 11550 HSC while their body deals with the absence of the drug.

A defendant also would have a valid legal defense if he or she was drugged without his or her knowledge. This often happens when a person has something slipped into his or her drink. In these cases, the defense can raise an involuntary intoxication defense.

Penalties for Being Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance

A defendant convicted of being under the influence of a controlled substance can be sentenced to serve up to a year in jail and put on probation for up to five years. Courts typically require that the defendant complete drug treatment as a condition of probation. If the defendant has two prior convictions for this offense within seven years and has refused drug treatment, he or she will be required to serve a minimum of six months in jail. Defendants convicted of this offense may be eligible for a drug diversion program that would ultimately prevent a conviction on their record.

If you or a loved one have been charged with being under the influence of drugs, it is critical that you meet with an attorney immediately. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Michael Kraut is highly adept at fighting these types of cases and ensuring that he clients receive the best representation possible.

For more information about being under the influence of a controlled substance, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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