Some drugs cause paranoia, while dealing and purchasing certain drugs can be a dangerous venture. With these things in mind, it’s not too surprising that many people are arrested with drugs are also carrying weapons. Unfortunately, just carrying a gun and any amount of certain drugs is a criminal act in itself. Here’s what you should know about California’s possession with a controlled substance while armed law, California Health and Safety Code (HS) 11370.1.
Details Matter in This Charge
To be convicted of being in possession of a firearm while in possession of a controlled substance, the prosecution must prove a number of things:
- First, possessing drugs and a firearm is only illegal depending on the drug in question. If you are armed while carrying LSD, for example, this law doesn’t apply. The only drug this law does specify are cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, PCP or a drug chemically similar to any of those substances (crack or bath salts for example).
- Secondly, the firearm has to be loaded and operable -so if you have removed all the ammo, stored the gun in a locked case or have a display gun with the firing pin filed down, you did not break this law.
- Third, the firearm was nearby and accessible. It’s worth mentioning that this does not necessarily mean you are holding the gun or carrying it on your body. This aspect is one that is often debated by the prosecution and the defense attorney because what is considered “nearby and accessible” is debatable.
If you believe you do not meet the minimum requirements to be guilty of this law because you were not carrying one of the previously mentioned substances or because you were not technically armed because your firearm was not loaded, operable, nearby or accessible, talk to your attorney about your specific situation as he may be able to have the charges against you dropped.
Penalties for Possession of a Firearm With Drugs
Those convicted of possessing a gun at the same time as a controlled substance will face between two and four years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000 and a lifetime ban on firearm ownership and possession. Those convicted of this crime cannot qualify for alternative sentencing through California’s drug diversion program, but they may be able to obtain felony probation depending on the specifics of the case.
A top criminal attorney can advise you whether your best course of action will be to fight the charges or to negotiate a plea bargain to minimize your possible sentencing. That being said, it is important to always contact your lawyer before you agree to speak with the police or you may say something that can hurt your case later on or even provide information that could lead to your facing additional criminal charges if they believe you are guilty of other crimes.
If you have been charged with carrying a firearm and a controlled substance, please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free consultation with Peter M. Liss.
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