Facing a drug offense charge can be overwhelming, with serious consequences that affect your life, career, and future. Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, navigating the legal system is challenging and complex. Skilled legal representation is crucial to protect your rights and work toward the best possible outcome.

At The Law Offices of Arash Hashemi, we understand the severity of drug offense charges and the stress they cause. Since 2003, our firm has been dedicated to providing effective legal defense for individuals accused of drug-related crimes in Los Angeles. Our team is committed to defending your rights and ensuring you receive a fair trial. We use our extensive experience and knowledge of California drug laws to fight aggressively on your behalf, aiming to minimize the impact on your life and secure your future.

Contact our office at (310) 448-1529 or fill out our online contact form to discuss your case.

The Difference Between Misdemeanors and Felonies

Drug offenses in California fall into two main categories: misdemeanors and felonies. The primary difference between the two lies in the severity of the offense and the associated penalties.

  • Misdemeanors: These are less severe offenses punishable by up to one year in county jail. Common misdemeanor drug offenses include possession of small amounts of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, and being under the influence of drugs in public. Convictions can lead to fines, probation, community service, and mandatory drug education or treatment programs.
  • Felonies: These are more serious offenses punishable by more than one year in state prison. Felony drug offenses include possession of larger quantities of narcotics, possession with intent to sell, manufacturing drugs, and drug trafficking. Felony convictions can result in long prison sentences, substantial fines, and a permanent criminal record, which may affect your ability to vote, own a firearm, and secure employment.





    Overview of California Drug Laws and Their Implications

    • Controlled Substances: California law classifies drugs into schedules based on their potential for abuse and medical use. Schedule I drugs, like heroin and LSD, are considered the most dangerous with no accepted medical use. Lower schedules include drugs that are still illegal without a prescription but are less dangerous.
    • Possession: Simple possession of controlled substances can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the amount and type of drug. Proposition 47, passed in 2014, reclassified many drug possession offenses from felonies to misdemeanors, reducing penalties for those caught with small amounts.
    • Possession with Intent to Sell: This is always charged as a felony, given the intent to distribute drugs. The prosecution must prove intent, which can be inferred from the quantity of drugs, packaging materials, or scales found in the defendant’s possession.
    • Manufacturing and Trafficking: Manufacturing drugs or trafficking them across state lines or within the state are severe offenses that carry hefty penalties. These crimes often involve lengthy prison sentences and large fines.

    Misdemeanor Drug Crimes in California

    Misdemeanor drug crimes in California involve less severe offenses compared to felonies. These crimes typically include possession of small amounts of controlled substances for personal use, possession of drug paraphernalia, and being under the influence of drugs in public. While misdemeanors are serious, they carry lighter penalties than felonies and often provide opportunities for alternative sentencing.


    California’s Proposition 36, passed in 2000, allows individuals convicted of non-violent drug possession offenses to receive substance abuse treatment instead of jail time. This initiative aims to reduce recidivism by addressing the underlying issue of addiction rather than solely focusing on punishment. Under Proposition 36, eligible offenders can participate in a drug treatment program, and upon successful completion, their charges may be dismissed. This approach emphasizes rehabilitation and provides a second chance for individuals struggling with substance abuse.

    List of Common Misdemeanor Drug Offenses

    1. Possession of Marijuana: Possessing small amounts of marijuana for personal use is generally treated as a misdemeanor. While California has legalized recreational marijuana use for adults, possession of more than the legal limit or by individuals under 21 can result in misdemeanor charges.
    2. Possession of Drug Paraphernalia: Items used to consume or prepare drugs, such as pipes, syringes, and bongs, fall under this category. Possession of drug paraphernalia is considered a misdemeanor offense.
    3. Being Under the Influence of Drugs in Public: Public intoxication due to drug use is a misdemeanor. This offense typically applies when an individual is visibly impaired by drugs in a public place and poses a danger to themselves or others.

    Potential Penalties and Consequences for Misdemeanor Drug Offenses

    • Fines: Offenders may be required to pay fines, which vary depending on the specific offense and circumstances.
    • Probation: Misdemeanor convictions often result in probation, during which the offender must comply with certain conditions, such as regular drug testing and attending counseling sessions.
    • Community Service: Courts may impose community service as part of the sentence for misdemeanor drug offenses.
    • Drug Treatment Programs: Under Proposition 36, eligible offenders may be mandated to complete a drug treatment program instead of serving jail time.
    • Jail Time: While less common for first-time offenders, repeat offenders or those violating probation may face up to one year in county jail.

    Felony Drug Crimes in California

    Felony drug crimes in California are severe offenses that involve significant quantities of controlled substances or activities such as manufacturing, distributing, and trafficking drugs. These crimes are considered more dangerous and harmful to society than misdemeanors, and therefore carry harsher penalties, including lengthy prison sentences and substantial fines. A felony conviction can also result in long-term consequences such as loss of certain civil rights and difficulties in securing employment and housing.


    List of Common Felony Drug Offenses

    1. Possession of Narcotics Other Than Marijuana: Possessing controlled substances such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, or other narcotics is classified as a felony, especially when the amount indicates intent beyond personal use.
    2. Possession with Intent to Sell: When an individual is found with a large quantity of drugs, along with items like scales, baggies, or large amounts of cash, it suggests an intent to sell. This is always treated as a felony due to the implications of drug distribution.
    3. Manufacturing Drugs: The production or cultivation of controlled substances, including methamphetamine labs or cannabis cultivation exceeding legal limits, constitutes a felony. Manufacturing drugs poses significant risks to public safety and health.
    4. Drug Trafficking: The transportation, distribution, or importation of controlled substances across state lines or within the state is classified as drug trafficking. This is a serious felony offense with severe penalties, reflecting the extensive impact on communities and the potential for widespread harm.

    Potential Penalties and Consequences for Felony Drug Offenses

    • State Prison Sentences: Felony convictions often result in lengthy prison terms, ranging from several years to life in prison, depending on the offense and circumstances.
    • Fines: Offenders may face significant fines, sometimes amounting to tens of thousands of dollars.
    • Probation: In some cases, offenders may be placed on felony probation with strict conditions such as regular reporting to a probation officer, drug testing, and participation in drug treatment programs.
    • Asset Forfeiture: Authorities may seize assets believed to be connected to drug crimes, including cash, vehicles, and property.
    • Loss of Civil Rights: Felony convictions can lead to the loss of the right to vote, own firearms, and hold certain professional licenses.

    Marijuana: Felony or Misdemeanor?

    In California, marijuana-related offenses can be classified as either misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the nature and circumstances of the offense. The state has legalized the recreational use of marijuana for adults over 21, but there are still strict regulations governing its cultivation, sale, and transportation. Violations of these regulations can result in criminal charges.

    Difference Between Personal Use, Cultivation, Selling, and Transporting Marijuana

    • Personal Use: Adults 21 and older can legally possess up to 28.5 grams of marijuana or 8 grams of concentrated cannabis for personal use. Possession of amounts exceeding these limits can result in misdemeanor charges.
    • Cultivation: Individuals are allowed to cultivate up to six cannabis plants per residence for personal use. Cultivating more than the permitted number of plants can lead to felony charges, especially if there is evidence of intent to sell.
    • Selling: Unauthorized sale of marijuana is a serious offense. Selling any amount of marijuana without a license is treated as a felony, reflecting the state’s intent to regulate the commercial cannabis market strictly.
    • Transporting: Transporting marijuana for personal use within the legal limits is allowed. However, transporting larger quantities, particularly with the intent to sell, can result in felony charges. Additionally, transporting marijuana across state lines remains illegal under federal law.

    Legal Implications and Penalties for Marijuana Offenses

    • Misdemeanor Offenses: Possession of more than 28.5 grams of marijuana or 8 grams of concentrated cannabis can result in up to six months in county jail and fines up to $500. Cultivating more than six plants may lead to similar penalties for first-time offenders.
    • Felony Offenses: Unauthorized sale, large-scale cultivation, and transporting significant quantities of marijuana can result in felony charges. Penalties for these offenses include up to three years in state prison and substantial fines. Aggravating factors, such as selling to minors or prior convictions, can increase the severity of the penalties.

    Strategies for Defending Against Misdemeanor and Felony Drug Charges

    • Challenging Search and Seizure: Your lawyer can examine whether the police conducted a legal search and seizure. If your Fourth Amendment rights were violated, evidence obtained unlawfully can be suppressed.
    • Questioning the Evidence: The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the alleged offense. Your lawyer can scrutinize the evidence for inconsistencies, errors in handling, and chain of custody issues.
    • Proving Lack of Intent: For charges like possession with intent to sell, your lawyer can argue that the drugs were for personal use, challenging the prosecution’s claims of intent to distribute.
    • Demonstrating Entrapment: If you were coerced or induced by law enforcement to commit a drug offense you otherwise would not have committed, your lawyer can raise an entrapment defense.
    • Negotiating Plea Bargains: In some cases, negotiating a plea bargain may be in your best interest. An experienced lawyer can work to reduce the charges or penalties in exchange for a guilty plea to a lesser offense.

    Successful Case Outcome

    • Superior Court of California, City of Los Angeles

    Outcome: No State Prison – Probation Only
    Case Overview: Charged with a violation of §11359(a) of the Health & Safety Code (Felony Possession of Marijuana for Sale), the defendant faced a potential 3-year State Prison sentence. The Court made a significant decision to sentence the defendant to 3 years’ probation. After a year and a half, the Court allowed the defendant to withdraw the guilty plea, plea to another related offense, and subsequently reduced the felony to a misdemeanor, ultimately expunging the case.
    Resolution: Felony Reduced to Misdemeanor, Case Expunged

    Why Choose The Law Offices of Arash Hashemi?

    When facing serious drug charges, you need a defense attorney with extensive experience and a proven track record. Arash Hashemi has been an active member of The State Bar of California since December 2002. On his second day as a lawyer, Arash was already in court, participating in a bench trial. Over the years, he has handled a wide variety of criminal cases, from simple petty theft to complex felonies, including murder.

    Arash has also represented thousands of Californians accused of violating their probation or parole and has argued cases before the California Court of Appeals. He is admitted to practice before all California State Courts and the United States District Courts for the Northern, Eastern, Central, and Southern Districts of California. Currently serving as the 2024 President of the Criminal Courts Bar Association, Arash brings a wealth of knowledge, dedication, and a deep understanding of California’s criminal justice system to every case he handles.

    Contact a Los Angeles Drug Defense Attorney & Schedule Your Consultation Today

    Misdemeanor and Felony Drug Offenses DefenseFor expert legal assistance with your drug charges, contact The Law Offices of Arash Hashemi. With over 20 years of experience in criminal defense, Attorney Arash Hashemi and his team are dedicated to providing professional, effective legal representation. We understand the serious implications of these charges and are committed to providing a solid defense to protect your rights and future.

    Schedule a Consultation:





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      Disclaimer: The content provided here is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is not intended to predict outcomes, as individual circumstances vary and laws may change over time. Those seeking legal advice should consult with a qualified attorney to understand how current laws apply to their specific situation. For detailed legal guidance on the topics discussed, please contact our law firm directly.