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Health and Safety Code 11377(a): Possession of Methamphetamine Laws in California

H&S 11377(a): Possession of Methamphetamine

Legal Definition: (a) Except as authorized by law and as otherwise provided in subdivision (b) or Section 11375, or in Article 7 (commencing with Section 4211) of Chapter 9 of Division 2 of the Business and Professions Code, every person who possesses any controlled substance which is (1) classified in Schedule III, IV, or V, and which is not a narcotic drug, (2) specified in subdivision (d) of Section 11054, except paragraphs (13), (14), (15), and (20) of subdivision (d), (3) specified in paragraph (11) of subdivision (c) of Section 11056, (4) specified in paragraph (2) or (3) of subdivision (f) of Section 11054, or (5) specified in subdivision (d), (e), or (f) of Section 11055, unless upon the prescription of a physician, dentist, podiatrist, or veterinarian, licensed to practice in this state, shall be punished … To be found guilty under HS 11377 the prosecution must prove: 1. You possessed methamphetamine; 2a. You knew that you were in possession of methamphetamine; OR 2b. You knew that the item you possessed was otherwise a controlled substance; AND 3. There was a sufficient amount of the methamphetamine to be used as a drug by a person, not simply residue or trace amounts of it present.

What does this mean?

A usable amount refers to a quantity sufficient for controlled substance use, excluding insignificant traces or debris. Notably, a usable amount needn’t possess the capacity, in either quantity or potency, to induce user effects or euphoria. It is important to emphasize that the ability to achieve a high from the amount seized is not a prerequisite for this charge. To establish guilt, one must demonstrate knowledge of either the item being crystal meth or its status as a controlled substance in possession. Consequently, knowledge is encompassed in two distinct forms: familiarity with the item itself and awareness of its contents. Possession is not limited to physical contact with the substance; control or the right to control, whether personally or through a representative, suffices. It is worth noting that agreeing to purchase a controlled substance does not, in isolation, confer control over said substance. Furthermore, it is possible for multiple individuals to be in possession of the same item simultaneously. Contrasting HS 11378, Methamphetamine Sales involves several distinguishing factors, such as quantity, the presence of receipt books, minuscule baggies, drug paraphernalia, and statements made to law enforcement.


A charge under HS 11377 is a misdemeanor offense other than as described below. If you are convicted of this charge you could be sentenced to upwards of six months in County Jail. You would be required to serve at least 50% of that time in custody. You could also be subject to a fine up to $1000 for this charge. In addition, all methamphetamine present would all be confiscated by police as part of their investigation and likely destroyed. This is not a strike offense under the California Three Strikes law, and it is not a Sex Offense under PC 290. You could also face a suspension or loss of your Professional License if convicted, and if you are not a legal resident, you would face Deportation in Immigration Court since the offense is deportable, in that it is a crime involving drugs. You can be charged with a violation of HS 11377 as a felony charge only if you have a previous sex crime conviction or a conviction for a serious offense, such as Murder, among others. If you’re convicted of this charge as a felony, you can be sentenced to State Prison for upwards of 16 months, 2 or 3 years. You would be required to serve 50% of that time in custody.

Common Defenses

  1. Statute of Limitations
  2. Violation of Rights
  3. Insufficient Evidence
  4. Coerced Confessions

One potential defense against this violation is if the possession of methamphetamine can be proven to have been obtained lawfully. This would require a lawful prescription for the medication, with the possessed amount aligning with the prescribed quantity. For instance, if you possess 10 pounds of methamphetamine but are lawfully prescribed only 8 ounces, this would constitute inconsistent and unlawful possession. In cases where you were unaware that the substance found on you was indeed methamphetamine, or if you were unaware of the presence of the drug due to a friend planting it in your vehicle or bag prior to a police search, you cannot be deemed guilty of this charge. The lack of knowledge about the drug’s presence or its classification as a controlled substance (whether meth or otherwise) would result in insufficient evidence to establish your guilt. Additionally, another defense may arise if law enforcement unlawfully violates your rights regarding search and seizure. This occurs when police enter your residence without a warrant or probable cause to search for the methamphetamine, during an unlawful detainment, or when a search is conducted without a warrant or an exception to the warrant requirement. Any such violation would enable your Ontario Criminal Defense Attorney to file a Motion to Suppress Evidence under a PC 1538.5 motion, resulting in the exclusion of the evidence. Accordingly, it would not be admissible against you in your case.

Call Today

Being slapped with a charge under HS 11377 isn’t just a fleeting moment of legal inconvenience; it’s a potential stain on your record with lasting consequences that can hinder educational, employment, and housing opportunities. Moreover, a drug conviction can throw a wrench in your aspirations, especially when seeking professional licenses – a past mistake, even from your younger years, can haunt your future.

However, every legal maze has an exit. Alternatives like diversion programs can pave the way to potential case dismissals, giving you a fresh lease on life. The key? Partnering with the right legal expert.

At Inland Empire Defense, our Ontario HS 11377 attorney has an impressive history of steering clients away from the perils of drug-related convictions. With a blend of knowledge, expertise, and dedication, we’re committed to crafting the best defense strategy tailored for you.

Act now to reclaim your future. Reach out to a trusted Rancho Cucamonga Criminal Defense Attorney at Inland Empire Defense. Call 909-939-7126 to begin your defense journey. Remember, we’re right here in Ontario, making the first step towards clearing your name all the more convenient.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Yes, Inland Empire Criminal Defense offers free consultations. This is part of our commitment to providing accessible and transparent legal services to residents of Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties.

We offer both in-person and over-the-phone consultations to accommodate your preferences and needs. Whether you’re in Riverside, San Bernardino, or Los Angeles County, we ensure that you can access our legal services in the way that suits you best.

Our office is typically closed on weekends. However, we do make exceptions for meetings by special arrangement. Our commitment is to be as accommodating as possible to meet the unique needs of our clients in Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties.

Our legal services are specifically tailored to residents of Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties. For cases outside these areas, we recommend consulting to find appropriate legal assistance. Our focused approach allows us to provide specialized defense catering to the unique legal landscape of these counties.

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