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What Are the Penalties for Cocaine Possession in California?

Mar 6, 2018 | Firm News

The possession of cocaine is one of the most common drug prosecutions in California. You can be charged for possession even if cocaine is not on you. As long as there is evidence that you had control over the drug, you can be charged with possession. The penalties for cocaine possession depend almost entirely on the quantity of the drug you have. Small amounts of cocaine possession will oftentimes lead to a simple possession charge. Large amounts can lead to the more serious charge of “possession for sale”. Even if you have a small amount of cocaine, you can be charged with possession to sell if police have evidence that you were planning on selling the drug or giving it to someone.

Cocaine charges can many times lead to jail time, loss of employment, and denial of professional licenses. Any individual who is detained by police in connection with cocaine possession should contact the experienced drug possession defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Michael A. Scafiddi immediately at 909-381-1000. We have offices in San Bernardino, Temecula and San Diego to serve our clients throughout Southern California.


Cocaine is a schedule II controlled substance which makes it lawful to be used or prescribed by licensed healthcare professionals. Crack-cocaine is a Schedule I controlled substance that has no approved medical use. This means there is no prescription that can be written for crack like there could be for cocaine. However, cocaine is almost never prescribed and it’s almost always illegal to possess it, regardless of the form that it takes.

Simple Possession Penalties

Simple possession crimes are charged when an individual is accused of possessing cocaine without any intent to transfer it to another person. This typically means the individual in possession has the drug for personal use. This crime is a misdemeanor that can be punished by a sentence of up to one year in county jail. If the accused has a prior conviction, this crime can be charged as a felony. A sentence for the felony charge can be 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years. With an experienced defense attorney, a person may qualify for a drug diversion program that allows them to receive drug treatment rather than a conviction.

Possession for Sale Penalties

Prosecutors will typically charge the crime of possession for sale if they feel the accused was planning on selling, giving away, or transferring possession of the drug. The amount of the drug found by officers plays an important role on determining whether it was possessed for sale or for personal use. Possession for sale of cocaine is punishable by a jail sentence of 2, 3, or 4 years. Drug diversion programs are not an option but probation is an alternative.

The attorneys at the Law Office of Michael A. Scafiddi can help negotiate a charge of possession for sale to a charge of simple possession.  Simple possession carries less severe punishment and leaves open the option of drug diversion.

If you are facing criminal drug possession charges, consult with our criminal defense attorneys in San Bernardino, Temecula and San Diego so they can fully explain the law and protect your rights. Committed to your defense, The Law Offices of Michael A. Scafiddi have been providing professional advocacy in various types of civil and criminal matters throughout Southern California. We provide legal services for criminal defense matters ranging from misdemeanor to felony offenses. These areas of practice include, but are not limited to, DUI’s, vehicular manslaughter, drug offense, theft offense, domestic violence, and post-conviction relief. Our lawyers also handle Administrative Per Se hearings with the Department of Motor Vehicles for clients facing DUI charges. Let us evaluate your case, offer honest advice, and help build a strong defense to ensure you face the minimum possible penalties. Call us today at 909-381-1000 to make an appointment.