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California Health and Safety Code Section 11550 HSC: Under The Influence Of Drugs

While most people know that it’s illegal to possess a controlled substance, many don’t realize that it’s also considered a crime to be under the influence of a controlled substance, according to California Health and Safety Code Section 11550 HSC: Under The Influence Of Drugs.

For the prosecution to prove that the defendant was guilty, they must how that the defendant illegally and purposely used the substance shortly before they were arrested, or that they were under the influence at the time of their arrest.

You are deemed under the influence if you took or used illegal drugs that affected your nervous system, muscles or brain, or that made your physical or mental condition obviously atypical.

An example of this would be if police officers were called because there was a woman who seemed to be unconscious in a car. When the police arrive, they have to forcibly wake the woman up. When she wakes up, she seems to be both mentally and physically impaired, similar to how someone under the influence would act. On the seat next to the woman is an empty plastic bag with what looks like powdery remnants that look suspicious. The woman agrees to blood testing and it’s discovered that she has taken cocaine. She could be charged with a crime that violates 11550 HSC.

When it comes to how much time has to go by between when the person took the substance and when they were arrested, there isn’t any clear rule. Often, California courts have felt that drug use up to 48 hours before arrest satisfies the statute.

There are two offenses that are related to California Health and Safety Code Section 11550 HSC: Under The Influence Of Drugs: Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol (California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) VC) and Possession of a Controlled Substance (California Health & Safety Code Section 11350 HSC).

Defenses

If you had a prescription for the substance and the prescription was attained legally, or if you were under the influence of marijuana, you would not be found guilty under California Health and Safety Code Section 11550 HSC: Under The Influence Of Drugs. Another reason why a person wouldn’t be convicted is if they unknowingly ingested an illegal substance, like if someone slipped something into their drink. If the victim is charged with under the influence, their defense may include that they were involuntarily intoxicated, as they weren’t aware that they were taking a drug.

An example of a situation wouldn’t result in a criminal charge is the following: a young man is taken into custody because the police officers feel that he is likely intoxicated. The man seems to be sick and he doesn’t know exactly where he is. The police officers find out that the man stopped taking drugs a few days prior and that his symptoms are that of withdrawal, not being under the influence. Going through withdrawal is not in violation of the code.

Penalties

Being charged with being under the influence is considered a misdemeanor offense, but just because it’s not a felony doesn’t mean it doesn’t have serious penalties. A person convicted of this crime faces a minimum sentence of 90 days in jail, and a maximum sentence of one year. They might also be required to attend treatment or to complete a certain amount of community service or labor. A person who has prior convictions for the same offense, and if those charges were within the past seven years, may spend a minimum of 180 days in jail. For some people, going to a treatment or rehab program is a way to avoid time in jail.

Criminal Defense

If you have been charged with being under the influence, it’s important to contact a criminal defense attorney right away.


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2021-02-26
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I'm very satisfied with the services rendered by Todd, Alex and Mary Lou. I whole heartedly recommend Spodek Law Group . I've worked with and have retained other attorneys in the past with Todd's firm being the cream of the crop for many reasons. A very serious legal matter was resolved after a year's hard work and effort. Todd expertly guided me through the process and was able to navigate and make the good journey bearable as well as successful. Mary Lou initially provided excellent assistance before referring my case to Todd. Alex's support was effective and timely. The customer portal (MyCase) is an invaluable communication tool that also kept track of my case. Various aspects of my case were explained and there were several options provided but I made the final decision of how the case would be handled. The legal fee was reasonable considering the effort and amount of work plus it was a flat fee regardless of the length of time required to conclude my case. Todd made himself available to me and we had many scheduled meetings to go over the progress and to discuss the next steps. I felt more confident after many discussions with him. You will not go wrong choosing Spodek Law Group for legal matters.
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Being that it was the first time that I was in need of an attorney, I was afraid and hesitant and knew I needed the absolute best. It is beyond understood why Spodek Law Group has a reputation of being the top, if not the best law firm in New York. Alex and Abigail were there every step of the way even at the most unconvenient hours. I could not have asked for more. They are extremely good at what they do and they delivered much much more than just winning my case. A big thank you to Alex and Abigail for all the guidance and counseling and their upmost loyal support that extended far more than just legally. If you need the absolute best than don't hesitate to hire Spodek Law Firm.
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L.C.
2021-02-24
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I cannot tell you how thankful I am to Todd and Alex for their hard work and dedication to my case. I had never been in any trouble before but I had an unfortunate event occur and in the midst of COVID-19 at that therefore I knew I needed a team that was dedicated to my success. Today- my case has been finalized and I’m walking away with no record and can continue life as a mother and a Grad student worry free. I cannot express enough gratitude for their assistance.
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2021-02-23
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I received a summons and called Spodek law group for a free consultation. Alex took my call and was very quick and responsive. He was available anytime through multiple platforms and very reassuring when needed. They are extremely organized and thorough. They got my case dismissed! I’m very grateful. Thank you Alex and Todd!

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