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Charged With Being Under the Influence of Drugs in OC?

Under the Influence of Drugs - California Health and Safety Code (HSC) 11550

If you have you been charged with being under the influence of drugs and are now looking for a way to beat the charges, it is vital you have a skilled Orange County drug crime defense attorney on your side. At Law Office of Michael L. Guisti, our legal team can help you through the process and work to get your charges reduced or dismissed. We understand there could be a variety of reasons why you were under the influence of drugs—including the usage of prescription medication.

Understanding the Charge

California Health and Safety Code (HSC) 11550, which is sometimes known as using and/or being under the influence, regulates drug use, so you're likely being prosecuted under this section for willfully using or being under the influence of a controlled substance or an illegally-obtained drug.

A controlled substance can be a prescription drug or any illegal drug; however, marijuana is excluded from this law. If you were legally using a prescription drug prescribed to you, you cannot be charged under HSC 11550. However, if you were driving while under the influence of the prescription medication, you could possibly be charged with DUID.

To convict you, the DA must prove one of the following things:

  • You used a controlled substance or narcotic drug
  • You were under the influence of a controlled substance or narcotic drug

Were You Convicted of Using Drugs?

For Orange County prosecutors to convict you of using a drug, your use of the drug must be immediately prior to arrest, per Bosco v. Justice Court of Exeter-Farmersville Judicial District. The problem with this is that it is unclear what defines or meets the criteria of current use or immediate use prior to arrest, and subsequently, most pending charges are determined on a case-by-case basis.

There have been cases where suspects have been charged with using within three to four days of their arrest, which is why it's important to contact an Orange County drug defense lawyer right away, so they can talk directly to the DA's office and examine evidence against you.

According to People v. Jones, current use means you haven't entered withdrawal, but if you're undergoing withdrawals at the time of your arrest, you're entitled to an acquittal of this charge.

Under the Influence of Drugs

Unlike DUI charges, where police need to show some kind of misconduct and impairment due to being under the influence to be charged, HSC 11550 simply requires you to be under the influence of a controlled substance to be arrested and charged. If you were never under the influence of drugs, there could be a variety of reasons why police may have thought you were. There are various physical symptoms that mimic signs of being under the influence of drugs such as being ill or suffering from a physiological condition.

If the police officers don't find any drugs or drug paraphernalia on you and they didn't bother to take a blood test to confirm their suspicions, it's going to be difficult for the District Attorney's office to press charges against you. Many times, police will take the suspect in because they looked a certain way and when they ran a check, prior arrests or charges came up, so they assume, without doing any test, you must be under the influence again.

Under HSC 11550, if you possess a legal prescription and used the drug as prescribed, you may be exempt from prosecution. However, if you have a variety of prescriptions for the same drug, you may be prosecuted under California's doctor shopping law. In regards to involuntary intoxication, for a HSC 11550 conviction, you must have willingly volunteered to use said drug. If you were drugged by another individual, however, or mistakenly given the wrong medication, you cannot not be guilty of this offense.

Under the Influence Convictions in Orange County

If it is determined you being under the influence is a misdemeanor, you may be facing possible jail time. Those convicted of HSC 11550 face anywhere between 90 days and one year in an Orange County jail, up to five years of informal probation, drug counseling, and community service. If this is your third conviction within seven years of your first conviction and you have refused court-appointed drug treatment, you can be sentenced to a minimum of 180 days in the county jail, per HSC 11550.

Get Help Now!

You may think you can talk to the judge and explain yourself and the situation, and the judge will have a sympathetic ear. The reality is that most judges will see you as just another criminal who broke the law, which is why you need a lawyer to talk on your behalf. At Law Office of Michael L. Guisti, our top-rated lawyer can explain the complexities of your charges and help minimize or eliminate your charges. We have more than a decade of successfully defending clients against all types of drug charges in courts throughout Southern California, so contact us at (714) 530-9690 for unparalleled legal assistance and representation.

Additional Information

Whether you're facing a felony or a misdemeanor, don't risk a conviction. Act quickly to redeem your reputation and protect your record by consulting with our Orange County criminal defense lawyer. Call today to schedule your free consultation.

(714) 530-9690

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