Orange County Criminal Defense

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Marijuana Offenses

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Newport Beach Marijuana Attorney

Overview of Marijuana Offenses

Although marijuana is a controlled substance, marijuana is treated differently than all the other controlled substances. California voters have passed legislation that treats marijuana possession more leniently than other drugs. However, people can still be charged with felonies by aggressive police officers and immigration consequences for marijuana offenses are still severe.


Health and Safety Code section 11357 prohibits the possession of marijuana. Possession of an ounce of marijuana or less is an infraction, punishable by Health and Safety Code section 11357(b), with a maximum punishment of a $100 fine. However possession of an ounce of marijuana or less on school grounds is considered a misdemeanor, with differing punishments if a person is an adult or a juvenile. Possession of more than an ounce, a violation of Health and Safety Code section 11357(c), is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in the county jail.

Planting, Harvesting, Cultivating Marijuana

Health and Safety Code section 11358 prohibits any person from planting, harvesting or cultivating marijuana, except as otherwise provided by law. This crime is a felony punishable by up to three years state prison.

Possession for Sale of Marijuana

Health and Safety Code section 11359 prohibits anybody from possessing marijuana for sale, except as provided by law. This crime is a felony punishable by up to three years state prison.

Transportation & Sale of Marijuana

Health and Safety Code section 11360 states:

(a) Except as otherwise provided by this section or as authorized by law, every person who transports, imports into this state, sells, furnishes, administers, or gives away, or offers to transport, import into this state, sell, furnish, administer, or give away, or attempts to import into this state or transport any marijuana shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a period of two, three or four years.

(b) Except as authorized by law, every person who gives away, offers to give away, transports, offers to transport, or attempts to transport not more than 28.5 grams of marijuana, other than concentrated cannabis, is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars ($100).

Marijuana Crimes Can Be Dangerous

Although possessing an ounce or less of marijuana is a minor crime, the police can make it a serious crime by charging you with possession for sale or transportation. A person can be charged with felony possession for sale or felony transportation, even if they possess less than an ounce of marijuana. This is why it’s so important to hire an attorney who knows how these crimes are prosecuted and how the charges can be reduced or dismissed.

Other Consequences

Not only can a controlled substance conviction lead to criminal penalties, but it can also have drastic employment, licensing and immigration consequences. Having a controlled substance conviction can prevent a person from finding a job or lead to a person being fired from their current job. Furthermore, many professions that require licensing from a state board, such as doctors, nurses, lawyers, contractors, teachers, real estate agents and stock brokers, all require background checks. A professional who has a possession for sale conviction on their record risks losing their professional license, or never acquiring it in the first place. Perhaps the most severe impact of a possession of a controlled substance conviction involves immigration consequences. Non-citizens who are permanent residents (green card holders) or temporary visitors, with a student visa or work visa, can be denied admission, denied naturalization or even deported, with any type of drug-related conviction on their record. In fact, drug-related convictions are considered one of the worst convictions for immigration consequences.

The Right Lawyer

Choosing the right criminal defense lawyer will be the most important decision someone can make when facing drug-related charges. Many people who face possession for sale are good people who made a mistake or exercised poor judgment. There are also some people who have been wrongfully accused of possession for sale or transportation of a controlled substance, based on a misunderstanding or false evidence. You need an attorney who will listen to your side of the story carefully, who will evaluate the evidence thoroughly, who will negotiate with the judge and the District Attorney’s office skillfully, and who will fight in trial aggressively. You need an attorney like Fred Thiagarajah.

As a former Deputy District Attorney, Fred Thiagarajah has the negotiating skills and trial experience necessary to get the best results for his clients. As a prosecutor, Fred Thiagarajah handled thousands of marijuana-related cases. He now uses his specialized knowledge of possession, possession for sale and transportation of marijuana to get the best possible outcomes for his clients. For an example of his work, please see his case results and read his client testimonials. With offices in Newport Beach, Long Beach, Murrieta, Riverside and Rancho Cucamonga, Fred Thiagarajah has criminal defense experience in Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.

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