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Drug Possession Expungement

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Drug possession charges can affect an individual for the rest of their life even after a sentence has been served or they have faced the consequences of the conviction. You can get drug charges dropped in California through the extensive expunge program that is in place and additional factors from the Arrest record relief law set for July 1, 2023.

Criteria for Drug Possession in California

In California, you can be charged if you have a controlled substance on your person or under your control (in your house, car, storage etc). You cannot be charged with possession if you have a medical prescription for the controlled substance.

Penalties for Drug Possession in California

If the drug possession is a first time misdemeanor, the punishment is usually a year in jail and a fine up to $1,000. The circumstances in each case vary, but “simple possession”- possession for personal use- typically means less jail time than possession for sale. Other factors which affect the type/amount of penalty include:

  • Type of Drug
  • Amount of Drug
  • Previous Criminal History
  • Why you had the Drug

Besides the Criminal penalties, a drug possession charge can affect a person’s life in other ways. Though AB 1008 – the “Ban the Box” law – bars employers from asking about criminal history, they can still ask when/if they offer a conditional letter of employment. If a case has been expunged then you legally do not have to disclose criminal history even after employment has been officially offered.

Can you Expunge Drug Possession conviction in California? 

Under California Penal code 1203.4 PC, it is possible to get your drug possession charges or conviction expunged from your record. An expungement under this code allows you to withdraw either a guilty or no contest plea, to then re-enter a not guilty plea, and finally to have the case dismissed. If the court grants this, the conviction will be expunged and you are freed from many of the negative consequences of this criminal conviction.

It is also important to note that after recreational marijuana was made legal, California Assembly Bill 1793 (2018) passed. This meant that the California Department of Justice should have reviewed and sealed all past marijuana convictions by July of 2020.

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When Can you Clear a Drug Possession Conviction?

If you were convicted of a misdemeanor or felony drug possession charge in the state of California you are more likely to successfully have your record cleared of this offense if you meet certain criteria. You must have successfully completed your probation and you:

  • Did not serve time in a state prison due to the criminal case
  • Did serve time in a state prison, but would have spent that time in a county jail if the same crime had been committed after Proposition 47.1 “Realignment”
  • Are not currently charged with another criminal offense
  • Are not on probation for another criminal offense
  • Are not serving a sentence for another criminal offense
  • Have never been convicted of a sex crime involving children

If you cannot meet this criteria and are not eligible for expungement, it is possible to get relief from your conviction through a certificate of Rehabilitation, a California Governor’s pardon, or by having your California prison sentence commuted.  Give us a call today and we will help determine your eligibility!

Clear your California Drug Possession Charge

The details of each individual case varies, which means the best possible strategy shifts from case to case. An experienced criminal defense attorney can analyze the unique circumstances of any case and optimize your legal defense, meaning increased likelihood of getting your drug possession charges dropped.

For expert legal defense, contact Paul Rosenbaum and Associates and boost your chances of getting your drug possession conviction cleared from your record today!

About the Author


Paul R. Rosenbaum, Esq.

A graduate of University of Southern California's Gould School of Law with over 30+ years of experience in Litigation, Real Estate law and Business law, Attorney Rosenbaum has helped hundreds of people get past difficult legal problems that caused them personal and financial stress. Paul has been recognized by the Martindale-Hubbell attorney rating company with the highest honor of AV, Preeminent Attorney. He is an active member of the State Bar of California, the Los Angeles County Bar Association and the Los Angeles Jewish Bar Association.

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