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California Health And Safety Code 11377(a) - Possession Of Meth


Possession of methamphetamine under California Health and Safety Code Section 11377(a) HS, is considered a criminal act. To secure a conviction under California Health and Safety Code Section 11377(a), the prosecutor needs to provide evidence that you unlawfully possessed a controlled substance, were aware of its existence, knew that it was a controlled substance, and that the amount in your possession was enough for use.

This section applies specifically to the possession of methamphetamine; different laws address more serious methamphetamine-related offenses, such as possession with intent to sell, sale, transportation, or manufacture. These offenses tend to carry harsher penalties.

Before Proposition 47 was passed, possessing methamphetamine without additional aggravating factors could result in a felony conviction and the possibility of serving time in state prison.

However, since Prop 47 was passed, cases of HS 11377(a) methamphetamine possession are often charged as misdemeanors. Nonetheless, some situations may still result in felony charges for methamphetamine possession.

11377 HS: (a) Except as authorized by law and as otherwise provided in subdivision (b) or Section 11375, or in Article 7 (commencing with Section 4211) of Chapter 9 of Division 2 of the Business and Professions Code, every person who possesses any controlled substance which is (1) classified in Schedule III, IV, or V, and which is not a narcotic drug, (2) specified in subdivision (d) of Section 11054, except paragraphs (13), (14), (15), and (20) of subdivision (d), (3) specified in paragraph (11) of subdivision (c) of Section 11056, (4) specified in paragraph (2) or (3) of subdivision (f) of Section 11054, or (5) specified in subdivision (d), (e), or (f) of Section 11055, unless upon the prescription of a physician, dentist, podiatrist, or veterinarian, licensed to practice in this state, shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail for a period of not more than one year, except that such person may instead be punished pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 of the Penal Code if that person has one or more prior convictions for an offense specified in clause (iv) of subparagraph (C) of paragraph (2) of subdivision (e) of Section 667 of the Penal Code or for an offense requiring registration pursuant to subdivision (c) of Section 290 of the Penal Code.

(b) The judge may assess a fine not to exceed seventy dollars ($70) against any person who violates subdivision (a), with the proceeds of this fine to be used in accordance with Section 1463.23 of the Penal Code. The court shall, however, take into consideration the defendant’s ability to pay, and no defendant shall be denied probation because of his or her inability to pay the fine permitted under this subdivision.

(c) It is not unlawful for a person other than the prescription holder to possess a controlled substance described in subdivision (a) if both of the following apply:

(1) The possession of the controlled substance is at the direction or with the express authorization of the prescription holder.

(2) The sole intent of the possessor is to deliver the prescription to the prescription holder for its prescribed use or to discard the substance in a lawful manner.

(d) This section does not permit the use of a controlled substance by a person other than the prescription holder or permit the distribution or sale of a controlled substance that is otherwise inconsistent with the prescription.


What is Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine is commonly referred to by names such as:

  • Meth
  • Crystal
  • Crystal Meth
  • Speed
  • Blow
  • Rock
  • Tina
  • Chalk
  • Ice
  • Glass
  • Crank

The Controlled Substances Act regulates any drug whose manufacture or possession is considered illegal. Find the list of controlled substances California .

Elements of Health and Safety Code 11377 A HS charge

To convict you of methamphetamine possession under Health and Safety Code 11377, the prosecutor needs to prove all the elements of the crime as listed in CALCRIM 2304 Jury Instructions. These elements include:

  • You had actual or constructive possession of methamphetamine, meaning you had control over it or shared possession with others.
  • You were aware that the substance you possessed was methamphetamine.
  • You knew that the substance was present and you knew it was a controlled substance.
  • There was a sufficient amount of methamphetamine for it to be used.

“Possession” can take different forms, such as actual possession, constructive possession, or joint possession. You can face prosecution under Health and Safety Code 11377 for possessing methamphetamine in any of these ways. This means that even if you simply had control over the methamphetamine or shared possession with others, it could still be considered illegal possession.

According to the elements of the crime mentioned above, it is necessary for the prosecutor to prove that you were aware of the presence of the drug and knew that it was a controlled substance. In simple terms, if you were unaware that you had methamphetamine or if you didn’t know it was a controlled substance, you should not be convicted of violating HS 11377(a).

Additionally, a “usable amount” refers to an amount that is more than just residue and is enough to potentially produce a high effect.

Please note: Medical professionals, including doctors, pharmacists, and veterinarians, do not violate HS 11377 when they possess methamphetamines in accordance with the laws of California and the federal government.

Penalties For Possession Of Methamphetamine

In most cases, possessing methamphetamine in violation of HS 11377(a) is considered a misdemeanor crime. The consequences of a misdemeanor conviction for possessing methamphetamine can include a jail sentence of up to one year in a county jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.


However, if you have a prior conviction on your record for certain serious felonies, such as murder, sexually violent offenses, sex crimes against a child under 14, or gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, or if you have a prior conviction for a sex crime that requires you to register as a sex offender in California under Penal Code Section 290, you can face felony penalties for possessing methamphetamine. These felony penalties can include a jail sentence of 16 months or two to three years.

Even if there is no intention to sell, possessing significant quantities of methamphetamine can lead to severe prison sentences.

For example: If the prosecution will prove that you were in possession of more than one kilogram or methamphetamine, you can face an additional three to fifteen years in state prison in excess of the normal sentence.

In cases of first-time, personal use amount methamphetamine possession, there are various diversionary sentences available. These may include drug court, Proposition 36, and Deferred Entry of Judgment under Penal Code Section 1000. While the specifics of these programs differ, the outcome is generally similar.

How To Fight Health And Safety Code 11377(A) Charges

At Tabibnia Law Firm, Mr. Cyrus Tabibnia has extensive experience representing individuals charged with drug offenses, including possession of methamphetamine under Health and Safety Code 11377 A HS. Here are some common defenses that have proven effective:

  • Valid Prescription: If the lawyer can demonstrate that you had a valid prescription for the methamphetamine and the amount in your possession was consistent with the prescription’s purpose, no crime has been committed. He can use your medical records and forensic evidence to prove this.
  • Lack of Knowledge: It is possible to have the charges dropped if he proves that you were not aware of the methamphetamine and that it belonged to someone else. This could occur if someone planted it on you or left it at your residence without your knowledge. In that case surveillance video and eyewitness accounts can be used to prove this.
  • Unlawful Search and Seizure: For the police to conduct a search of your person or property, they usually need a valid search warrant supported by probable cause. However, some warrantless searches can be valid under certain exceptions. If the attorney can prove that the search violated your constitutional rights, he can ask the judge to suppress any unlawfully discovered evidence.
  • Lawful Delivery or Disposal: California Health & Safety Code 11377 allows for a defense if you were delivering methamphetamine to a prescription holder or disposing of it lawfully on their behalf, and you did not personally use, distribute, or sell it.

Immigration Consequences:

The immigration consequences of a conviction under California Health and Safety Code 11377(a) for possession of methamphetamine can vary. It is important to consult with an immigration attorney for personalized advice in your specific situation.


In some cases, if the specific California substance is not identified on the record, it is possible to have an immigration defense. However, certain drug offenses such as §§ 11377-11379 may include substances not on the federal list, creating a disparity between state and federal drug laws. This disparity can potentially be used as a defense in immigration proceedings.

It is recommended to refer to resources provided by reputable legal organizations such as the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) for more detailed information on the immigration consequences of specific California drug offenses.


If you or someone you know is charged with Health and Safety Code 11377 A HS crime, it is strongly advisable that you also consult with an immigration lawyer. If you do not have or know of an immigration lawyer, the Tabibnia Law Firm can refer you to one.

Difference Between 11350 and 11377

A key distinction between them lies in how they are typically charged. California Health and Safety Code Section 11350 HS is usually filed as a felony offense, unless the drug in question falls under a specific category of barbiturates. On the other hand, section 11377 allows for the possibility of being charged as a misdemeanor.

Related Offenses

Call Tabibnia Law Firm For Drug Crime Cases

If you or anyone you know is facing Health and Safety Code Section 11377(a) HS charges for possessing methamphetamine, the penalties can vary based on the amount possessed. Possessing over one kilogram could result in a lengthy prison sentence. To ensure the best possible outcome, it is recommended to seek the help of an experienced criminal defense team.

Tabibnia Law Firm, led by Cyrus Tabibnia Drug crime lawyer in Los Angeles, has the necessary expertise to assist with both pre-filing and court representation stages of such cases. His aggressive advocacy approach aims to protect your rights and increase the likelihood of a successful outcome. Call (866) 713-2159 for a free case evaluation.

If you have been arrested on drug-related charges, Understand the drug offender registry in California and consult with an experienced Los Angeles drug crime attorney from Tabibnia Law Firm.

Tabibnia Law Firm is a elite criminal defense law firm serving its clients throughout Southern California including Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Orange County, Beverly Hills, San Fernando Valley, Ventura county, Riverside County, Sherman Oaks, Encino, Pasadena, Burbank, Glendale, Long Beach, Palmdale, Santa Clarita, Monterey Park, La Puente, Van Nuys, Pomona, Manhattan Beach, West Covina, Whittier, Downey, Woodland Hills, Norwalk, Torrance, Redondo Beach, San Bernardino, Walnut Creek, Inglewood, Lancaster, Westlake Village and nearby areas.

Cyrus Tabibnia

Cyrus Tabibnia

Cyrus Tabibnia, also known as Shahrooz Tabibnia, is a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles, California. With a law degree from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, he has been practicing law since 2005 and holds license #237348. With over 18 years of experience, Cyrus specializes in various misdemeanor and felony criminal Law including Domestic Violence, Theft Crime, Sex crime, DUI & DWI, Personal Injury, Employment Law, and Cannabis & Marijuana Drugs Law. Being bilingual in English, Persian, and Spanish enables him to effectively communicate with a diverse range of clients. From 2014 to 2018, he served as a board member of the Iranian American Bar Association. An expungement attorney in Los Angeles who can assist you in clearing your criminal record in the state of California.

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