California Heroin Laws

Heroin and other narcotics remain illegal under both federal and state law. California heroin laws are not lenient, and simple possession of the drug is charged as a felony, but the state offers options for those in need of treatment. Charges for dealers and traffickers are much more serious.

Treatment For Offenders: Prop 36

California voters passed Proposition 36, the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act, in November 2000. The law (now known as SACPA) went into effect on July 1, 2001. SACPA mandates that persons arrested for non-violent drug offenses be offered opportunities for treatment instead of serving jail time.

Other Related Crimes

There are many recreational heroin users in the state of California. The euphoric effects of heroin have made it a very poplar drug. Depending on the drug's physical form, it may be intravenously injected, smoked, snorted or swallowed. Remember, being caught with hypodermic syringes, needles, or other drug paraphernalia such as a burnt spoon which are used to "cook down and inject" heroin could subject you to prosecution under California's law against possession of drug paraphernalia.

Scroll down for a basic synopsis of California heroin laws (which also pertain to morphine and other opiates). See Details on State Heroin Laws for more general information.

Code Section Health & Safety §11000, et seq.; §11350, et seq.
Possession
  • State prison and fine up to $70;
  • if probation granted, there are additional requirements

*Proposition 47 eliminated prison sentences for simple possession of heroin where there were no prior convictions, though a jail term may still be imposed.

Sale
  • Sale: State prison 2-4 yrs.;
  • Possession/purchasing for sale: State prison 3-5 yrs.;
  • Sale to minors: state prison 3, 5, or 7 yrs.;
  • Sale to day care, preschool, or school children: 5, 7, or 9 yrs.;
  • Anyone over 18 who sells to a minor or uses a minor in the sale process is punishable in state prison for 3, 6, or 9 yrs.;
  • Sale within 1000 ft. of school: additional 3, 4, or 5 yrs.;
  • If sale occurred upon the grounds of a child day care, school, church, synagogue or youth center, punishment is automatically enhanced by one year;
  • if seller is over 18 and buyer is a minor at least four years younger, then punishment is enhanced by one, two, or three years at the discretion of the court.
  • Sale on many public areas punishable by state prison for 5, 7, or 9 yrs. if seller is 5 yrs. older than minor; in addition,
  • maximum fine of $50,000
Trafficking
  • Transport/import: 3-5 yrs.;
  • County to noncontiguous county: 3, 6, or 9 yrs.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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Heroin use has a wide array of negative impacts on a person's life and the potential consequences of a prosecution for the drug's possession or sale is high among them. There are professionals of various kinds that can help you start to get better. A competent lawyer can help you with the legal part. Contact a local attorney to schedule a free initial case review to discuss your options.

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