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California Cocaine Laws

California cocaine laws became less rigid after voters approved Proposition 36 in 2000. The measure, encoded in Penal Code Section 1000, establishes special drug courts and gives non-violent drug crime defendants the option of getting treatment in exchange for supervised probation. Those with prior records may receive 30- to 90-day county jail sentences for possession, instead of felony charges with a likelihood of state prison time.

Possible Defenses

There are a number of possible defenses to the crime of cocaine possession in California.

The basic provisions of California cocaine laws are listed in the table below. See FindLaw's Drug Charges section and Details on State Cocaine Laws to learn more.

Code Section Health & Safety §11000, et seq. §11350, et seq.
  • Misdemeanor or felony; up to 3 yrs in state prison (felony supervised probation with a guilty plea in most cases)
  • Possibility of Prop 36 sentencing
Sale State prison 2-4 yrs.; Possession for sale of "cocaine base": 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; Anyone over 18 yrs who sells to a minor at least 4 years younger as a full and separate enhancement shall be punished by imprisonment in state prison for 3, 4 or 5 yrs. Sale on many public areas punishable by state prison for 5, 7, or 9 yrs. if seller 5 yrs. older than minor
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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California Cocaine Laws: Related Resources

Charged with Violating California Cocaine Laws? Contact an Attorney

Have you been arrested for possession of cocaine? While the laws are relatively straightforward, your defense may not be. The prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you knowingly possessed cocaine. While that sounds easy enough, oftentimes there are several legal defenses available to you. Explore your options by speaking with a drug crime lawyer in California today.

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