California Cocaine Law
Cocaine is classified as a Schedule II drug by criminal justice authorities, which puts it in the same category as heroin, morphine, other opiates, methamphetamine and methadone. An arrest for simple possession of a small amount of cocaine is a felony, but the court has the option of sentencing you to up to one year in jail or sending you to a probation program that includes a drug rehabilitation element of up to one year. Under the state's Proposition 36 first time drug offenders charged with possession are often sentenced to probation, subject to a variety of qualifications such as random drug testing and employment.
Possession of Cocaine for Sale
Federal penalties for cocaine possession are much more stringent and are held as advisory by California state courts. If, however, your charges are brought by a federal prosecutor the court is going to have much less flexibility in sentencing. There is also an enormous discrepancy between the amount of powdered cocaine considered evidence as intent to sell and the amount of crack, or base cocaine considered evidence of intent to sell. Possession of 500 grams of powdered cocaine will lead to an automatic charge of possession with intent to sell, while possession of only five grams of base cocaine triggers a charge of intent to sell. Possession of that small amount of base cocaine carries with it a mandatory federal sentence of five years in prison.
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