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Under the Influence of Drugs (CS)
HS 11550(a) Law & Defense

Information on the crime of being under the influence of a controlled substance is found at Health and Safety code section 11550(a). A controlled substance is a drug that is regulated by the government, in part because of the drug's high tendency to be abused due to its addictive characteristics, and which is prescribed by a physician.

11550(a): It is illegal to use or be under the influence of a controlled substance (Abbrev.). A list of controlled substances is provided at HS 11550(a), 11504, 11505. This list includes, but is not limited to schedule 3, 4, and 5 drugs.

The term under the influence means that the drug is having a pharmaceutical affect on the user's  physical or mental state.

Exception: It is not a crime to use or be under the influence of a controlled substance if the controlled substance is administered by a doctor licensed by the state to dispense, prescribe, or administer the controlled substance. However, a person under the influence of a controlled substance that falls under this exception can be criminal liable if he or she in under that controlled substance while operating a vehicle, plane, bicycle, etc.
Jail: HS 11550(a) is classified as a misdemeanor. If the defendant is found guilty of HS 11550(a), he or she may be sentenced to jail for up to one year.
Probation Sentence: The court may place a person convicted of HS 11550(a) on probation for up to five years. Probation is a period of supervision instead of probation. Probation can include alternatives to jail, such as work release or house arrest (electronic monitoring). Probation for HS 11550(a) convictions is monitor by the court and is commonly known as informal or summary probation.
Work Release: Work release is form of manual labor, such as picking up trash around highways or jails. Work release is a common jail alternative in HS 11550(a) cases if the defendant is sentenced to probation with a probation sentence that includes a jail sentence. House arrest, or electrical monitoring is another common alternative to a jail sentence.
PC 4019: The defendant may be entitled to reduce his or her jail or work release sentence by up to fifty percent (50%) for good behavior while in jail or while on work release.
Drug Offense Registration: If convicted of HS 11550(a) the defendant may be required to register as a drug offender with local law enforcement.
CIMT: The crime of being under the influence of a controlled substance is not a crime involving moral turpitude. 
Drug Treatment Program: The court may permit a person convicted of HS 11550(a) to complete a licensed drug rehabilitation program in lieu of jail (HS 11550(c)(1) Abbrev.).
Note: If the defendant is unlawfully under the influence of cocaine, cocaine base, heroin, methamphetamine, or phencyclidine, while in the immediate personal possession of a loaded, operable firearm, may be punished by  imprisonment in a county jail for not exceeding one year or in state prison (HS 1150(e)(1) Abbrev.). Immediate personal possession includes, but is not limited to, the interior passenger compartment of a motor vehicle HS 11550(e)(2).
Bail: $5,000 (San Bernaridno County 2020). Bail is a money or property surety bond that is posted with the court, usually through a bail agent, that is intended to serve as assurance that the defendant will appear in court as ordered during the criminal process. If the defendant fails to appear in court as promised, he or she forfeits the bail. Bail may be increased or decreased by a judge based on several factors, including the defendant's criminal history. 
In addition to the penalties included above, if the defendant i found guilty of being under the influence of a controlled substance , he or she may suffer any of the following punishments: fines and court fees, criminal protective orders, denial of entry into the military, loss of immigration status or a professional license (dentist, lawyer, doctor, etc.), and more.

If you have been arrested or charged with being under the influence of a controlled substance, or HS 11550(a), , contact out criminal defense lawyers today for a free consultation. Our criminal defense lawyers have successfully handled hundreds of felony and misdemeanor cases in the Inland Empire. Call today!



Quick Legal Reference​

Crime: Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance

Code: HS 11550(a) (CalCrim No. 2400)

Wobbler: No. HS 11550(a) is not a wobbler. This means that HS 11550(a) is charged only as a misdemeanor.​


Incarceration: ​HS 11550(a) jail sentence up to 1 year.

Probation: Probation is allowed in HS 11550(a) cases (assuming other crimes or enhancements that bar a probation sentence are not present). Whether or not a probation sentence is offered by the District Attorney, or granted by the court, depends on several factors, including the defendant's criminal history and the facts of the case.​​

Work Release or House Arrest: In some cases, a probation sentence can include actual in-custody county jail, house arrest (electronic monitoring), or work release (or some combination of these penalties); however, most in-custody jail sentence orders that are required as a terms of probation are much shorter than the maximum jail sentence.

Strike: HS 11550(a) is not a strike offense listed in California's Three Strikes law.

Credits: 50% good conduct credits available.

CIMT: ​HS 11550(a) is not a crime involving moral turpitude.


Registration: If convicted of HS 11550(a), defendant will have to register as a drug offender with local law enforcement. 

Bail: $5,000 (San Bernardino County)

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