Criminal charges for a simple possession (possession for personal use) of prescription drugs and narcotics, without a prescription from a physician or some other licensed pro-fessional, are frequently prosecuted as misdemeanors under California Business & Pro-fessions Code §4060. However, prosecutors do have and exercise discretion to charge and punish possession for personal use as felonies under various sections of the Cali-fornia Health & Safety Code. For example, simple possession of vicodin, also known as hydrocodone, is potentially punishable as a felony by up to three (3) years of imprison-ment in state prison under California Health & Safety Code §11350(a). Similarly, pos-session of Xanax (alpraprozam) can be a felony and bring on a three (3) year state prison sentence under California Health & Safety Code §11377(a).

Sale, transportation or possession with intent to sell prescription drugs is certain to re-sult in felony charges potentially punishable by sentences similar to sentences given for distribution of illicit drugs.

If you are facing a criminal investigation, or criminal charges for possession of prescrip-tion drugs or narcotics, or any other controlled substance, have already been filed against you, a friend or a family member, we advise you most strongly to contact a crim-inal defense attorney in order to thoroughly evaluate your situation and explore your options. It is possible that an investigation or charges against you might be dismissed because the evidence against you was obtained by an illegal search and seizure, or some other reason. In the event chances for complete dismissal of the criminal charges are not great, you should know about your options for alternative pleas and sentencing. For example, you should know that first time drug and narcotics offenders, and individu-als who do not have a significant past criminal record, especially in situations involving simple possession for personal use, are often eligible to be sentenced to a drug treat-ment program without serving any time in county jail or state prison. Alternative sen-tencing options include programs such as the state financed Deferred Entry of Judg-ment (DEJ) also known as PC 1000, Proposition 36 or a private outpatient or residential treatment program of your choice if approved by the Court. You also might be eligible for formal or informal (also known as summary) probation with or without a treatment program. Probation might include some custody in county, city or private jail.

California Business & Professions Code §4060 provides the following:

No person shall possess any controlled substance, except that furnished to a person upon the prescription of a physician, dentist, podiatrist, optometrist, veterinarian, or na-turopathic doctor pursuant to Section 3640.7, or furnished pursuant to a drug order is-sued by a certified nurse-midwife pursuant to Section 2746.51, a nurse practitioner pur-suant to Section 2836.1, a physician assistant pursuant to Section 3502.1, a naturo-pathic doctor pursuant to Section 3640.5, or a pharmacist pursuant to either Section 4052.1 or 4052.2. This section shall not apply to the possession of any controlled sub-stance by a manufacturer, wholesaler, pharmacy, pharmacist, physician, podiatrist, den-tist, optometrist, veterinarian, naturopathic doctor, certified nurse-midwife, nurse practi-tioner, or physician assistant, when in stock in containers correctly labeled with the name and address of the supplier or producer.

Nothing in this section authorizes a certified nurse-midwife, a nurse practitioner, a phy-sician assistant, or a naturopathic doctor, to order his or her own stock of dangerous drugs and devices.