The maximum penalty-whether it’s a misdemeanor or felony-always includes some county jail or state prison time, and typically includes some fine exposure but the exact amount of exposure varies on the type of crime charged. Most possession misdemeanors have a 1 year county jail exposure while felony exposure can include several years of state prison time.
If someone does not receive a diversion program for a misdemeanor they may get a probation offer with little to no jail time and add-on terms like participating in a treatment program, completing community service, and a search clause. Oftentimes, there will also be conditions that they can’t own, use, possess or be in the presence of illegal narcotics, known drug users or people who are known for dealing drugs. For the most part, there are always alternatives to jail that a skilled defense attorney is going to be focused on getting for their client. For felonies, the penalties are either state prison, county jail, or a jail alternative like an in-patient program of electronic monitoring and probation.
Unless the person had a large amount of drugs on them, a past conviction or there was a weapon involved, state prison time and even county jail time can typically be negotiated away for first time offenders and replaced with straight probation or a jail alternative. If a person receives probation, it usually lasts for five years. After a probation term is successfully completed to the end and the required amount of time has passed, it’s possible to apply for a motion to dismiss.
First time misdemeanor offenders may also have the option for a post-plea deferred entry of judgment resolution, which means that a judgment would not be entered against a person if they attend programs and stay out of trouble for a certain period of time (usually 12 months). If they fail during that time period, then they’ll be automatically convicted of the drug offense. Collaborative Drug Court is also an option – where the case will be dismissed, sealed, and destroyed upon successful completion of the program which includes drug testing, drug counseling, and frequent reporting to court for progress reports.