Criminal Defense: HS 11550

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Health and Safety Code 11550

What is HS 11550

Health and Safety code section 11550 is a statute regulating personal drug use.  It covers the willful and intentional use of certain drugs described in this article,

Substances covered under HS 11550

The substances covered under HS 11550 include both legal and illegal substances.


Opium derivatives- such as heroine and morphine.

Hallucinogenic substances- such as Marijuana (aka pot, weed, etc.) and Peyote.


Cocaine, or a cocaine base



Violation of HS 11500

To violate HS 11550, the prosecutor must prove that you had a detectable amount in your system.  They do not need to prove that you were influenced by the substance or acting in any manner because of it.  They need only prove that it was in your system.  The burden then shifts to you to prove a defense, as will be addressed later in this article.

Penalties for Violation of HS 11550

90 days to 1 year in county jail, if charged as a misdemeanor

Informal probation for 3 to 5 years

Drug counseling


Diversion program eligible

Gun enhancement: If you are found with access to a loaded weapon, you will be subject to county jail for up to 1 year.  If the court determines that you are addicted to a substance, then it will be charged as a felony.

Second conviction: prison for 2, 3 or 4 years

Defenses to HS 11550

You were taking the substance pursuant to the direction of a medical practitioner who is capable of prescribing such substances.

You did not know they were narcotic substances.  This defense comes in under the involuntary intoxication defense, where you did not voluntarily use the substance.

Improper search/lack of probable cause for the arrest.

You were not under the influence of the substance.  This defense works if the evidence against you is weak (i.e. the officer did not take blood).

Contact the Law Office of Stephanie M. Arrache, a criminal defense firm, if you have any questions about Health & Safety Code (HS) 11550.

Law Office of Stephanie M. Arrache

A Criminal Defense Firm

PO Box 3297

Palm Springs, CA 92262

Office: (760) 237-8295

Cell: (760) 668-8295

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