Drug Crimes & what you need to know
In California, drug crimes involve the use, possession, distribution, manufacture or trafficking of an illegal controlled substance. No criminal area has seen a greater increase in prosecutions and new laws than drugs and narcotics. Drug trafficking busts mean lots of publicity for prosecutors and politicians and California prosecutes drug crime cases quite aggressively. Since drug crimes have some of the harshest sentencing guidelines in the criminal justice system, it is essential that you have a reliable criminal attorney at your side. If you have been charged with a drug crime, seek legal representation immediately. At LeahLegal we have the expertise and attitude you need to help beat your charges.
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POSSESSION OF DRUGS
Under California law, there are two main types of drug possession crimes. The first category involves simple possession. If someone is found in possession of a drug that is listed in the California Health and Safety Code, they can be charged with possession of a controlled substance. These substances include cannabis, heroin, cocaine – including crack cocaine, methamphetamine, barbituates, benzodiazepines, other amphetamines, LSD, PCP, psilocybin, MDMA and others.
The second type of drug possession is possession with intent to sell. If the police suspect that someone intended to sell the drugs in question, they can be charged with a much more serious crime. In addition, some substances that can be used as ingredients in the manufacturing of methamphetamine, PCP, and other illegal drugs are banned under state law, and individuals found in possession of them can be arrested.
It’s very difficult to predict what kinds of penalties an individual might face for a drug possession conviction without knowing the nature and quantity of the drug involved as well as the alleged intent of the individual. Just possessing a controlled substance can be enough to put an individual behind bars for months or longer, while those convicted of possession with intent to sell can serve much longer sentences. Expensive fines, community service, and counseling can also be required for drug offenders.
Under Prop 47, a referendum passed by state voters in the November 2014 election, penalties were reduced for many nonviolent crimes including drug possession. Drug possession is now treated as a misdemeanor in California; however, there are special laws that apply to cannabis.
In California, the possession of cannabis is treated differently from other drug crimes. In spite of the fact that cannabis is not legal, possession of an ounce or less is treated as a minor infraction (much like a traffic ticket) and defendants can usually expect to pay only about $100 in fines. Also, under the terms of Proposition 215 and Senate Bill 420, California residents with state-issued medical marijuana cards can legally purchase cannabis from designated dispensaries. However, users who don’t have medical marijuana cards and are found with larger amounts of cannabis can be charged with misdemeanors if the quantities involved are significant. Law enforcement officials will often charge individuals who are found in possession of non-criminal amounts of cannabis (less than an ounce) with possession with intent to sell in order to secure harsher sentences. Although being in possession of cannabis is a far less serious crime than those involving narcotics such as heroin and cocaine, it is still very much illegal in California.
DISTRIBUTION OF DRUGS
Criminal charges that involve the selling, transporting, transferring, or importing of controlled substances are much more serious matters than those involving simple possession or possession with intent to sell. In order for a prosecutor to secure a conviction for a drug distribution crime, they will need to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual planned to use the drugs in question for purposes other than personal consumption. The presence of physical evidence such as scales, firearms, and packaging materials can all be used to help secure such a conviction.
Depending on the circumstances of your case, there may be a number of ways to fight drug distribution charges. Some of these include proving that the drugs were for personal use only, or that entrapment was involved. An experienced drug crimes lawyer will help you tailor your defense to the specifics of your arrest. Sometimes, as with possession, violations of your 4th Amendment rights may have been involved, and defenses involving illegal search and seizure can be presented.
Though penalties are difficult to predict, sentences for drug distribution convictions are generally more severe than those resulting from possession-related convictions. California also has enhanced penalties for individuals who sell drugs to minors or sell drugs near schools or other locations where minors regularly congregate. Furthermore, offenders who have been previously convicted on drug distribution charges or other drug crimes can expect harsher sentences for second or subsequent convictions. Prison sentences of ten or twenty years are not uncommon in such situations.
If you, a friend or a loved one has been arrested for any type of drug crime in Los Angeles, we want to hear about it. Call LeahLegal to schedule an appointment with a fearless drug crimes attorney who has been very successful in helping clients with their drug-related criminal charges. We look forward to speaking with you and getting to work on your criminal defense immediately.
To schedule a free initial consultation, call (818) 484-1100 or fill out the form provided here.