Los Angeles Drug Crime Lawyer
Criminal Defense Lawyers Aggressively Defending People Facing Drug Crime Charges
Have you been accused of a drug crime in Los Angeles County? You may have been charged with possession of an illegal drug, such as cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, marijuana, or ecstasy. You might find yourself under criminal investigation for drug sales, drug trafficking, or drug transportation. You may be a suspect in obtaining unauthorized prescriptions drugs. Whatever the circumstances of your drug crime case, you will need an experienced Los Angeles drug crime lawyer to take charge of your case as soon as possible.
California sets penalties for felony and misdemeanor drug possession that vary depending on the type of drug, amount of the drug, and the purpose for which the defendant had possession of the drug. Possession of a controlled substance might lead to a sentence of imprisonment in county jail for up to one year, while possession for sale of a controlled substance might result in a sentence of imprisonment for a range of two to five years. If the Los Angeles County prosecutor has charged the defendant with possession and transport of a controlled substance from one county to another, the potential punishment can range from a few years up to nine years of imprisonment.
This is why if you or your loved one was charged with a drug-related case, you need to contact an experienced Los Angeles drug crime attorney. The lawyers at Eisner Gorin LLP have the prerequisite knowledge to help you or your loved ones through this rough time and achieve the best result possible, which will be either ultimate dismissal of all charges or a reduction in sentence. See our blog: Alternative Sentencing in California.
California Proposition 64 - Marijuana Legalization
California Proposition 64, also known as the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act, legalizes, under certain circumstances, the possession and recreational use of marijuana by adults 21 years of age or older. Adults 21 YEARS AND OVER may possess up to 1 ounce of cannabis and 4 grams of concentrate (such as hash). They may also transport and/or give away (i.e. not sell for profit) these same amounts. In addition, they may homegrow up to 6 marijuana plants, and process and keep the entire harvest from said plants. Absent a medical marijuana recommendation, these activities were all previously illegal and could result in criminal penalties. See our blog: California Marijuana Law Update 2017.
For those ages 18-20, the penalties for possession up to 1 ounce (or 4 grams of concentrate) or growing up to 6 plants have been reduced from possible jail time to an infraction punishable by a $100 fine.
Minors are still prohibited from possessing, using, or transporting any amount of marijuana. However, under Proposition 64, the penalties for such activities have been reduced to counseling, community service, and drug education programs rather than fines and incarceration.
For everyone ages 18 and up, the penalties for possession of more than 1 ounce of marijuana (or more than 4 grams of concentrate), growing more than 6 plants, possession with intent to sell, transportation of more than 1 ounce of marijuana (or more than 4 grams of concentrate), or sales without a license have been reduced to six months in county jail, a $500 fine, or both. This is a significant reduction in potential criminal liability. To take one example, previous law provided for a potential 4-year sentence in state prison for transportation of more than 1 ounce of marijuana.
Aggravated cases or multiple violations related to marijuana may still result in felony charges and time in state prison. Sales to minors under age 18 still carries a three to seven year sentence in state prison. Additionally, readers should be aware that while recreational use by adults is legal, it may only take place in authorized areas. Smoking in an unlicensed public site or where tobacco smoking would otherwise be banned can be punished by a fine. It should also be noted that marijuana remains a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance under Federal law. For more information about California Proposition 64, contact a marijuana legalization defense attorney at our law firm to review the details of your case. If eligible, our lawyers can assist you filing a petition to have your felony marijuana conviction or jail sentenced reduced.
Common Drug Crime Cases in Los Angeles
Possession of Marijuana - California Health and Safety Code 11357
The most common drug charge that our Los Angeles drug crime attorneys encounter is the possession of marijuana in violation of California Health and Safety Code 11357. Throughout recent years, our law firm has seen marijuana-related laws change. Most recently, Proposition 64 radically reshaped the illegality of marijuana-related conduct as well as the penalties associated with unlawful marijuana-related activity. See our Proposition 64 summary above. Having a prescription for medical marijuana is a defense to marijuana possession charge. The unlawful possession of marijuana is punished based on the age of the defendant, the amount of the controlled drug substance involved, and the setting in which the alleged possession occurred:
- For those under 18 years old, possession of up to 28.5 grams of marijuana, or 4 grams of marijuana concentrate, is an infraction punishable by drug education, counselling, and community service. A second offense will increase the amount of community service ordered.
- For those 18, 19, or 20 years old, possession of not more than 28.5 grams of marijuana, or 4 grams of concentrated cannabis, is an infraction and is punishable by a fine of not more than $100.
- For those 21 years or older, possession of more than 28.5 grams of marijuana, or 4 grams of concentrated cannabis, is legal.
- For those under 18 years old, possession of more than to 28.5 grams of marijuana, or 4 grams of marijuana concentrate, is an infraction punishable by drug education, counselling, and community service. A second offense will increase the amount of community service ordered.
- For those over 18 years old, possession of more than to 28.5 grams of marijuana, or 4 grams of marijuana concentrate, is a misdemeanor punishable by 6 months’ incarceration, a $500 fine, or both.
- A person over the age of 18 who possesses 28.5 grams of marijuana or less, or 4 grams of marijuana concentrate or less, on the grounds of an elementary, middle, or high school is guilty of a misdemeanor and is subject to a $250 fine for a first offense, and 10 days’ incarceration and a $500 fine for a second offense.
- A person under the age of 18 who possesses 28.5 grams of marijuana or less, or 4 grams of marijuana concentrate or less, on the grounds of an elementary, middle, or high school is guilty of an infraction punishable by drug education, counselling, and community service. A second offense will increase the amount of community service ordered.
Each marijuana possession case is fact-specific and crafting the best possible defense will require a careful examination of the particular circumstances of your case. Call our experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys today for a free consultation regarding you possession of marijuana case.
Drug Possession - California Health and Safety Code 11350 and 11377
The prosecution needs to be able to prove each and every one of the elements of an offense beyond a reasonable doubt in order for you to be convicted at trial. If the prosecution cannot prove even just one element beyond a reasonable doubt, the jury is required by law to find a not guilty verdict. It is for this reason that an understanding of all of the elements of an offense is critical to preparing a defense for your case by a Los Angeles drug crime lawyer.
For the crime of drug possession, also known as possession of a controlled substance, the elements are:
(1) You had control over the drug; AND
(2) You knew about the presence of the drug; AND
(3) You knew of the illegal nature of the drug; AND
(4) There was enough of the drug such that it could be used.
A Los Angeles drug possession case can involve possession of a drug that is illegal under any circumstances, such as methamphetamine, heroin, ecstasy, cocaine, or LSD. A drug possession case can also involve possession of a drug that can be prescribed, but has not been prescribed to you, such as Vicodin, Codeine, Xanax or Adderall. Possession of most drugs is a misdemeanor offense that has a maximum penalty of a year in jail. Proposition 47, which passed in 2014, reclassified Health & Safety Code Section 11350 from a felony to a misdemeanor, which means that if you were convicted of a felony before November of 2014, then you might be currently eligible to have your sentence reduced to a misdemeanor.
The main way to attack a charge of drug possession case by Los Angeles drug crime lawyers is to challenge the elements of the offense, primarily by demonstrating that the drug did not belong to you. Further, a drug attorney can argue that the illegal drugs were seized in violation of your Fourth Amendment rights and, therefore, such evidence must be suppressed. Many people, however, will qualify for a drug diversion program under Proposition 36. This diversion is offered to individuals convicted of non-violent drug possession offenses, depending on that person’s individual criminal history. If you are offered and choose to accept diversion, the court will defer entry of judgment on your case. If you then successfully complete the drug diversion program, the court will dismiss your case. Speak to your Los Angeles drug crime attorney to determine if you are eligible for this drug diversion. See related blog: California Proposition 47.
Drug Possession for Sale - California Health and Safety Code 11351, 11378
For the crime of drug possession with intent to sell in Los Angeles, the elements are:
(1) You had control over the illegal drug; AND
(2) You knew about the presence of the illegal drug; AND
(3) You knew of the illegal nature of the drug; AND
(4) You had the specific intent to sell the illegal drug; AND
(5) There was enough of the drug such that it could be used.
There are two types of possession: constructive and actual. For actual possession, you must have physical control over the illegal drug. For constructive possession, you can have control over the illegal even if it’s through another person. Talk to your Los Angeles drug crime lawyer for more information about your specific drug case.
A case for possession of sale of illegal drugs can involve a person who is pulled over and has a bag of cocaine in their car, along with scales and plastic baggies. Another case can involve someone who is running a meth lab. Officers often look for circumstantial evidence that you intended to sell the drugs in your possession, such as baggies, large amounts of cash, scales, pay-owes, and any text messages confirming sales.
Possession of an illegal drug for sale is always a felony offense, although the punishment depends on the drug involved. Typically, possession for sale of drugs for which a prescription can be obtained have a maximum punishment of three years incarceration. Possession for sale of drugs which cannot be obtained even with a prescription (LSD, cocaine, ecstasy) has a maximum punishment of four years incarceration. Possession for sale of phencyclidine has a maximum punishment of five years incarceration. This crime is more serious than simple possession, and does not qualify for Proposition 36 or PC 1000 drug diversion.
The main way to attack a case of possession of a drug for sale by Los Angeles drug crime attorneys is to challenge the elements of the drug offense, primarily by demonstrating that you did not intend to sell the drug. A drug lawyer can argue that the amount of drugs in your possession was only for personal use. Further, a drug defense attorney can argue that the illegal drugs were seized in violation of your Fourth Amendment rights and, therefore, such evidence must be suppressed.
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia - California Health and Safety Code 11364
It is a misdemeanor to essentially possess any paraphernalia used for unlawfully injecting or smoking a controlled substance, which might include such items as pipes, bongs, cocaine spoons, and hypodermic needles. A conviction carries up to six months in the county jail, but it might qualify for a reduction in sentence under Prop 36 or Penal Code 1000. For the crime of possession of drug paraphernalia in Los Angeles, the elements are:
(1) You had possession of the paraphernalia/device; AND
(2) You were aware of the paraphernalia/device; AND
(3) You knew the paraphernalia/device was for using illegal drugs.
The main way to attack a case of possession of drug paraphernalia by an experienced Los Angeles drug crime attorney is to challenge the elements of the drug offense. A drug defense lawyer can argue that the object that appeared to be drug paraphernalia was in fact not and had a different usage. A drug attorney can argue that you believed the drug paraphernalia was something else. A lawyer can argue that the drug paraphernalia did not belong to you. Further, a drug crime lawyer can argue that the drug paraphernalia was seized in violation of your Fourth Amendment rights and, therefore, such evidence must be suppressed.
Cultivation of Marijuana - California Health and Safety Code 11358
For the drug crime of cultivation of marijuana in Los Angeles, the elements are:
(1) You planted or cultivated a marijuana plant; AND
(2) You knew it was a marijuana plant; AND
(3) The cultivation was not immunized by law.
A case for cultivation of marijuana can range from someone growing marijuana in their backyard to someone operating a warehouse with a large number of marijuana plants. If you have a physician’s recommendation to use marijuana, and you were cultivating a reasonable amount for personal use, then you would have a defense to the charge. Consult with a Los Angeles drug lawyer to review the details of your drug cultivation case.
Cultivation of marijuana is a felony offense. If convicted, you can be sentenced up to three years in State prison. The primary challenge to a cultivation of marijuana charge by a Los Angeles drug crime lawyer is that the cultivation was for legal medical purposes. A drug defense attorney may argue that Fourth Amendment violations were committed during the search and seizure, in which case the evidence could be suppressed.
Sale or Transport of Marijuana - California Health and Safety Code 11360
For the drug crime of sale or transport of marijuana in Los Angeles County, the elements are:
(1) You sold, transported, furnished, administered, gave away, or import, or offered to sell, transport, furnish, administer, give away, or import marijuana; AND
(2) You knew about the illegal nature of the marijuana.
A case for sale of marijuana can involve one person selling any usable amount of marijuana to another person for any amount of cash. Call a Los Angeles drug crime attorney to review the details of your drug offense.
Related offenses are offenses that can sometimes be charged together or sometimes charged instead of one another. For the crime of sale or transport of marijuana, related offenses are:
California Health and Safety Code 11357: Possession of Marijuana
California Health and Safety Code 11357.5: Selling synthetic cannabis
California Health and Safety Code 11358: Cultivation of Marijuana
California Health and Safety Code 11359: Possession of Marijuana for Sale
California Health and Safety Code 11361: Sale of Marijuana to a Minor
California Health and Safety Code 11361(a): Employment of Minor to Peddle Marijuana
A conviction of this offense can result in a sentence of up to four years in State prison along with substantial fines. If, however, the offense involved less than 28.5 grams of marijuana and was only transporting or giving away, then the offense is a misdemeanor with a punishment of a maximum fine of $100.
If the sale was to undercover officers, entrapment can be argued by our skilled Los Angeles drug crime lawyers, meaning that you would not have otherwise committed the offense had you not been pressured into it by the undercover officer. If you were transporting a reasonable amount for personal use and have a physician’s recommendation, then you are immunized from the law.
Other Drug Crimes under California Health & Safety Code
Health & Safety Code Section 11352 - Sale or Transportation of Illegal Substance - makes it a felony to sell, furnish, administer, give away, transport or import into California an illegal narcotic. This drug offense could also include drug trafficking, drug transportation, and prescription drug crimes.
Health & Safety Code Section 11377 - Possession of Methamphetamine - makes it a crime to possess methamphetamine, which qualifies as a misdemeanor under Prop 47.
Health & Safety Code Section 11379.6 - Manufacturing Drugs & Narcotics - makes it a felony to manufacture, produce, compound or process a controlled substance. To be liable for this offense, the person must actually have begun the process of making the illegal drug, rather than merely gathering supplies and preparing to do so. However, a conviction for this offense carries the harshest sentencing of any California drug law, up to 7 years in state prison. The sentence may also increase substantially if there are any aggravating factors, like someone is killed in the process of making it.
Health & Safety Code Section 11550 - Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance - which is one of the most common cited sections related to drug crimes, making it a misdemeanor crime to "use" or being under the influence of” a controlled substance, which can include but is not limited to illicit narcotics such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, ecstasy and GHB or even prescription drugs such as Xanax or valium, if the person does not have a valid prescription. Most people charged with the offense do qualify for Proposition 36 or drug diversion under PC 1000.
Get Help by Calling a Los Angeles Drug Attorney
At Eisner Gorin LLP, a Los Angeles drug crime lawyer at our law firm engage in tenacious representation of our clients, where we examine each case based on its facts and flush out specific defenses and successful defense strategies, which help us to dismiss charges altogether or plead down to a lesser charge based on any available legal defenses. Call our office, 24/7, at (877) 781-1570 for a free immediate response.
Related Pages: Proposition 36 | Deferred Entry of Judgment