Narcotics and Marijuana
In Los Angeles, the sale, possession, transportation, and distribution of narcotics and marijuana are fiercely prosecuted. Although the goal is noble – to get drugs off the streets – the outcome can be catastrophic when you’ve been accused of a drug crime you did not commit.
Narcotic CrimesNarcotics include any drugs that are derived from opium as well as synthetic drugs that mimic their effects. Cocaine is also classified as a narcotic by the U.S. Controlled Substances Act, despite not being an opiate.
Some common narcotics include: Opium, Heroin, Thebaine, Morphine, Codeine Hydrocodone, Fentanyl, Methadone, Cocaine / crack cocaine (by federal classification).
Until recently, possession of any of these narcotics in any amount was a felony; however, following the passage of Proposition 47 in November 2014, possession was downgraded to a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of one year in the county jail and a possible fine. If you have a criminal record that includes a serious crime, such as a sex offense or manslaughter, however, the offense will once again be treated as a felony.
Possession with intent to sell, however, remains a felony and one of the biggest dangers facing those who are accused of drug possession is that the charges will be upgraded to "intent to sell." The amount of drug in your possession plays a large factor in this, as it is often assumed that if you're found with significantly more drugs than you could use at once that you were intending to distribute it to another. If convicted of this crime, you could be facing 2 to 4 years in jail and up to $20,000 in fines (although minor first-time drug offenses are often "wobblers" and may also be treated as misdemeanors). The same penalty applies to an actual sale.
Many aggravating factors can add a significant amount of jail time to this base penalty, however, including the type of drug sold (heroin, cocaine, and cocaine base add an additional year), where you sold it (within 1,000 feet of a drug treatment center or homeless shelter adds a year), how many previous drug convictions you have (each prior sale or intent to sell adds 3 years), and how much of it was found in your possession (can add 3 to 25 years, depending on weight).
Marijuana CrimesMarijuana crimes can be confusing, both because the laws have changed in recent years, and because so many factors go into determining the penalty, including the amount of drug in your possession, where you were caught, the type of product you were caught with, and your previous criminal record.
For example, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana (other than concentrated cannabis) was reduced from a misdemeanor, incurring jail time and up to $500 in fines, to an infraction in 2011, bearing only a $100 fine. This assumes, however, that you are not on school property during regular school hours, where the fine increases to $500 or $250 for a first offense if you are under 18.
Possession of more than one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail and $500 in fines. Possession of any amount of concentrated cannabis is punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a $500 fine unless you have a serious crime on your record or are a registered sex offender. In these latter cases, the charge is upgraded to a felony, with a prison sentence attached.
Help For Los Angeles Drug CrimesAs you can see, drug crimes are very complex. If you've been accused of such a crime, proving or refuting the smallest detail can be the difference between a best-case scenario and a lot of unnecessary jail time. Contact an attorney that has the experience you need to navigate the judicial system and turn the trial to your favor.
Resources:Possession of drug paraphernalia - Health and Safety Code Section 11364.
Possession of a narcotic - Health and Safety Code Section 11350(a).
Possession for Sale of a Controlled Substance - Health and Safety Code Section 11352(a).
Transportation of a Controlled Substance - Health and Safety Code Section 11352(b).
Transportation for Sale of a Controlled Substance - Health and Safety Code Section 11352(b).
Sale or Furnish a Controlled Substance to a Minor - Health and Safety Code Section 11353.
Selling a Substance in Lieu of a Controlled Substance - Health and Safety Code Section 11357(a).