Controlled Substance Offenses
The most commonly prosecuted substances are:
- Marijuana Possessed for Sale (including concentrated cannabis: kief, hash, and hash oil)
- Powder Cocaine
- Crack Cocaine
- MDMA (Ecstasy)
- Prescription Drugs: Vicodin (Hydrocodone), OxyContin (Oxycodone), and Valium (Diazepam)
The use and possession of controlled substances is illegal in the State of California. Penalties for drug offenses range anywhere from a $100 fine to many years in prison – do not take drug charges lightly. Enhancements for similar prior convictions, possession of a firearm, and possessing a large quantity of drugs may substantially increase potential penalties. If you are under 21, consequences may include suspension of your driver’s license.
Personal Possession vs. Possession for Sales
If the police and prosecutor have evidence that a substance was possessed for the purpose of selling it to another person, they may file more serious charges of possession for sales. Evidence supporting a charge of possession for sales may include:
- Large quantity of drug seized
- Packaging of drugs into smaller quantities
- Possession of moderate to large amount of cash
- Memorialized “pay/owe sheets” or other record of performed transactions
- Possession of a weapon
- Text messages that contain requests or agreements to sell drugs
Drug sales cases often use so-called “Confidential Informants” (CI’s), who supply police with personal accounts of drugs they have purchased from particular persons. They work with the police to prosecute suspected drug dealers. CI’s commonly have questionable backgrounds and personal motivations for assisting law enforcement.
Issues of Addiction and Treatment
American Society has long struggled to achieve a balance between punishment and the treatment of chemical dependence. Depending on the facts and circumstances of the case, a judge may order participation and treatment in a rehabilitation program. In other cases, a defendant may be entitled to such treatment in the form of Deferred Entry of Judgment (DEJ) or Proposition 36 treatment, both of which result in the dismissal of criminal charges upon successful completion of treatment.
The Compassionate Use Act (CUA) of 1996 forever changed the landscape of California Marijuana prosecutions, and made “Medical Marijuana” a common topic of conversation. The laws and exclusions of the CUA are constantly under attack by the Federal Government and local municipalities, who often view Medical Marijuana as a “sham” and a blight on the community. If you are a patient with a marijuana recommendation from a doctor, you may still face prosecution if you give or sell marijuana to otherwise unprotected people. Some law enforcement and prosecutors may focus their investigation on ways to exclude you from CUA protection, even though you intended to stay within the law. Keep in mind, Marijuana possession is still illegal under Federal Law.
The Bottom Line
Drug cases are a complicated blend of legal, moral, and public health issues that cut across all facets of society. Evidence might be misconstrued, twisted, and used against you, thereby jeopardizing your freedom. Do not underestimate the seriousness of even the most innocuous drug case. Contact Criminal Defense Attorney Scott Newbould to discuss your legal options and defenses.