Drug crimes in California are generally divided into two different categories. These two categories include possession of an illegal substance and distribution of an illegal substance.
If you have been charged with any type of drug-related crime, whether it be possession or distribution or anything else, it is important to speak with an attorney as soon as you can. It is a good idea to seek assistance from an attorney that specializes in the area of criminal defense, particularly, defense against drug-related charges. Call California drug defense attorney Johann Hall today to get started with a consultation.
Possession versus Possession for Sale
When someone is charged with a drug offense for possession, the state prosecutor has the option to charge the individual with possession or possession for sale. Typically, a charge for possession for sale will occur when there is a significant amount of the illegal substance in that person’s possession, which is enough that it could reasonably be believed that they meant to sell some of the substance.
Proposition 47 – Passed in 2014
In 2014, California voters passed Proposition 47. Proposition 47 changed the sentencing structure for drug possession. Under the new law, drug possession offenses became punishable as only a misdemeanor charge. In addition, this new law gave individuals currently in state prison serving time for drug possession charges the ability to file a petition with the court to request resentencing.
Drug Distribution Laws in California
In California, it is illegal to sell, transfer, transport and import controlled substances. One exception to this is that you may transport or transfer up to 28 grams of marijuana, provided the parties involved are over the age of 21. It is important to note that these restrictions on selling and transferring drugs also apply to prescription drugs, assuming the defendant lacked a license to dispense the drugs or in some way improperly sold the drugs. Typically, more serious charges are filed against defendants who sell or transport drugs to or around minors, such as in a school zone area.
California State Penalties for Drug Distribution
The penalties for distribution of drugs in California vary depending on the type of drug, amount of drug, and the circumstances of the crime. These crimes are governed by the Uniform Controlled Substances Act. Under this Act, transporting, selling, or importing controlled substances can result in a felony charge and a sentence of three to five years in jail. Any sentence may also be extended if there were prior convictions on the defendant’s record.
Additionally, transporting illegal substances from one county to another non-contiguous county in the state of California may lead to a sentence increase from three to nine years of imprisonment. For crimes that involve employing or hiring minors to distribute or sell controlled substances, or selling the controlled substances to minors, a defendant may be sentenced to three to nine years in state prison.
Under California law, it is also illegal to import, transfer, sell or transport the chemicals that are used as ingredients to make PCP (phencyclidine) and methamphetamine, or the drugs themselves. If convicted, a defendant may face a sentence of imprisonment that lasts anywhere from sixteen months to six years.
Another California law allows for sentence enhancement in cases where the distribution of drugs or related activities occur near playgrounds, school-related programs, or anywhere within 1,000 feet of a school. Further, if the defendant is four or more years older than the minor that was involved, that defendant may face a separate count for an additional one to three years in state prison.
Defenses to Drug Crimes in California
There are some defenses to drug crimes in California. If you have been charged with a drug crime, one or more of these defenses may be applicable to your case. If you have been charged with distribution of a controlled substance, one defense your lawyer may argue is that you were only in possession of the substance for personal use. This will likely depend on the amount of the substance. Other defenses to drug charges in California include entrapment, improper police interference, and unlawful search and seizure. The availability of these defenses depends on the facts surrounding your arrest. Another defense may be a legal prescription (if you were prescribed the drug and legally in possession of it).
If you have been charged with a drug-related crime, it is imperative to seek out an experienced criminal defense attorney to handle your case. Call California attorney Johann Hall today to get started on defending your case.