A Dedicated Van Nuys Drug Crimes Attorney
Drug crimes are those that involve the possession, distribution, manufacturing, or trafficking of a controlled substance. Individuals who have been arrested for drug crimes in Van Nuys or elsewhere in Los Angeles County are facing very serious charges and need to be equally serious about their criminal defense. If you have been charged with a drug crime, seek legal representation immediately. at the Law Offices of Mark Daniel Melnick, we have been providing clients with aggressive criminal defense since 1982, and we have the expertise and attitude you need to help beat your charges.
Understanding California’s Drug Possession Laws
There are two main types of drug possession crimes in California. One category of drug crimes involves simple possession, while the other involves possession with intent to sell. You should consult with your drug crimes lawyer to learn more about how California state law pertains to your particular case, but understanding a little bit about the law before your consultation may be helpful.
Essentially, if an individual is found in possession of a drug that is listed in the California Health and Safety Code, under Section 1170 of the state penal code, they can be charged with possession of a controlled substance. These substances include cannabis, heroin, cocaine (including crack cocaine), methamphetamine, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, other amphetamines, LSD, PCP, psilocybin, MDMA, and others. If the police suspect that the defendant intended to sell the drugs in question, they can be charged with possession with intent to sell, which is a much more serious crime. Also, 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.
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.
California’s Cannabis Laws
Cannabis possession is treated differently from other drug crimes. Although cannabis is not legal in the State of California, 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. You should also know that law enforcement officials will often charge individuals who are found in possession of non-criminal amounts of cannabis (i.e., less than an ounce) with possession with intent to sell in order to secure harsher sentences. The bottom line is that although being in possession of cannabis is a far less serious crime than those involving narcotics such as heroin and cocaine, it’s a drug that is still very much illegal in California.
Possible Criminal Defenses in Drug Possession Cases
Cases involving possession can be challenging even for the most seasoned drug crimes lawyer to beat; however, there are a number of possible defenses to drug possession charges that may apply in your case. These include:
- You needed the drug for medical reasons
- You have a prescription from a physician
- Your person, home, or vehicle was illegally searched
- The analysis of the drug that the lab performed was incorrect or inconclusive
- The police used entrapment or other improper conduct to secure your arrest
There may be other defenses available to you depending on the circumstances of your case, but you should talk to your criminal defense lawyer about your situation before making any decisions about how to proceed.
Possible Penalties in Drug Possession Cases
It’s very difficult to predict what kind of consequences are in store for individuals convicted of drug possession without knowing the nature and quantity of the drug involved as well as alleged intent of the defendant. 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 may also be required for drug offenders. Schedule a free appointment with a Van Nuys drug crimes attorney about your charges today to get more information about sentencing and penalties in drug possession cases.
California Law and Drug Distribution
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 defendant 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.
Criminal Defenses and Penalties in Drug Distribution Cases
Depending on the circumstances of your case, there may be a number of ways you can fight drug distribution charges. Defendants may allege that the drugs were for personal use only, or that entrapment was involved. Your 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, but defenses involving illegal search and seizure are becoming increasingly challenging as state and federal governments collude to erode these and other constitutional liberties.
It’s difficult to predict in advance what kind of sentence you may receive as a result of conviction for a drug distribution crime, but in general such sentences are more severe than those resulting from a possession-related conviction. The State of 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.
Contact a Van Nuys Drug Crimes Lawyer Today
If you have been arrested for possessing, selling, trafficking, or manufacturing a controlled substance in Los Angeles County, we want to hear about it. Call the Law Offices of Mark Daniel Melnick to schedule an appointment with a fearless drug crimes attorney who has been helping his clients beat their drug-related criminal charges for over forty years. We look forward to speaking with you and getting to work on your criminal defense immediately.