California Law Regarding Possession and/or Sales of Bath Salts
"Bath Salts" are an inexpensive, synthetic, super-charged form of speed. The drug consists of a potpourri of constantly changing chemicals, three of the main ingredients, mephedrone, MDPV and methylone, were banned last year by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) made illegal the possession and sale of these three chemicals commonly used to make the synthetic drug "bath salts". The ban was an emergency control, which will remain in effect for at least one year, while the DEA and the United States Department of Health and Human Services decide whether or not three chemicals should be permanently controlled.
However, in California, a recent law was just enacted which makes it illegal to sell, distribute, give away any "synthetic stimulant derivative", a misdemeanor offense. At this point, simple possession of "bath salts" is not a crime. There are counties in California however that are in the process of making it illegal to both possess and sale the substances.
In May of this year, Orange County Sheriff's Department, South Narcotics and Special Investigations Bureau conducted an undercover operation, which resulted in issuance of search warrants and the ultimate arrest of a 38-year-old San Clemente man. He was arrested and booked for violation of Health and Safety Code 11375.5, Unlawful Sale of Synthetic Stimulants and Unlawful Sales of Synthetic Cannabinoid Substances. Although it is illegal to sale and distribute "bath salts", many head shops and smoke shops still package and sell it.
Simple possession of "bath salts" is, at this time, not a crime, however, the results of using this new "designer drug", can and does result in being arrested and charged with misdemeanors and felonies. Because it is thought to be legal by teens and young adults, and is fairly easy to get, these young people are trying out this new drug, often times with devastating results. There have been reports of violence associated with the use of bath salts, as well as other bizarre behavior. So, while being in possession of bath salts might not result in an arrest, often times the behavior while on the drug will.
While the new law will impose fines and possible jail time for people arrested and charged with selling designer drugs, this pales in comparison to the consequences one might suffer if arrested for a crime while on the drug. As has been recently reported in the news, there have been several instances of people committing violent crimes while under the influence of "bath salts". In these situations, it appears that these people were not career criminals with a propensity for violent crimes but are now faced with serious felony charges that will affect the rest of their lives.
Anyone who has been arrested for a crime while under the influence of "bath salts" should seek the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney who is familiar with drug related offenses and specifically the defenses to crimes committed while under the influence. There are defenses that a skilled attorney will be familiar with. One defense in particular that may apply to a situation where someone under the influence of "bath salts" and commits a crime is the voluntary intoxication defense.
Voluntary intoxication is typically difficult to use as a valid criminal defense. But it may bear on the issue of whether you possessed the mental state to commit certain “specific intent” crimes. “Specific intent” means that you specifically intended the consequences of your act.
Anyone being accused of a crime in Orange County, California, should seek the advise of an attorney who is familiar with all the Courts in Orange County. An attorney who has a good working relationship with the individual Judges, District Attorneys, Court Clerks and Probation Department, as well as the Court staff, will be better able to get your charges reduced and/or dismissed. An attorney familiar with the Courts in which a case is pending will result in the best possible outcome available.