Due to Covid-19, we're providing FREE consultations via Phone or Video with flexible payment options.

Articles Posted in Drug Offenses

California’s Proposition 47, which was considered a controversial measure, appears to be producing the results it was intended for.  However, there are still those skeptics who question whether or not the desired results are being met.  But, according to reports by the Stanford Justice Advocacy Project, any criticism of Prop 47 seems to be based on anecdotes and scare tactics rather than evidence and data.

The report further went on to highlight the positive effects of Prop 47 which includes a 13,000 inmate decrease in jail and prison population in California.  This alone will save the state and counties more than $300 million per year.  Early releases from county jails has been reduced by 35 percent, which means that overcrowding in jails has gone down.  The report went on to say that of the prisoners released under Prop. 47, less than 5 percent have returned to prison or been convicted of a new crime.  This seems to support the claim that there is no connection between any increase in crime over the last year and  inmates being freed due to Prop. 47.

Continue reading →

Possession Of A Controlled Substance Now A Misdemeanor

In California, possession or a controlled substance use to be a “wobbler” meaning that it could be filed as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the type of drug and other circumstances surrounding the arrest and prior criminal history. However, since the passage of Proposition 47, possession of a controlled substance is now a misdemeanor and although not as serious as a felony, being convicted of a misdemeanor drug offense can carry serious, long-lasting consequences.

I have been practicing criminal defense law in Orange County for more than 20 years and have gained extensive knowledge in defending possession cases. Knowing how the district attorney and police agencies build their cases has given me a great advantage in defending my clients and minimizing the consequences if convicted.

One of the most important pieces to the defense of a possession case is the actions of the law enforcement officer who first came in contact with my client. It is my job to review all discovery, looking for mistakes, inaccuracies and even blatant disregard for the law, on the part of the officers involved. It is not uncommon for officers to violate the law when it comes to search and seizure and it is my job to identify when this has happened.

Continue reading →

California Proposition 47, Do You Qualify?

California Proposition 47 is a recently approved law, which allows many individuals who have criminal convictions, to reduce their felony conviction(s) to misdemeanor convictions. Further, it allows those who are currently being prosecuted for felonies, to have their charges reduced to misdemeanors and prosecuted as misdemeanors. It is important to note that not all felony convictions and charges are eligible and not all individuals are eligible. Below is a brief overview of Proposition 47 and who qualifies.

Simply put, the new law reduces the classification of most non-serious and non-violent crimes from wobblers or felonies to misdemeanors. Wobblers are crimes that may be prosecuted and either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending upon the circumstances. Typically, the types of crimes eligible for Prop 47 are property and drug crimes. However, individuals who have prior “disqualifying” convictions will not qualify for Prop 47. Those convictions include any felony offense, which requires Penal Code 290(c) registration or convictions under Penal Code 667(e)(2)(C), (serious, violent crimes, including murder and certain sex and gun crimes, and registered sex offenders). The following are some of the crimes eligible for reduction of penalties under Proposition 47:

Two graduates of an exclusive Pennsylvania prep school were charged with operating an extensive drug ring that dealt cocaine and marijuana to students at high schools and colleges in an affluent part of Philadelphia, authorities said on Tuesday.’

These two young men reportedly led the effort to create a “monopoly” on drug sales in the area and used high school students to deal drugs at their local schools. They are being accused of using the schools to create drug addicts and using their privileged connections to move the drugs through the suburban neighborhoods.

It is being reported that the young men referred to the drug network as the “main line take over project” which employed students from five of the local high schools and three colleges, to distribute cocaine, marijuana, hash oil and ecstasy. It is also being reported that the two young men, the leaders of the operation, expected the “sub-dealers” to meet quotas at the schools they were assigned to sell to.

Border Patrol officers in San Clemente intercepted $6.7 million of cocaine at a freeway checkpoint last week when a man claiming to be a U.S. citizen was stopped. The 54-year-old man was nicely dressed in a suit and tie and driving a relatively new automobile but there was something about him, or the car, that caused the border agents to be suspicious.

If anyone has ever gone through one of these border checkpoints, you know that most of the time you are just waived through. Occasionally you are stopped briefly and asked where you are coming from, where you are going, and if you have any produce in your car. Apparently this is all they need to decide whether or not they want to investigate further. The Border Patrol agents at checkpoints can stop and question anyone even if there is no reason to believe that there are any illegal aliens inside. The United States Supreme Court determined this. It was further ruled that the Border Patrol agents “have wide discretion” to request that the car, and the occupants, pull over to another inspection area for further questioning.

In this particular situation, when the man told the officers that he was a citizen, apparently they were suspicious and ran a record check. This revealed that he was actually a Mexican national and arrested him. This was all they needed to be able to then search his car. The search revealed several large cardboard boxes in both the backseat and trunk of the car. The large cardboard boxes in the back seat may have been what brought attention to the man and caused suspicion. It was discovered that 53 packages of cocaine were inside the boxes, which was estimated to weigh approximately 670 pounds. On the street, that would be worth around $6.7 million.

Possession of a controlled substance is a crime in California. However, possession with intent to sell is a much more serious crime with more severe consequences. It is unfortunate, but most people who are arrested for drug related charges are typically addicts who require some sort of treatment for their addiction. But, what they face if convicted, may include:

1. Probation;
2. 1 year in County Jail; or
3. 2, 3 or 4 years in a California State Prison.

Possession for sale of marijuana is a felony and is punishable by up to 4 years in State Prison.

Crimes involving illegal drugs may include any of the following:

1. Possession for personal use;
2. Possession of drugs with intent to sell or distribute;
3. Trafficking, transporting, buying, or selling;
4. Distribution
5. Cultivating or manufacturing; and
6. Conspiracy to do any of the above.

To prove intent to sale, the prosecution does not need to prove that you sold anything, only that you intended to. This proof can be made based on the following:

1. The amount of drugs found;
2. Other items found such as baggies or scales;
3. Conversations with undercover officers or informants; and
4. High volume of traffic to and from you residence.

When a police officer arrests someone for possession of narcotics, they will almost always take possession of that person’s cell phone. They will review the text messages looking for any sign of sales, whether it is the person looking to buy something or, whether someone is requesting to buy from that person. Often if the text messages reveal that the person is looking to buy, the officers will pressure the person into revealing who their supplier is. This is one way police officers are able to find and arrest people for drug sales.

There are drug related charges that may be prosecuted as misdemeanors. They include: possession of marijuana, being under the influence of a drug and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Fortunately, there are defenses to all of these crimes. Some include:

1) Illegal search and/or seizure;
2) No intent to sell;
3) Lack of possession; and
4) Lack of knowledge.

If convicted of a drug related charge, alternatives to jail and or prison time should be the goal of your attorney. There are many drug rehabilitation programs available for those who can afford it. There are also “sober living” houses, which typically are more affordable and are designed more for those who are on their way to recovery. Sober living houses are a sort of second step in the recovery process and can be a very successful tool for someone who is serious about getting and staying sober.

Other alternatives include Prop 36 and PC 1000. For more information on these programs see the link provided.

Every county and every courthouse has it’s own way of doing things. It is important to have an attorney who is familiar with how things work in the County where your case is pending. An attorney who is experienced in defending drug related charges and who has a good relationship with the Judges, prosecutors, probation officers and the court staff, will be in a much better position to get the best possible outcome for their client.

Continue reading →

Thousands are sent to California prisons every year as a result of law enforcement agencies aggressive crack down on drug trafficking. Undercover operations can last a year or longer before an actual arrest is made. This was true in an operation that lasted a year and ended with the arrest of 16 people in Santa Ana, on suspicion of being involved in illegal distribution of narcotics. The distribution of narcotics operation included distributing crack cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin.

Often times, many of those arrested and/or convicted are innocent and many are drug addicts who are in need of treatment. Addressing a person’s drug addiction is much more effective than sending them to prison.

Transporting, importing and selling or distributing controlled substances is a felony in California. This is also known as drug trafficking.

Transportation of Narcotics: Is when an individual or group knowingly transfers the substances from one place to another. Whether the amount is small or large, transporting drugs is considered a serious offense.

Drug distribution: Is the act of selling narcotics to others.

The consequences of drug transportation and/or distribution vary depending on several factors. Some of the mitigating factors include:

1. The type of drug,
2. The location,
3. The amount, and
4. Whether or not minors are involved.

Consequences of being convicted of drug transportation or drug distribution may include the following:

1. A long prison sentence,
2. Large fines,
3. Parole or probation which may include, drug testing, rehab, counseling, and search and seizure of property,
4. Being required to register as a narcotics offender,
5. Forfeiture of assets, and
6. Deportation (if not a U.S. citizen).

If you are found guilty of importing large quantities of narcotics from another country, the penalties are much more severe.

As a criminal defense attorney who has defended many individuals for drug transportation and sales, I am aware of the many important factors associated with this crime. I pay close attention to all details but two very critical details are: the quantity of drugs and, prior criminal record, specifically prior drug convictions. The quantity will point to the question of whether or not the drugs were for personal use or distribution. Someone with a prior conviction of sales of narcotics could be facing a minimum 3-year enhancement, which is added to the time he would serve if convicted on the new drug charge.

As an experienced criminal defense attorney, I am well aware and equipped to utilize the best defenses and/or sentence alternatives to get the best result possible. For example, drug treatment would be more appropriate than jail time. Especially for non-violent individuals who may suffer with a drug problem. Depending upon the situation, there are alternatives.

In California, if you qualify, you could be eligible for Proposition 36, which would allow substance abuse treatment instead of jail time, or Diversion, is another alternative, which would allow the case to be dismissed after a period of time if all requirements were fulfilled. There is also Drug Court, which is a program that involves supervision and treatment.

There are alternatives and therefore, it is critical that anyone being charged which a seriuos drug charge needs the representation of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Continue reading →

Border Patrol Agents recently arrested 9 men and seized 1,000 pounds of marijuana in Laguna Beach. While patrolling the Orange County coastline at midnight in Laguna Beach, the Border Patrol spotted a boat near Crystal Cove State Park. There were 7 men on the boat and 2 men waiting on the shore in an SUV. When the men began unloading and loading, the Border Patrol arrested the men and seized 26 bundles of marijuana. The street value of the marijuana is reported to be approximately $1.8 million.

In California, it is a felony to sell, transport or distribute marijuana and the penalties can be quite harsh. However, the penalties are significantly less if the person is transporting or giving away less than an ounce of marijuana. It then becomes a misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine. But, even selling a small amount of marijuana is still a felony and can result in serious consequences.

Drug Possession with Intent to Sale

Law enforcement does not have to actually see a sale taking place in order to charge someone with felony possessio with intent to sell. They can rely on the circumstantial evidence at the time of the arrest. Typically, in a situation where no sale was witnessed, the amount of marijuana and the way it is packaged is used as evidence of sales. Also, the presence of scales for weighing, baggies for packaging and/or large amounts of cash are considered evidence of sales. The police also look for text messages and pay/own sheets.

Transportation and/or Distribution of Drugs

When an individual or group of people knowingly transfers an illegal drug from one place to another, they have committed the crime of transportation of narcotics. It doesn’t matter whether they are transporting a small amount or a large amount, it is a serious offense. The act of selling drugs to others is distribution.

Consequences of a Conviction for Drug Trafficking and/or Distribution

There are state and federal laws that govern sentencing of drug traffickers. The penalties vary depending upon the circumstances. Factors that are taken into consideration are: 1) What type schedule drug was it; 2) The amount of the drug; 3) Were minors involved; 4) Was the defendant part of a group or an individual; and 5) The location where the offense took place.

If convicted of drug trafficking, you could be facing many years in Federal Prison. However, there are defenses to this charge, which an experienced criminal defense attorney will be familiar with. Because the sentencing depends upon so many different variables, it is important that the details surrounding the arrest, seizure and interrogation be carefully looked at by your attorney. Paying close attention to the laws as they apply to law enforcement when it comes to search and seizure, as well as any violation of your amendment rights.

The Fourth Amendment guards against illegal search and seizure by law enforcement. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for police personnel to ignore the law regarding search and seizure, which often times goes unnoticed. A good criminal defense attorney should scrutinize all aspects of the search, seizure and arrest, looking for mistakes or misconduct by law enforcement personnel.

If you or a loved one has been arrested for drug transportation/trafficking or distribution, contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer in the County in which the arrest took place. Protecting the rights and mitigating the potential prison exposure for you or your family member should be your attorney’s first priority.

Continue reading →

Border Patrol Agents recently arrested 9 men and seized 1,000 pounds of marijuana in Laguna Beach. While patrolling the Orange County coastline at midnight in Laguna Beach, the Border Patrol spotted a boat near Crystal Cove State Park. There were 7 men on the boat and 2 men waiting on the shore in an SUV. When the men began unloading and loading, the Border Patrol arrested the men and seized 26 bundles of marijuana. The street value of the marijuana is reported to be approximately $1.8 million.

In California, it is a felony to sell, transport or distribute marijuana and the penalties can be quite harsh. However, the penalties are significantly less if the person is transporting or giving away less than an ounce of marijuana. It then becomes a misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine. But, even selling a small amount of marijuana is still a felony and can result in serious consequences.

Drug Possession with Intent to Sale

Law enforcement does not have to actually see a sale taking place in order to charge someone with felony possessio with intent to sell. They can rely on the circumstantial evidence at the time of the arrest. Typically, in a situation where no sale was witnessed, the amount of marijuana and the way it is packaged is used as evidence of sales. Also, the presence of scales for weighing, baggies for packaging and/or large amounts of cash are considered evidence of sales. The police also look for text messages and pay/own sheets.

Transportation and/or Distribution of Drugs

When an individual or group of people knowingly transfers an illegal drug from one place to another, they have committed the crime of transportation of narcotics. It doesn’t matter whether they are transporting a small amount or a large amount, it is a serious offense. The act of selling drugs to others is distribution.

Consequences of a Conviction for Drug Trafficking and/or Distribution

There are state and federal laws that govern sentencing of drug traffickers. The penalties vary depending upon the circumstances. Factors that are taken into consideration are: 1) What type schedule drug was it; 2) The amount of the drug; 3) Were minors involved; 4) Was the defendant part of a group or an individual; and 5) The location where the offense took place.

If convicted of drug trafficking, you could be facing many years in Federal Prison. However, there are defenses to this charge, which an experienced criminal defense attorney will be familiar with. Because the sentencing depends upon so many different variables, it is important that the details surrounding the arrest, seizure and interrogation be carefully looked at by your attorney. Paying close attention to the laws as they apply to law enforcement when it comes to search and seizure, as well as any violation of your amendment rights.

The Fourth Amendment guards against illegal search and seizure by law enforcement. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for police personnel to ignore the law regarding search and seizure, which often times goes unnoticed. A good criminal defense attorney should scrutinize all aspects of the search, seizure and arrest, looking for mistakes or misconduct by law enforcement personnel.

If you or a loved one has been arrested for drug transportation/trafficking or distribution, contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer in the County in which the arrest took place. Protecting the rights and mitigating the potential prison exposure for you or your family member should be your attorney’s first priority.

Continue reading →

In California it is possible to avoid going to jail for a simple drug possession case. Drug Diversion programs are an alternative to serving time for those who qualify. California Penal Code 1000 and Proposition 36 are two types of diversion programs which some defendants are eligible for.

California Penal Code 1000 (“PC 1000”), allows for defendants accused of possession of a controlled substance, if eligible, to enter a drug program rather than go to jail. This is also known as Deferred entry of Judgment (“DEJ”). The purpose behind these types of programs is to offer help to people who have a drug problem. The majority of people who are arrested for possession and drug sales are suffering from an addiction. While it is necessary to be held accountable for criminal actions, sending a drug addict to jail or prison typically will not deter the behavior in the future. However, committing to a drug program may make the difference between a one-time arrest for drugs and a lifetime of drug use.

These programs are time-consuming and strict for a reason. The defendant is expected to take the program seriously and commit completely with the goal of staying clean and sober. The ability of the defendant to stay in the program and complete it successfully will most definitely be an indication of their success in the future with sobriety. These types of programs should be looked at as an opportunity that not everyone has and looked at as a turning point in their future.

The following is a list of eligibility requirements for “PC 1000”: (1) The defendant should not have any prior offenses on his record involving controlled substances; (2) Defendant’s record should not reflect any revocation of probation or parole; (3) The offense defendant is currently being charged with must not involve violence; (4) The defendant should not have any felony convictions within five years of the current offense. If the defendant meets these requirements, the prosecution will make a determination of whether or not the program will be appropriate.

If the defendant decides to enter the program, he will plead guilty to the charge however, the sentencing will be delayed pending the successful completion of the program. If the defendant completes the program successfully, and stays out of trouble, the charges will be dismissed.

Proposition 36 is similar to PC 1000, however there are some differences. The eligibility requirements are much the same but unlike PC 1000, Prop. 36 may be available for someone with a prior violent felony conviction if: the defendant has been out of prison for at least five years with no felony or misdemeanor convictions involving violence for five years. Also unlike PC 1000, the defendant must plead guilty to the charge(s) and then be sentenced. Rather than going to jail, the judge can place the defendant on formal probation and require that a drug treatment program, lasting up to one year, be completed.

In addition to the drug treatment program, the judge may also require additional conditions of probation. Some of the additional conditions may include random drug tests, regular check-ins with a probation officer, court appearances requirements to pay treatment costs and other restrictions on the defendant’s lifestyle. Once the program is completed successfully, the conviction will be set aside and the charge(s) dismissed.

With both Prop 36 and PC 1000, if the defendant does not successfully complete the program, the sentence that would have been given or has been given, shall be enforced. Also, with both programs, a charge of possession for sales disqualifies a defendant from either program. For this reason, anyone being charged with a drug related offense should seek the advice and assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney who will explore the possibilities of having a possession for sale reduced to a simple possession in order to allow the defendant to enter one of the drug diversion programs discussed above.

Continue reading →