Los Angeles Drug Crimes – Frequently Asked Questions
Drug crimes are some of the most frequently prosecuted criminal offenses in the Los Angeles area. However, with many recent changes in drug laws and how these types of cases are prosecuted, many people often have questions about drug crimes. The following are some of the more frequently asked questions surrounding drug crimes in the Los Angeles area.Q: “Is It Legal to Possess Drugs in California?”
While voters and legislators have taken steps to reduce the penalties associated with the use and simple possession of drugs and narcotics in California, it is still illegal to own, use or posses drugs such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, ecstasy, mushrooms and LSD. While simple possession used to be a felony, Proposition 47, which was passed in 2014, made most simple possession charges misdemeanors under the law. Even though these crimes are misdemeanors, the can still result in arrests and criminal prosecutions, and can be devastating to careers, professional licenses and reputations.
In addition, in some cases police or prosecutors may try to claim that a person is not possessing drugs for personal use, but instead is possessing with the intent to sell narcotics, which is always a felony-level offense punishable by prison. Police and prosecutors may look at factors such as the amount of drugs possessed or the presence of other items showing the indicia of sales, such as scales, individualized packaging, buy/sell sheets and large amounts of cash. In these cases, law enforcement may push for felony-level prosecution.Q: “Is It Legal to Possess Marijuana?”
In 2016, California voters passed Proposition 64 which legalized the use, sale and cultivation of marijuana for adults over the age of 21. Since the passage of Proposition 64, it is now legal to use and possess marijuana, with several major exceptions. For example, it is a felony to sell or transport over 28.5 grams of marijuana under Health and Safety Code § 11360(a)(3)(d). In many cases, people are arrested after legally purchasing cannabis in California and then trying to transport it via mail or at the airport. In these cases, the prosecution may file felony charges. In addition, the unauthorized sale of marijuana is still a misdemeanor under Health and Safety Code § 11360(a)(2).
It is very important to remember that while marijuana use may be legal, it is still illegal to drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana or any other intoxicating drug under California Vehicle Code § 23152(f). This includes legal drugs such as Xanax and Vicodin for which the driver may have a valid prescription. Those suspected of driving while under the influence of drugs would be required to submit to a blood test, as there is no breath test that can accurately measure the presence of drugs in a person’s system. The Department of Motor Vehicles will not issue an administrative suspension for a person arrested for driving under the influence of drugs. However, if the driver is ever convicted of driving under the influence in court, then he or she would face a driver’s license suspension.Q: “Are Drug Crimes State or Federal Offense?”
Drug crimes can be prosecuted in both State and Federal courts. Defendants accused of simple possession will almost always be referred to State court and may be eligible for a drug diversion program that can result in charges being ultimately being dismissed. However, in major drug sales cases, Federal authorities will often assert jurisdiction due to the introduction of illegal narcotics into interstate commerce. Those convicted of drug crimes in Federal Court may face lengthy prison sentences in Federal facilities located throughout the United States
If you or a loved one have been arrested for a drug crime, it is critical that you speak with an experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney right away. Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who has successfully represented those charged with drug crimes at all levels.
For more information about drug crimes, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Michael Kraut at the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Michael Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.