According to the California Department of Justice, felony drug crimes in the state decreased by 3.6 percent in 2020. Dangerous drug offenses decreased by 6.1 percent, and other drug offenses by 8.1 percent.
In 2014, California voters passed Proposition 47, which changed the state’s Uniform Controlled Substances Act. This made “simple possession” of drugs, such as heroin and cocaine, a misdemeanor. Two years later, the voters passed Proposition 64, which legalized the recreational possession and use of marijuana.
Though the Golden State, thanks to its voters, has relaxed the rules on simple possession and use, there are still serious penalties for the illegal manufacture, distribution, and sale of narcotics. In addition, the federal government also enforces controlled substances laws, especially in regard to the manufacture, sale, and distribution across state lines.
If you’re facing a drug-related charge in or throughout Los Angeles, including the cities of Torrance, Norwalk, Van Nuys, and Compton, contact The Law Office of John Goalwin. Attorney John Goalwin will listen to the details of your situation and work with you on a defense strategy to help minimize the charges or the consequences.
The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and sometimes even the FBI get involved in drug cases that are large scale, occur on federal property, or cross state lines. Even though recreational marijuana use is legal in California, albeit with some restrictions, the federal government still considers marijuana a Schedule 1 controlled substance along with heroin.
If you’re caught in possession of marijuana on federal property – in a court building or even at a national park – you could be subject to federal enforcement. Even though you can legally grow and sell marijuana in California, if you try to distribute and sell it in another state, the feds could be hot on your tail.
The federal Controlled Substances Act of 1971 classifies drugs into what are called Schedules. The five schedules, in descending order of seriousness, are:
Schedule I: Heroin, LSD, Marijuana, Methaqualone
Schedule II: Morphine, PCP, Cocaine
Schedule III: Anabolic Steroids, Codeine, Hydrocodone, and some Barbiturates
Schedule IV: Most Benzodiazepines such as Valium and Xanax
Schedule V: Over-the-counter cough medicines with Codeine
Controlled substance possession in California is covered by Health and Safety Code 11350. Under Proposition 47, it is a misdemeanor offense – punishable by up to one year in county jail or community service and/or a fine of up to $1,000 – to possess any of the following controlled substances for personal use:
Heroin, opium derivatives, and other Schedule I opioids
Mescaline, peyote, and synthetic cannabis
Schedule II opiates and narcotics
Schedule III hallucinogens
Schedule III, IV, or V controlled substances without a valid prescription
Health and Safety Code 11352 addresses possession of controlled substances with the intent to sell or distribute them. Possession with intent to sell or distribute can lead to a felony charge punishable by three to five years in prison.
Methamphetamine, commonly referred to as meth, is covered separately in different Health and Safety Code sections. Though simple possession is a misdemeanor, the sale, distribution, or gift of meth is punishable by two to four years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. Manufacturing meth carries a penalty of three to seven years in prison and/or a fine of up to $50,000.
Under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, you are protected against illegal searches and seizures. This opens up the window of challenging the police who seized the drugs alleged to be in your possession. If you have a container with cocaine sitting in plain sight on your car’s dashboard, that can be legally seized, but if the police do a forcible search of your vehicle without your permission, that can be used as a defense.
Another defense is to claim the drugs belonged to someone else, or that someone set you up, or that the police entrapped you. Prosecutors must also prove that what was seized is the substance they allege it to be. To do that, they must show a laboratory analysis. If they lack that, you can challenge their allegation.
Attorney John Goalwin has been defending clients against drug charges and other allegations for more than four decades. With a capable staff to assist him, he will work with you on a strategy to seek the best available outcome. If you’re facing a drug-related charge in Los Angeles, California, reach out to The Law Office of John Goalwin for help.