Drug Crimes

Two of the biggest developments in California drug laws in recent years were Voter Propositions 47 and 64 which respectively reduced simple possession of certain narcotics like cocaine and heroin to misdemeanor offenses and legalized possession and cultivation of up to an ounce of marijuana for personal use as well as reduced transportation and sales of up to an ounce of marijuana to a misdemeanor. The applicable code sections implementing these changes are California Health and Safety Code sections 11350, 11362.1 and 11360.

Of course this does not affect the sale or possession for sale of heroin, cocaine or other listed narcotic substances like methamphetamine, which are still felony offenses and generally punishable by various state prison terms to be served in county jail pursuant to Penal Code section 1170(h). Also, sales and/or transportation of marijuana for more than personal use amounts are also still felony conduct.

As with nearly any crime there are mental state issues involved in the sales and especially the possession for sales offenses. An allegation of possession for sale is obviously being recommended by an officer and made by a prosecutor who does not know the particular accused involved and therefore it may be the case that larger quantities in possession are for the personal use of an addict or someone who has built up such a tolerance for a drug like methamphetamine that greater use of these drugs is required than for the average user.

It is therefore important for one who is accused of a drug crime to enlist a lawyer who has experience with defending these kinds of crimes with experts, if necessary, in front of a jury. Also, many drug crime allegations are eligible for drug diversion under Health and Safety Code 1000 which can result in dismissals, or can be dealt with through drug court or individually-tailored drug rehabilitation programs that can keep accused out of custody and return him or her to a drug-free productive life.

Benjamin I. Schiff
Criminal Defense Attorney

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