Los Angeles Drug Possession and Distribution Defense Attorneys
Being charged with any crime is no easy thing. You must go through the humiliation of an arrest: handcuffs, police cars, holding cells, and all. Worse, you must then face your own trial, where your character will be attacked for everyone to see, and the prosecution will do everything they can to prove to those attending, which could include your friends and family, that you are a criminal worthy of punishment.
Given our country’s traumatic relationship with drugs, the prosecution is likely to do everything they can to land you behind bars. That is why you need one of the best defense teams in Los Angeles. At Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP, we take pride in providing our clients with the time, attention, and support that they truly need. If you are facing drug possession or distribution charges, then you need the best California has to offer. Call our firm at (213) 688-0460 today.
In California, possession of a controlled substance is outlined in Health and Safety Code 11350 HS, which makes the possession of an unprescribed controlled substance a misdemeanor. A controlled substance is any drug that has been deemed too dangerous by the government to be sold freely. Instead, these drugs must be prescribed to you by a medical professional. Some drugs that may lead to a charge of possession include cocaine, LSD, Vicodin, and Oxycontin.
Having one of these drugs on your person in any amount without a prescription is considered illegal. The prescription itself must also be lawful – it cannot be a forgery or the result of doctor shopping. Otherwise, you may also be facing a charge of prescription fraud, which carries heavy penalties.
If you are charged with drug possession, you will be facing a potential misdemeanor conviction with penalties including:
- Up to one year in county jail
- A fine of up to $1,000
While possession is usually a misdemeanor, it can be a felony charge if certain aggravating factors are present: for example, if you have a criminal history that includes violent sex crimes, or another drug-related felony. In such a case, your punishment may be lengthened to three years in county jail, as well as the usual loss of rights that most felons face upon conviction.
However, if you do not have a criminal history at all, the judge may decide to forgo jail altogether and instead enroll you in a drug rehabilitation program. Upon completion of the program, you may be released back home.
Distribution is considered a far more serious crime than possession, as you are believed to be endangering the health of others, as well as profiting from the sale of controlled substances. The actual law on drug distribution is laid out in California Health and Safety Code 11352 HS, where it is labeled a felony, meaning that a conviction for distribution will result in at least a year in prison.
It is important to remember that this particular distribution law does not cover all controlled substances. For example, it does not include the sale of marijuana, as that drug, while still classified as a controlled substance under federal law, is legal in California and thus regulated through a different series of laws. On a similar note, stimulants, such as methamphetamines, are not covered under California Health and Safety Code 11352 HS and are instead controlled under a different set of laws. Drugs included under California Health and Safety Code 11352 HS include, but are not limited to:
This law strictly prohibits many acts in relation to the distribution of drugs, outside of just selling them. You may be charged with distribution if you transport drugs with the intent to sell, give controlled substances away, or administer drugs to other people. Even if you do not receive any profit for handing out these controlled substances, you can still face distribution charges.
If you are convicted of distributing drugs, you could be facing:
- Between three and nine years in jail
- A fine of up to $20,000
There are several aggravating factors that could lead to a harsher penalty if you are convicted. For example, if you were found to be distributing near recovery centers or homeless shelters, then you may be facing an additional year in prison. Similarly, if you were found to be selling or giving drugs to certain “at risk” people, such as minors, pregnant women, or someone being treated for a mental illness, then the judge is very likely to seek the harshest possible punishment, which could involved adding several years to your prison sentence.
As with any crime, it is up to the prosecution to prove, without a reasonable doubt, that you are guilty of the crime you have been charged with. So your defense must create some level of doubt in the jury’s mind regarding the prosecution’s story. While completely disproving the prosecution would be helpful in a trial, it is not necessary, so long as enough doubt is created.
This means that your defense attorney should start with looking at what the prosecution must prove, before building their own arguments. When it comes to a possession charge, there are five “elements of the crime,” that the prosecution must be able to show:
- You possessed a controlled substance
- You did not have a legal prescription for the controlled substance
- You knew that you were in possession of the substance
- You knew that the substance was controlled, and thus, illegal without a prescription
- The amount you possessed was a usable amount
If the prosecution is unable to prove all five of these elements, then a possession charge should not be able to stick. This means that all a skilled defense attorney has to do is go after one of these five elements and show that it isn’t true, thus rendering a charge of possession invalid.
On the other hand, when it comes to distribution, there is a different criteria that prosecution must be able to prove. That is because distribution is a broader crime, with multiple criminal acts falling under the label. In order for the prosecution of be successful, they must be able to show that you:
- Sold, administered, gave, or transported a controlled substance
- Knew of the drug’s presence on your person or property
- Knew that the substance was controlled and illegal
- Had a usable amount of the drug
Once you understand the basic elements of each crime, and what the prosecution must go through in order to get a conviction, it becomes much easier to build a good defense. Of course, you should still leave the legal work to your attorney.
The key to defending against a possession or distribution charge is to tackle different elements of each crime. If you can disprove just one element, then it is likely that your charges will be lowered, or even dropped. However, that still requires evidence and legal experience. After all, every case is different, meaning every defense is different. That being said, some commonly used defenses for both possession and distribution charges include:
- You were unaware the substance you had was controlled or illegal
- You were unaware you had the substance on your person or property at all
- You had a legal prescription for the substance
- You were neither giving, administering, nor selling the drug, and only had it for personal use
- The officers who arrested you committed misconduct
The process of gathering evidence and building a case can take a great deal of time and resources, neither of which you have in jail while awaiting trial, or even at home if you were released. That is why you need to work with a skilled and experienced attorney who can give you the time and attention you need.
A good lawyer will know exactly what parts of the prosecution’s arguments to pinpoint and tear apart. We at Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP aren’t just good; we’re some of the best. With our help, you can rest assured that your trial is being taken care of by skilled drug crime defense attorneys. We will work tirelessly to make sure that your charges are lessened or completely dropped. If you or a loved one has been charges with drug possession or distribution, call Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP at (213) 688-0460 to schedule a free consultation today.
Recent Case Results
- Complete Dismissal of Molestation Charges
Attorney Mark Werksman’s 29 year old client was falsely accused of molesting two neighborhood children and was subsequently charged with felony child molestation, with a significant prison sentence hanging over his head should he be convicted. Instead, at the preliminary hearing Werksman was able to convince the court to grant his client a complete dismissal of any charges.
- Decision Set Aside
Client, a college student in a faulty Title IX case, was awarded $130,000 in attorney fees.
- Probation with No Jail Time for Drug Money Laundering Charge
Wilmington man accused in New York federal court of laundering drug money through the sale of laptop computers. Mark was able to get the case transferred to federal court in Los Angeles, where he convinced the United States Attorney to reduce the charges. His client was sentenced to probation with no jail time on a misdemeanor conviction.