Los Angeles County Criminal Defense for Drug-Related Offenses
In California, drug crimes are some of the most widely prosecuted crimes on both the state and federal level. Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners aggressively defends individuals charged with possession, transportation, manufacturing, sales and being under the influence of drugs. Drug charges are serious, are usually prosecuted as felonies and come with a potential state prison commitment.
Why Choose Us?
- Over 50 years of combined criminal law experience
- We are a small firm that produces big firm results
- We focus exclusively on criminal defense
- We give clients personal attention & maintain open lines of communication
- Our clients initially meet with one of the attorneys & not a case manager or secretary
- National media coverage, including ABC, NBC, CNN, Telemundo, and Univision
- We have trial experience & are not afraid to go to trial if necessary. Lawyers who are willing to go to trial often obtain better results than attorneys who are not
- We can assist our clients with bail & in some case we can have our clients released without posting bail
- FREE and confidential in-person consultation
- Services offered in English and Spanish.
If you or someone you know has been arrested, charged or is being investigated for a drug crime, do not hesitate to call our offices at (213) 481-6811for a no-charge consultation with a Los Angeles drug crime attorney.
Understanding California Drug Laws
A drug crime, also known as a drug offense or drug-related offense, refers to any criminal activity involving the unlawful possession, manufacture, distribution, trafficking, or use of controlled substances or illicit drugs. These crimes are typically governed by federal and state laws that classify certain substances as illegal and establish penalties for their unlawful possession, sale, or trafficking.
California has some of the most complex illegal drug and controlled substance laws in the country. A person can be charged for a variety of activities related to illegal drugs:
- Possession (for personal use or sale)
- Sales (including giving drugs to someone)
- Transportation (or trafficking)
- Cultivating or manufacturing
- Attempt to possess, sell, manufacture or transport drugs
- Being under the influence of drugs
"Controlled substances" include illegal drugs like crack or powder cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and crystal meth. They also include use of prescription drugs like painkillers, (OxyContin, Vicodin, Hydrocodone) or ADD drugs (Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta).
How Drug Crimes are Charged
Charges and penalties depend on several factors, including:
- The type and quantity of the drugs involved
- Whether the drugs were for personal use or for sale
- Whether the defendant has a criminal record, especially prior drug convictions
These factors affect whether the drug crime will be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, whether jail or prison is required, the length of incarceration, fine amounts, eligibility for sentencing alternatives (deferred entry of judgment) and enhancements.
Los Angeles Laws on Possession of Drugs for Personal Use
California Health and Safety Code sections 11350 and 11377 make possession of a controlled substance a misdemeanor, unless you have a legal written prescription. Possession of marijuana is usually charged as a misdemeanor. Possession of Marijuana (Health and Safety Code section 11357) is also charged as a felony unless the possession was less than an ounce of marijuana—then the charge is either a misdemeanor or an infraction.
Charges can also be filed for being under the influence of a controlled substance, driving under the influence of a drug (DUI), being present where a controlled substance is being used, and possessing paraphernalia for injecting or smoking controlled substances. If you have been charged with possession of a controlled substance for personal use as a felony, you could be sentenced up to a year in county jail. Most people will be eligible for alternative sentencing (Prop 36 or drug diversion) and avoid jail completely.
Possession of Drugs for Sale
California law makes a distinction between drug possession for personal use and possession for sale. California Health and Safety Code 11351, 11378 and 11351.5 make it a felony to possess drugs for the purpose of selling them. The prosecution does not need to prove that you sold the drugs, but only that you had the intent to sell them. Intent can be proven with circumstantial evidence. Such as the quantity of drugs, the packaging of the drugs, and possession of any scales.
Example: If law enforcement goes to your house and finds drugs in quantities larger than would be normally expected for personal use, this could indicate that there was intent to sell. Other indications of intent to sell drugs may include packaging, scales, cutting agents, large amounts of cash, multiple cell phones, and a fortified location (such as security bars on windows).
In Los Angeles, we have encountered many cases that are mistakenly charged as possession for sale when the drugs were for personal use. Possession for sale carries up to five years in state prison. A conviction for possession of drugs for sale is a "priorable" offense, which means that it will increase the penalties (usually by three years of state prison) for a future drug sales conviction.
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Sales, Transportation & Furnishing of Drugs
California drug trafficking laws prohibit the transporting, importing (bringing drugs into California) or selling, furnishing, or giving away of controlled substances. This drug offense is usually prosecuted as a felony under California's Health and Safety Code sections 11352 or 11379.
This crime is punishable by up to five years in state prison. You can also be charged with trafficking if you aided, abetted or conspired with someone to traffic drugs. Trafficking charges are often filed as a result of a police sting operation, in which case an entrapment defense may be possible.
Manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, deriving, or preparing by chemical extraction or independently by chemical synthesis or preparing drugs is a felony in California and is punishable under Health and Safety Code section 11379.6 by up to seven years in state prison. Cultivating or Harvesting Marijuana is prosecuted as a felony under Health and Safety Code section 11358 and is punishable by up to three years in state prison.
Under the Influence of a Drug
Health and Safety Code section 11550 makes it a misdemeanor to use or be under the influence of a controlled substance except when administered by a person licensed to dispense, prescribe, or administer. Under this same section, it is also a misdemeanor to be unlawfully under the influence of a controlled substance while in immediate possession of a loaded operable firearm.
A subsequent conviction with a prior is prosecuted as a felony. Penalties for misdemeanor Health and Safety Code section 11550 is a minimum sentence of 90 days in county jail or up to one year in county jail. However, most offenders of this charge may qualify for Proposition 36 or DEJ (Deferred Entry of Judgment).
Sentencing Alternatives for California Drug Offenders
We are strong believers and advocates for alternative sentencing for drug offenders, including drug rehabilitation and treatment programs. In Los Angeles, depending on your circumstances you may be eligible for alternative sentencing such as Proposition 36 or Deferred Entry of Judgment (also known as DEJ or Diversion). We have found these programs to be an effective alternative to county jail or state prison.
- Proposition 36 – Prop 36
The Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act, also known as "Prop 36," allows individuals charged with first or second time non-violent, simple drug possession offenses to get substance abuse treatment as an alternative to incarceration. A Proposition 36 sentence requires treatment for up to one year, with an additional six months of aftercare treatment.
- Deferred Entry of Judgment - DEJ
For a Deferred Entry of Judgment, the defendant must enter a guilty plea, but he or she is not convicted. For 18 months, the case is put on hold while the defendant takes drug education classes and shows he or she can avoid being arrested or convicted of another crime. If the defendant succeeds, the charges are not entered on the defendant's criminal record and the charge is dismissed.
- Pretrial Diversion Programs - For first-time offenders facing drug-related charges, pretrial diversion programs provide an opportunity to avoid the formal criminal justice process and potential conviction by completing specified requirements, such as drug treatment or education programs. In exchange for their participation and successful completion of these programs, the charges against them are typically dismissed, and they may avoid the stigma and consequences associated with a criminal conviction.
- Drug Court - Drug Court is a specialized judicial system established to handle cases involving individuals charged with drug-related offenses. These courts operate differently from traditional criminal courts, focusing primarily on addressing the underlying substance abuse issues that may have led to the individual's involvement in criminal activity. Drug Courts aim to provide a more rehabilitative approach to justice, emphasizing treatment, supervision, and support rather than solely focusing on punishment.
Common Legal Defenses AGainst Drug Charges
A legal defense is a strategy used by individuals accused of a crime to counter the prosecution's case and avoid conviction. Legal defenses can vary depending on the circumstances of the case and the specific laws involved. These defenses are aimed at providing justifications, excuses, or explanations for the accused individual's actions, ultimately aiming to cast doubt on their guilt or reduce the severity of the charges.
Common legal defenses against drug charges include:
- Lack of Possession: Claiming that the accused did not actually possess the drugs in question. This defense might argue that the drugs were planted, belonged to someone else, or were unknowingly present.
- Illegal Search and Seizure: Asserting that law enforcement violated the accused's Fourth Amendment rights by conducting an unlawful search and seizure, leading to the discovery of the drugs. If evidence was obtained illegally, it may be suppressed in court.
- Entrapment: Arguing that the accused was induced or coerced by law enforcement into committing the drug-related offense that they would not have otherwise committed.
- Invalid Warrant or Arrest: Challenging the validity of the warrant used for the arrest or search, asserting that it was obtained improperly or lacked sufficient probable cause.
- Medical Necessity: In cases where the accused was using drugs for medical reasons, such as marijuana for pain relief, a defense of medical necessity may be raised.
- Mistake of Fact: Claiming that the accused was unaware of the presence of drugs or believed them to be something else entirely due to a mistake or misunderstanding.
- Duress or Coercion: Arguing that the accused was compelled to possess or distribute drugs under threat of harm to themselves or others.
- Insufficient Evidence: Asserting that the prosecution does not have enough evidence to prove the accused's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
- Violation of Miranda Rights: Contending that law enforcement failed to properly inform the accused of their Miranda rights, leading to statements or evidence being improperly obtained.
- Police Misconduct: Alleging misconduct or malpractice on the part of law enforcement officers involved in the investigation or arrest, which may include planting evidence, tampering with witnesses, or falsifying reports.
These are just a few examples of legal defenses that can be used against drug charges. The effectiveness of each defense depends on the specific circumstances of the case, the applicable laws, and the skill of the defense attorney in presenting the case in court.
Our Los Angeles Drug Crime Lawyers Can Protect You
If you or someone you know is facing drug charges, call us to discuss your legal situation. We have defended hundreds of clients in the Los Angeles area facing criminal charges ranging from possession to sales and manufacturing of drugs. The criminal justice system is stacked against you, but we can help.
One of our team attorneys, Kenneth J. Kahn, is a former Major Narcotics Los Angeles prosecutor who worked closely with Federal and State agencies such as the FBI, DEA, California Dept. of Justice, LAPD, and LA County Sherriff's Department. As part of the criminal defense team of Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners, Mr. Kahn uses his experience to help our clients defend against their criminal drug charges. Let us put our 70 years plus of combined legal experience to work for you.
God Bless you Stephen, wish you all the successes in life.
“Stephen is a great contact and extremely helpful and knowledgeable. I am glad that I was his client in the past. Top lawyer, top man. God Bless you Stephen, wish you all the successes in life.”
Don't hesitate to contact them!
“I was referred to this group of Attorneys. I was started with a low cost made arrangements. My case had to do with assault allegations. The case was dismissed they helped me not to loose my daughter to the system.”
Defendant charged with possession of a loaded firearm at the airport.
Defendant charged with felony theft charges (with prior theft conviction).
Defendant charged with felony Battery.
Defendant Charged with Felony Battery.
Arrested for Felony rape of a minor
Comprehensive Defense Strategies
We focus on the facts of the case to create a strategic defense. We work tirelessly for our clients, prepare for trial, and work toward securing the best possible outcome – whether that be a dismissal, reduction in charges, or alternative sentencing.
We provide step-by-step guidance throughout each phase of the process. The criminal justice system can be a confusing and frightening place, which is why we support our clients every step of the way. We provide the confidence you need to move forward.
75+ Years of Combined Criminal Law Experience
At Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners, our defense attorneys have the ability and experience to handle even the most complex criminal cases. From misdemeanors to serious felonies, no case is too small or large for us to handle.
Communication And Personal Attention
We make ourselves available at all times, responding promptly to our clients' calls. Initial in-office consultations are free and include an in-depth discussion of your situation. Throughout all points of your case, your lawyer will keep you informed.