Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog


California Drug Crimes: Different Drugs, Different Penalties, Aggressive Defense

Posted on: August 26, 2008 at 9:45 a.m.

Federal drug offenses can have a complex sentencing structure, dependent upon type of drug, the amount of drug, number of previous offenses and the surrounding factors of the arrest. Federal criminal lawyers in Los Angeles are quite familiar with the United States Sentencing Guildelines used to assess sentencing issues for drug charges in federal court.

For example, if a person is arrested for the first time in a drug trafficking violation with 10 grams of pure methamphetamine, he faces the possibility no less than 5 years in prison. However, if it's 50 grams of pure methamphetamine, then no less than ten years. Certain drugs, usually those considered more dangerous or addictive, such as methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, PCP, crack and the like carry heavy time in jail as well as heavy fines. Second offenses can keep an individual in jail for a decade or more, and a third offense can equal life imprisonment. Of course, the goverment must first prove these offenses beyond a reasonable doubt. Aggressive criminal defense of drug charges works to preclude such heavy sentencing.

The federal drug offense penalty for trafficking marijuana is equally as harsh, but the amount one would need to get a 10-year+ sentence is 1,000 kilograms or 1,000 or more plants. Possessing 100 - 999 Kgs or 100 - 999 plants would amount to a sentence of 5-10 years. Both of these sentences are for first time drug offenses.

What it comes down to, is federal and state drug enforcement agencies take all drug offenses seriously; one statistic shows that there were 95 arrests per hour in the United States in 2006 (up from 2 per hour in 1966), and that's just for marijuana. During the past two decades, California experienced a 25-fold increase in the number of drug offenders sentenced to state prison.

Every drug offense, from possession to trafficking should be taken seriously, and competent attorneys are needed in every case. Life sentences are possible, in both state and federal court, where the recovered quantity is high and there is an extensive criminal history (example: three strikes legislation in California).

Tagged as: drug crimes defense







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