Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

Los Angeles Police Misconduct and Drug Crimes

Posted on: May 13, 2009 at 6:47 a.m.

People facing charges in Los Angeles have a difficult enough time dealing with juries, judges and prosecutors without having to struggle with crooked Los Angeles Police Officers. Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys representing people in court understand that Los Angeles police may have to be investigated if their actions are unethical, such as committing drug crimes.

For example, a former Los Angeles County Sheriffs Deputy and his 21 year-old female accomplice have been charged with conspiracy and six drug-related offenses. Peter Paul Felix, 25, had previously worked as a jailer in the North County Correctional Facility in Castaic. Felix and his accomplice, Monique Ciara Garcia, were caught on October 13, 2008 attempting to smuggle heroin, methamphetamines and marijuana into the correctional facility. Garcia was found with over $5,000 in cash at the time. Both Felix and Garcia pleaded not guilty in court last Wednesday and they each face up to 12 years in a California state prison for these drug crimes.
Los Angeles law enforcement takes all types of drug crimes very seriously and the penalties for a conviction often include prison time. Simple possession of most illegal drugs is considered a felony, with the exception of small amounts of marijuana, which is typically a misdemeanor offense. In Los Angeles it is a felony criminal offense to possess or purchase illegal drugs that you intend to sell.

Prosecutors in such cases do not need to actually prove that you sold the drugs, just that you intended to sell them. They can generally prove this by evidence such as packaging, scales, drug cutting agents or taped conversations with informants or undercover police officers. Sentencing in drug crime cases can be stringent, even for first-time offenders. A defendant convicted for the first time of selling 100 grams to five kilograms of heroin, for example, would be given a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison. Felix and Garcia were found with 161 grams of heroin, 24 grams of methamphetamine and 51 grams of marijuana.

When you are facing potentially years in a state prison, you need a criminal defense attorney experienced in drug crimes. Call the attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP today to fight back.

Tagged as: drug crimes defense


Anna Tutundjian CS 139 on June 13, 2009 at 3:38 p.m. wrote:

Firstly, in regards to the previous comment, I really think there's a slim chance that the bill will be passed. Legalizing marijuana, just doesn't seem realistic. Although, it's for those 21 and older, it essentially gives the green light to experiment to our already highly experimental youth. Now, onto this particular case. I think some necessary measures need to be implemented into regulated LAPD. This is not the first case in which questionable acts were noted and it's safe to say, it won't be the last. It's frightening to hear of these officers who are supposed to be keeping our streets safe and protecting us, in this incriminating light. How can we have any faith in them? However, it is also true that proving intent is very difficult. Though, they rely on physical evidence like packaging, etc., it isn't a full proof and reliable method. For instance, what if they had just bought it and hadn't used it yet, wouldn't it still be packaged?

Vincent Palladino on June 12, 2009 at 6:43 p.m. wrote:

In a related topic, the marijuana law reform in California has been a hot topic for discussion lately. Backers of the Control, Regulate and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, the first major statewide initiative designed to legalize marijuana for personal use, say they are preparing to get the issue on the November 2010 ballot. The initiative backed by TaxCannabis2010.org would legalize up to one ounce for personal possession by adults 21 and older, and would allow cities and counties the option of regulating and taxing it. Adults would be allowed to grow marijuana in a space no larger than 5 feet by 5 feet. In addition to the ballot initiative, San Francisco Assemblyman Tom Ammiano's bill in the state legislature would regulate marijuana like alcohol. Under Ammiano's plan, marijuana would be taxed at $50 per ounce and bring an estimated $1 billion annually into the state.

Brian Ryoo on June 12, 2009 at 11:40 a.m. wrote:

On any given crime, is the punishment harsher for a police officer than for a regular civilian? Police officers are government employees who are entrusted with keeping the society safe and preventing crimes. If they break that trust and commit the crimes that they are supposed to prevent, does the legal system view it any differently than, say, if I had committed those same crimes? I believe that police officers should be punished harder. Some may say that it is discriminating people on the basis of their jobs, but I would argue that police officers are already handled differently by the legal system. One clear example is officer-involved shooting. Police officers are often put in situations where split-second decisions are made with life-and-death consequences. Naturally, officer-involved shootings are treated differently than a regular civilian shooting. I conceded that that is fair. However, if we are willing to make that kind of exceptions for police officers, we should be ready to punish them harder when they violate that trust.

Komel Soin UCLA on June 11, 2009 at 11:20 p.m. wrote:

I don't think that people selling drugs should be charged so harshly for it upon being caught. I think there should be a greater punishment for people who got caught doing the drugs. The sellers are merely players in the game of capitalism. As for the police officers being the ones who were the sellers, I think that under a moral code, they should be punished for going against that which they are meant to protect: the law.

Jordan MacDonald (UCLA) on June 8, 2009 at 8:19 p.m. wrote:

I think that the police should be investigated even if the circumstances are even somewhat questionable since crooked LA police are not exactly uncommon, as described in the case of Sherif Deputy Peter Paul Felix. However, I think it is quite difficult to prove intention to sell drugs since it is impossible to know exactly what someone was planning to do regardless of sale paraphernalia (scale, etc.). Since, as we heard in the case with Mr. Kingston and his possession of pornography, the mere possession of an item does not prove intention to use it. As Caitlin said, intentions are very difficult, if not impossible, to prove. Therefore, as resulted in the very first case we studied about the obbery kit, we must give the defendant the benefit of the doubt.

Caitlin Morrissey (UCLA) on June 6, 2009 at 2:05 p.m. wrote:

I agree with Katy in this situation that it can be both hard and unclear to prove that someone was indeed trying to sell the drugs. I am curious, like Katy asked, as to what condition they found the drugs in when they were taken from Felix and Garcia. Would the condition of the drugs at that point be the arbiter of whether or not they were trying to sell the drugs? Or would additional packing, etc potentially discovered elsewhere like either of their homes be further evidence that would be incriminating as to their intention to sell the drugs? I think that when you get into 'intention' to do anything, it can become very ambiguous, especially in a case like this where their status as policemen who were in possession of drugs could potentially skew perception of their intentions as well.

Asher Luzzatto on May 28, 2009 at 12:15 p.m. wrote:

It seems as though police misconduct is far more prevalent in hard drugs (ie cocaine, meth, heroin, etc) as I have become familiar with a few cases regarding marijuana where police (especially in California) are far more lenient. While it is understandable that the state marijuana laws generate less criminality, when cases do come to light, it is important to have a lawyer who is thoroughly familiar with drug laws because an unknowing offender can be stuck with harsher punishments than are typically deemed necessary.

Katy (Kathryn) Green on May 26, 2009 at 10:56 a.m. wrote:

When it comes to proving intent, lawyers always have a difficult job. Even though they're obviously guilty of possession, it's still somewhat unclear as to whether or not they actually intended to sell and distribute these drugs. For example, packaging, scales, drug cutting agents, and taped conversation can all be used as evidence to prove intent, but to what extent is this evidence valid in this case? What sort of incriminating materials (besides the drugs) were actually found on Felix and Garcia at the time? Despite they're blatant crime of possession, it still seems rather unclear as to whether or not the intent to sell these substances exists.

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