Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

Los Angeles Drug Crimes Attorney and Playboy Bunnies

Posted on: June 8, 2011 at 10:09 p.m.

Whenever the general public thinks about a Playboy Playmate, they usually think of elegance, class and the opportunities such a distinction provides. However, many of these women have serious challenges in life, and even need the assistance of a skilled Los Angeles Drug Crimes Attorney to keep them out of prison or free from fines. In a recent case, Playboy Playmate Suzanne Stokes was put in prison after police said the actress was carrying meth in her car. Stokes, Miss February 2000, was originally pulled over for blowing through a stop sign. However, during the stop of the 31 year old, police learned that there was an active warrant for her arrest stemming from a previous traffic violation. Cops then performed a search of her car and found methamphetamines. Stokes was taken to a nearby jail after her arrest and was booked on a felony drug possession charge. She was released after posting $11,000 bail. All of this took place in Hollywood in the early morning hours, a time when many people are partying and police tend to troll for drunk drivers and other potentially dangerous behavior.

As you can see, Ms. Stokes will absolutely need a skilled Attorney to protect her freedoms as she is not only dealing with a drug crime, but a warrant for her arrest. As a felony, she could be facing years in prison, heavy fines and probation that will complicate the rest of her life. Probation can prohibit the types of travel that are necessary for any actress, and can make simple actions that regular people can do very difficult. Stokes will have a difficult time with prosecutors because of her warrant, so she'll need a lawyer who can plea bargain, make deals and convince the judge or lawyer to side with their client.

If you or someone you love has been arrested for a drug crime, contact the Attorneys at Kestenbaum Eisner & Gorin, LLP today. Our lawyers can sit down with you, examine your case and help you build the best defense possible. Getting arrested in Los Angeles or Hollywood can be scary, but with an experienced lawyer working with you, it does not have to be the end of the road for your freedom. Call today at 877-781-1570.

Tagged as: drug crimes defense

Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorneys and Celebrity Drug Charges

Posted on: April 26, 2011 at 1:47 a.m.

You may remember Antoine Dodson from his "hide ya kids, hide ya wife" screams when someone attempted to rape a tenant in his apartment complex. Now, however, Mr. Dodson is known for being arrested for marijuana possession and is in need of a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney to represent him. Dodson was arrested in Alabama by Huntsville police at roughly 2:30 in the morning. He was booked on misdemeanor charges of possession of marijuana and released shortly there after. According to the jail's website, Dodson was hit with other misdemeanor charges, two of which were for failing to appear on a traffic charge and one was for failing to have insurance. He also has a speeding charge.

Dodson was made famous when he loudly called out an alleged attempted rapist in his community. He has since made numerous appearances on talk shows, including Tosh.0, and had many parody songs dedicated to himself and his outlandish "hide ya kids" rant. The celebrity may have contributed to his new found drug habit.

Marijuana possession may not seem like a serious thing, but as any Defense Attorney will tell you, any criminal case is a severe threat. This case may just have been a misdemeanor, but it could create problems if there are any future drug charges. In fact, even a misdemeanor could lead to jail time if the judge decides such action is warranted. Dodson is not the first celebrity in trouble this week. Nic Cage was arrested for potential domestic violence charges and ex-Destiny's Child singer Farrah Franklin was arrested for disturbing the peace in Los Angeles. The lawyer in these cases will work tirelessly to defend them, but people of all walks of life can find themselves facing severe legal troubles in criminal court.

If you or someone you love has been charged with, arrested for or accused of a drug crime, contact Kestenbaum Eisner & Gorin, LLP by calling 877-781-1570. Our skilled lawyers can provide a top notch criminal defense, and our ability to defend you in court is backed by our successful track record. Call us today for your initial consultation and let us help keep you out of prison and free from fines.

Tagged as: drug crimes defense

Celebrities and Drug Busts

Posted on: November 17, 2010 at 7:45 p.m.

Drug offenses are serious, for famous, infamous and the regular joe's of the world. Many people seem to think that California is somehow relaxing its drug laws, as Prop 19 was recently on the national ballot. However, state and federal authorities are prosecuting drug laws as serious as ever, and Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyers are working harder than ever to keep their clients out of jail from drug prosecutions. A recent example of a celebrity being arrested for drugs involves disc jockey Darrin Ebron who runs Goodlife American Clothing and was the DJ at Eddie Murphy's wedding in 2008. Ricky Brascom and Charles Ransom, both of whom are executive officers of Behind da Scenes Entertainment, were arrested as well. Behind da Scenes Entertainment's main artist is rapper Paypa. The arrest was over an alleged drug ring, where authorities say nearly 300 kilograms of cocaine and $1.1 million were shuttle in private jets from Los Angeles to Baltimore, MD. The charges involve drug trafficking and money laundering, which will provide any Attorney enough work to fill the next six months to a year.

If these men are convicted, they could be facing up to life in prison for these drug offenses. Investigators used wiretaps to track the shipments. The U.S. Attorneys office said that even though 50 kilograms of cocaine were discovered in September, the drugs were still shipped across the country. Authorities allege that Brascom is the drug ring's leader while Ransom shipped cocaine to his own distributors in Baltimore. Famous entertainers such as Usher, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake and Kanye West have all been implicated in this situation as well, with one defendant claiming they are his clientele.

For the average person, being arrested for even a misdemeanor drug offense could lead to a lifetime or difficulties. Limited career options, difficulties in living areas and a mark on your legal record are all part of any conviction. Having a knowledgeable and skilled Defense Attorney working on your behalf could be the difference between spending six months in prison and having a clean record. The damage that can be done to your life, your family and your future from one drug conviction is irreparable.

Tagged as: drug crimes defense

Drug Crimes, Violent Crimes and More in San Fernando

Posted on: September 24, 2010 at 7:27 p.m.

Who says marijuana is not a violent drug?

Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer represents someone charged with a drug crime, he usually has a specific type of situation on his hands. He is either defending a client who is facing a possession charge, a trafficking charge or some other type of felony or misdemeanor. However, when a violent crime is involved in a drug crime, that makes the job of the Defense Attorney that much more difficult. For example, there was a recent shooting at a medical marijuana clinic in Echo Park that has led to a difficult investigation.

This week, a second man pleaded not guilty to murder charges stemming from a fatal shooting at this marijuana clinic. Raymond Lemone Easter, who has actually been featured on the Fox Broadcasting series "America's Most Wanted" was arrested in Van Nuys and charged with the shooting murder of Matthew Butcher. He is also charged with the attempted murder of the security guard at the medicial marijuana clinic who was wounded during the shooting. Another defendant was also arrested and pleaded not guilty.

Easter remains jailed without bail and there has been no comment yet from a Attorney. Two other suspects are still being sought in the case and a hearing is set for November 18 to determine whether there is enough evidence to require the two men in custody to stand trial.

Drug crimes and violent crimes require a skilled Criminal Attorney who understands the law and who knows exactly how to handle complex legal situations. While a public defender may have far too much on his or her plate, you can hire a private lawyer to defend you more effectively. Kestenbaum Eisner & Gorin, LLP can help you get the best defense possible for your felony or misdemeanor. Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor drug possession charge or a felony violent crime, you need a skilled lawyer today.

As this case progresses, there will be criminal investigations, expert witnesses and some of the best lawyers the government of Los Angeles has to offer. If the defendants are not prepared, they could be behind bars for the rest of their lives.

Tagged as: drug crimes defense

San Fernando Drug Crime Defense Attorneys

Posted on: July 30, 2010 at 6:28 p.m.

As any San Fernando Drug Crime Defense Attorney will tell you, not every drug crime in L.A. has to do with illegal drugs. Quite often, people or healthcare professionals will abuse prescription drugs, either buying them, selling them or using them in an illegal manner. Doctors and patients can face serious consequences if they are convicted of illegally using or distributing prescription drugs, making the need for a Defense Attorney all the more important.

A former doctor in San Fernando is in desperate need of a Attorney not for selling pot, coke, crack or acid, rather for selling painkiller prescriptions in his San Fernando clinic. The doctor was convicted in May 2009 of 13 felony counts of unlawful distribution of oxycodone without a medical purpose and illegally writing prescriptions to people under the age of 21. There is also one count of causing the death of a young man in April 2008 after he overdosed on pills prescribed by the doctor. If convicted, the man is facing a maximum life sentence.

The prosecution has painted the doctor as a corrupt, greedy physician who pocketed more than $1 million per year by selling prescriptions for oxycodone, a federally controlled synthetic opiate in OxyContin. A jury was deadlocked on convicting the doctor on the death of the young man who overdosed at a rehab facility. The doctor's Attorney defended his client because he "believed his patient" when claiming pain or illness. Many of the addicts who got drugs from the man and testified told stories of how they claimed to have back or shoulder pain in order to get the drugs.

If you or someone you love is facing drug charges based upon prescription drugs, or if you are a healthcare professional facing serious consequences based upon patient testimony, you need a skilled lawyer fighting on your behalf. Call the attorneys at Kestenbaum Eisner & Gorin, LLP today by calling 877-781-1570.

Tagged as: drug crimes defense

Los Angeles Medical Marijuana and the NAACP

Posted on: June 28, 2010 at 10:05 p.m.

One of the hottest topics in the law today regards the legalization of marijuana. As states, such as California, struggle to make their budgets work, they are looking for new areas of revenue. In the past, states have legalized things such as gambling in order to raise new money for programs. In many ways however, these areas have been tapped out. Los Angeles Criminal Attorneys, however, will tell you that there is an area of the law where countless "low level" offenders are sent to jail for crimes which really do not have a victim. In many cases, these drug crimes cause a non-white citizen to be thrown in jail, making prisons disproportionally filled with minorities.

As a result, the state is considering legalizing marijuana. Currently, Medical Marijuana is legalized in the state of California due to laws that were passed and enacted in the 1990's. Now, organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) are promoting the repeal of certain laws because they take a heavy toll on minorities. According to the NAACP, the "war on drugs" has failed and has targeted many young African American males and females. The group pointed to a study done by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice that showed that in 2009, 62 percent of the state's marijuana arrests were of nonwhite suspects, and 42 percent were under 20 years of age. Throughout the state's 25 largest counties, those statistics held up.

If the person is found with a large quantity of drugs, they could be charged with a felony; or, if they are charged with trying to sell drugs, they will be charged with a felony. A felony drug charge in L.A. could lead to years in prison, even if it was for nothing more than a few joints.

At Kestenbaum Eisner & Gorin, represent people everyday who are fighting for their lives due to failed California drug policies. People with children, jobs and more on the line face years in prison because they are accused of using even small amounts of pot. Even Medical Marijuana has come under intense scrutiny from the City of Los Angeles, with medical marijuana dispensaries being shut down due to new city rules.

If you or someone you love needs a Criminal Defense Lawyer in order to fight a drug charge, contact our lawyers for the high level of legal experience necessary to get the best result from your particular case.

Tagged as: drug crimes defense

Los Angeles Marijuana Facility Found in Woodland Hills

Posted on: March 17, 2010 at 6:15 p.m.

When a Los Angeles Drug Crime Lawyer defends someone accused of a drug offense, they are fighting more than just the law. Anyone accused of, or charged with, a drug offense leads to being viewed as a pariah, as if only truly devious people can be caught up in a drug charge. Every Attorney understands that countless respected professionals, high profile celebrities, prominent politicians and professional athletes have been arrested for, or spent time in jail for, drug crimes.

In this particular drug offense situation, a man was arrested for having 50 marijuana plants in his Woodland Hills home. To make matters more interesting, these marijuana plants were found because the man was attacked and called the police over the break in. He was beaten and robbed by two men in their 20's, and while police were investigating the incident, they found the marijuana plants.

One possible area a Defense Attorney could focus on in such a case is the way in which the police investigated the crime and searched the premises. For example, there are specific guidelines the LAPD must follow when looking over a crime scene. If they overstep their bounds, a skilled Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney could prove that the search was illegal.

Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP is a criminal defense law firm that has been helping clients throughout Southern California contest their criminal charges and obtain superior results for years. Our skilled drug crimes attorneys have over 50 years of collective court room experience and we are fully prepared to undertake our clients’ cases. When we work with our clients, we do everything possible to make sure that they receive the attention, resources, and dedicated legal counsel that they deserve.

Tagged as: drug crimes defense, los angeles drug crimes defense attorney

NASCAR and Meth Charges

Posted on: July 16, 2009 at 10:48 a.m.

Any Los Angeles criminal defense attorney will tell you that drug crimes are a serious offense and can be heavily prosecuted by Los Angeles police. Drug crimes include drug possession, drug sales, drug trafficking and drug manufacturing, all of which can be charged as felonies or misdemeanors. You may not always be able to predict just who will be an addict or a drug crime offender, and in fact many celebrities use drugs that are a big surprising.

When you think about celebrity drug use, you may be thinking in regards to cocaine or some "fancy" drug. However, as recent events have shown, many celebrity drug crimes involve drugs you may think are "lower class" drugs.

NASCAR driver Jeremy Mayfield tested positive for Meth recently, highlighting a long history of alleged drug use. When people think of Meth, they don't think about professional athletes with millions of dollars; they usually think of a trailer in the High desert. However, this drug crime and others are perpetrated by people of all walks of life.

A quality Los Angeles criminal defense attorney who defends drug crimes will counsel you through any investigations, interrogation and so forth. Los Angeles drug crimes defense involves sophisticated legal technique, and a top-notch understanding of Los Angeles Drug crime law.

The state of California has zero tolerance when it comes to drug related offenses. All drug crimes are taken seriously by law enforcement and prosecuted to the fullest extent. Commonly committed drug crimes include: drug possession, drug possession with intent to sell, possession of drug paraphernalia, drug manufacturing, drug trafficking, drug distribution, drug cultivation, and money laundering.

If you have been charged with a serious criminal offense, do not hesitate to call Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP at (877) 781-1570. Our knowledgeable legal team can evaluate your case and advise you of your legal options.

Tagged as: drug crimes defense

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

Drug & Weapon Possession in Los Angeles

Posted on: May 12, 2009 at 12:14 p.m.

Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys represent many individuals who are facing drug possession charges as well as weapons possession charges. This delicate area of the law requires a competent Los Angeles criminal defense attorney who knows and understands the laws involved. High-profile cases involving drug possession in Los Angeles may get a great deal of interest, but for the people involved the consequences are very real.
Tina Fortenberry, receptionist to singer and actress Barbara Streisand, was recently arrested on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu for drug possession of both cocaine and methamphetamines, as well as possession of a weapon. Malibu police initially pulled Fortenberry over for expired license plate tags, then found the weapon and drugs when they approached her car. The weapon reportedly found in Fortenberrys car was a sap, which is similar to nunchakus. Fortenberry was reportedly on her way to the post office with some mail for Streisand when she was stopped. No date for Fortenberrys arraignment has been given.
Drug possession and weapons possession charges may sound relatively harmless, but Los Angeles law enforcement takes them very seriously and a conviction on either charge can land you in jail. Possession of drugs and weapons can, under Los Angeles law, be classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the facts of each case. In general, people tend to think of weapons possession charges as involving an actual firearm, but in reality there are many, many types of weapons where possession would constitute a criminal offense. Illegal weapons in Los Angeles include knives, daggers, brass knuckles, nunchakus and many other martial arts weapons. Technically, even everyday items such as a box cutter or car keys can become deadly weapons if you use them to harm someone. As is the case with actual firearms, possession in the proper context and with the proper documentation is legal and allowable.
Depending on Fortenberrys criminal record, her weapons possession charge will most likely be considered a misdemeanor offense. If she is convicted, she will most likely face a fine and potentially up to one year in a county jail. In this case, the drug possession charges are more likely to land her in jail if she is convicted. In Los Angeles, drug possession of most illegal drugs is considered a felony, with the exception of smaller amounts of marijuana, which is often a misdemeanor criminal offense. Assuming Fortenberry was driving in her own car and not one provided by her employers, the prosecution will have to prove that she knew the drugs were in the car, which is not always as easy as it may seem. If convicted of drug possession, Fortenberry may be able to take advantage of Los Angeles Proposition 36, which allows first or second time non-violent drug offenders to complete a specified drug treatment program instead of serving time in a county jail.
Dealing with drug and weapons possession charges can be complex and stressful, given the potential consequences.

If you have been charged with either drug or weapons possession, call the attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP today to begin preparing your defense.

Tagged as: counterfeit goods pc 350, drug crimes defense

Drug Arrests in Los Angeles International Airport

Posted on: March 11, 2009 at 10:50 a.m.

In Los Angeles, drug penalties can be a serious challenge; however, when drug offenses occur at Los Angeles International Airport, any Los Angeles criminal defense attorney will tell you that the problems are compounded. Los Angeles drug offense attorneys know that the drug laws involving airport infractions are more complicated than at other locations.

Many people assume that celebrities get preferential treatment when it comes to drug issues. However, the recent arrest of rapper Coolio (real name Artis Leon Ivey, Jr.) is evidence that even the rich and famous can get caught in the wrong. The 45 year-old rapper, best known for his 1995 hit single, "Gangstas Paradise," was arrested last Friday at Los Angeles International Airport when security screeners found drugs and drug paraphernalia in his luggage.

Ivey is officially charged with one count of felony possession, one misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia and one misdemeanor count of battery as he grabbed a security screeners arm just before his bags were searched. Ivey was released after posting $10,000 bail and is scheduled to be arraigned April 3rd and faces up to three years in prison if convicted.

In Los Angeles, possession of any illegal drugs or controlled substances without a prescription is a criminal offense, as is the possession of drug paraphernalia. For most controlled substances, possession for personal use is classified as a felony, with the notable exception of marijuana, which is generally classified as a misdemeanor. Possession of drug-related paraphernalia or being caught under the influence of any illegal drug or controlled substance without a prescription are both generally misdemeanor offenses.

Most drug offense penalties depend on a variety of factors including the quantity and type of drug used (or found, in this case), whether the drugs in question were for personal use or sale, and the prior criminal record of the defendant, especially as it relates to drug offenses. Media outlets have reported that the drug found in Iveys luggage was cocaine, which will obviously carry a greater penalty than would a "lesser" drug such as marijuana. The rappers last criminal offense occurred in June of 2008 when he was arrested on an outstanding warrant for driving with a suspended license.

Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP is a criminal defense law firm that has been helping clients throughout Southern California contest their criminal charges and obtain superior results for years. Our skilled drug crimes attorneys have over 50 years of collective court room experience and we are fully prepared to undertake our clients cases. When we work with our clients, we do everything possible to make sure that they receive the attention, resources, and dedicated legal counsel that they deserve.

Tagged as: counterfeit goods pc 350, drug crimes defense

Drug Crimes In Los Angeles

Posted on: February 20, 2009 at 11:49 a.m.

Los Angeles drug crime lawyers regularly defend clients throughout Los Angeles county who are up against harsh consequences. Drug charges, including possession, distribution, manufacturing and transporting, bring heavy sentences in Los Angeles, including jail time, fines, probation, counseling and more.

Recently, two men were accused of making and distributing MDMA, popularly known as ecstasy. Ecstasy is known as a club drug in Los Angeles, and it's dangerous because if the person taking the drug gets too dehydrated, they could die.

The two suspects, who live inSanta Barbara, were taken into federal custody on Thursday by agents who served warrants in Los Angeles, Van Nuys, Venice, La Verne, Santa Barbara and Carpinteria. Investigators raided an MDMA lab in the Glassell Park area and confiscated about 500 MDMA tablets, along with a "substantial" amount of chemicals used to manufacture the drug. The suspects will be prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's office in Los Angeles.

These suspects could be facing serious drug penalty charges, and federal officials usually come down harder on drug offenses in Los Angeles than local prosecutors. Los Angeles drug defense lawyers who defend those accused in federal court understand that there are subtle differences between federal, state and city charges for drug crimes.

Due to the life-altering legal consequences that are involved, it is always in a persons best interest to obtain the services of a criminal defense attorney who has the legal background and knowledge it takes to successfully fight drug crime charges.

Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP is a criminal defense law firm that has been helping clients throughout Southern California contest their criminal charges and obtain superior results for years. Our skilled drug crimes attorneys have over 50 years of collective court room experience and we are fully prepared to undertake our clients cases. When we work with our clients, we do everything possible to make sure that they receive the attention, resources, and dedicated legal counsel that they deserve.

Tagged as: drug crimes defense

Marijuana Crimes in Los Angeles

Posted on: February 5, 2009 at 7:54 a.m.

Marijuana can create a tangled legal web because while in Los Angeles it is legal to have medical marijuana, the federal government has not made it legal. In Los Angeles, there are medical marijuana dispensaries and individuals who grow marijuana illegally and smuggle it throughout the city. Los Angeles drug defense attorneys know that their clients could be bombarded by legal troubles from all sides when it comes to defending marijuana charges.

For example,a raid by federal agents of several medical marijuana dispensaries on the west side of Los Angeles has generated outrage among advocates of the drug, some of whom had expressed hope that the federal government would halt such crackdowns once President Obama took office. At least three groups of officers with the Drug Enforcement Administration simultaneously served search warrants on dispensaries Tuesday.

In 1996, California and Los Angeles voters passed Proposition 215, which legalized marijuana for seriously ill patients and reduced criminal penalties for possession. But that conflicts with federal law. Medical marijuana advocates were hopeful when Obama, while on the campaign trail, said he supported prescriptions for medical marijuana as long as the drug was regulated and that he didn't plan to use Justice Department resources to circumvent state laws. Tuesday's raids showed that, so far, things haven't changed.

On the flip side, at least 15 people have been arrested in connection with the scheme to ship 1,800 pounds of pot in 200 concrete burros, which were discovered last month in a shipping container at the Port of Long Beach. The donkey shipment was believed to have originated in Mexico and had been sent to a fictitious business in Fontana. U.S. customs officials acting on a tip discovered the contraband and alerted nearly a dozen agencies that make up the Los Angeles Border Enforcement Security Task Force. Marijuana was found hidden inside the hollow lawn statues, which are 3 feet tall and weigh 100 pounds, Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Virginia Kice said.

If you're facing drug charges, you could be dealing with state agencies or federal agencies, and you need a qualified drug defense lawyer who knows the difference between the laws and the penalties of those laws. The marijuana defense lawyers at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin have fifty years combined experience dealing with the various marijuana laws throughout the city of Los Angeles, the state of California and the United States federal laws.

Tagged as: drug crimes defense

Religious Belief NOT a Defense to Marijuana Case

Posted on: December 27, 2008 at 11 a.m.

A California court recently ruled on religion and marijuana defense law. The Court found that aman who sold marijuana from a Hollywood facility he called a church did not have a constitutional right to sell or possess the drug.

The Courtaffirmedthe conviction on charges of selling marijuana and possessing marijuana for sale. Defendant had beenplacedprobation on condition that he serve 90 days in jail.

Defendant, dubbed The Hollywood Wizard of Weed by the magazine High Times, was arrested in November 2006 after a police raid on Temple 420 in Hollywood. Officers seized nine pounds of marijuana along with scales, surveillance cameras, pay-owe sheets, bongs, pipes, Ziploc baggies, and packaging materials.

The narcotics officer who led the raid testified that she had visited the facility twice in the previous three months in an undercover capacity. She testified thatdefendant introduced himself as the owner of Temple 420, and said that it was a church in which members could buy marijuana.

Defendant said he planned to sell marijuana from vending machines. The front lobby had a cash register, a display of water bongs and pipes, and drug paraphernalia and related clothing, the officer said, adding that on her second visit, she filled out a membership application and purchased 3.5 grams of marijuana for $60.

Defendant testified that he was an ordained Universal Life Church minister who started Temple 420 as an online ministry. He said he was a pro-marijuana activist and that he was trying to bring religion to the pot movement because there is a million people trying to legalize marijuana and a lot of them dont have God in their lives.

The defense sought to present evidence concerning the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. The statute prohibits enforcement of laws that burden the practice of religion in the absence of a compelling governmental interest, but a 1997 U.S. Supreme Court decision held the act unconstitutional to the extent it bars enforcement of state laws.

Strobel barred the defense from referring to RFRA, saying it does not provide a defense in this case and that the minimal probative value that the evidence might have was outweighed by the possibility of misleading the jury.

The court of appeal held thatthe trial judge did not abuse her discretion in excluding the RFRA evidence, as well as evidence referring to the First Amendment. The justice noted that the temples standard membership agreement, which allegedly referred to RFRA, was not introduced in evidence, and that the defense was allowed to question the lead officer about the content, although the judge said it would be too confusing to allow questioning of the officer about whether she researched the information on the form.

The justice went on to reject the claim that the state Constitution protects the right to sell marijuana for religious purposes.

The Courtdistinguished cases that permit the use of controlled substances as part of sacramental rites. None of those cases, which dealt with the use of hallucinogenic drugs during religious ceremonies, involve sale of drugs, the justice said.

Appellant presented no evidence that he was unable to practice his religious beliefs without selling marijuana or that he had to use marijuana to perform religious services, the jurist wrote. Unlike the defendants in the cited cases, he added, the ceremonial use of marijuana is not the sine qua non of appellants faith and religious beliefs.

Tagged as: drug crimes defense

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

Marijuana Laws: Federal and California Conflict

Posted on: July 29, 2008 at 12:07 p.m.

It is a widely known fact that the conflict between drug laws in California has created a bit of a headache from time to time on certain L.A. criminal defense matters. The challenge is that there is more than one conflict, one between the state of California and the federal government, another between different parts of California. The law in California allows for medical marijuana; however a recent matter in Los Angeles federal court has heightened the conflict.

A man, Charlie Lynch is charged with distributing over $2 million dollars worth of Marijuana since 2006, some of which to teenagers not yet old enough to drink alcohol. Lynch's defense attorneys would like to present evidence that their client was dispensing doctor-prescribed medical marijuana to sick people in accordance with state law and with the blessing of elected officials in Morro Bay. However, the U.S. Supreme Court has concluded that federal drug laws trump those of the state and that the reasons why the drug is distributed are irrelevant. Another wrinkle is that a Federal Drug Administration official may have given the okay for Lynch to distribute Marijuana.

This particular case is being tried by a jury, and this has created some confusion as to the marijuana laws and how they should be approached. While being quested, one juror, an engineer, said he had trouble reconciling how it could be legal to sell marijuana under state law and prohibited by federal law.

"It just doesn't make sense to me," he said. The man was excused from the panel.

Other potential jurors were dismissed after revealing strong feelings on the issue.

"I don't think I'd be a fair juror because I tend to side with the state law," said a young woman from Torrance who told lawyers she had one friend with chronic back pain and another with stomach cancer who had used the drug medicinally.

This lack of clarity has led, and will most likely continue to lead, to quite different decisions in different courts and different locations in California. This means that there will be a race to charge a person, and/or try them, in specific courts in the state. Having an experienced and knowledgeable criminal attorney in marijuana defense and other drug matters may make all the difference.

Tagged as: drug crimes defense

Illegal Narcotics and the U.S./Mexico Border

Posted on: June 10, 2008 at 10:54 a.m.

Southern California has a number of factors affecting it which causes the laws throughout the state to often look strange to the rest of the nation. One such factor is the border that California shares with Mexico. Prosecuting drug laws can be difficult due to the challenges of having to extradite criminals across both sides of the border, and the differing drug laws in each nation. Other states bordering Mexico include Texas, Arizona and New Mexico.

Recently, a drunk driver plowed into a bicycle race near the Mexican border in Texas. Part of the challenge in attempting to prosecute is the citizenship of the individuals injured as well as the individual accused. Drug policies can be even more difficult, as witnesses may not have citizenship in the country they witnessed the crime, making it difficult for law enforcement agencies to get them to testify.

The popular television bounty hunter Dwayne "The Dog" Chapman had his challenges with this issue as he arrested an American citizen while he was in Mexico, which violates Mexican law. Smuggling drugs across the border is a federal offense, and could bring charges on both sides of the border.

If you would like to talk to an experienced attorney regarding drug related charges, or any other criminal matter, please contact the attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP.

Tagged as: california criminal laws, drug crimes defense, high profile defense

LAPD will continue enforcing federal drug laws despite California Medical Marijuana Initiative

Posted on: August 16, 2007 at 9:43 a.m.

Members of the L.A. City Council have expressed dissatisfaction with the LAPD about its participation in federal drug raids, in cases where the target dispensary is in compliance with California Medicinal Marijuana laws. Ther Los Angeles Police Department has reinterated that it will continue to participate in federal raids on local medical marijuana dispensaries against the wishes of some members of the City Council.

Criminal Defense Lawyers throughout Los Angeles and California are familiar with a continuing legal conflict between federal and state drug laws, which, has created a stalemate. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that as federal laws "preempt" (or trump) state laws, the federal drug laws control.

Accordingly officials with the Los Angeles Police Department contend that it's their job to help enforce the federal law. On the other hand, the L.A. Council members argue that police raids, at best, send a mixed message about the city's support for the state law passed in 1996 to permit the use of marijuana for prescribed medical purposes.

The L.A. City Council last month placed a yearlong moratorium on permitting new dispensaries in the city while lawyers draw up an ordinance to regulate them. At the time, several members of the council reiterated their support for the state law that allows medical marijuana dispensaries to exist.

On the same day the council passed the moratorium, the DEA raided 10 dispensaries in Los Angeles, with LAPD officers providing logistical support. DEA officials said the timing of the raids was a coincidence and that they were merely enforcing federal law, which continues to prohibit any sale of marijuana.

LAPD said that its view is that some of the city's more than 200 dispensaries are a nuisance to their communities and that some are violating the state law that mandates they not profit on their sales.
However, LAPD official Doan said he did not know why the DEA targeted the dispensaries that it did last month, nor did the LAPD apparently ask before agreeing to help with the raids. "The bottom line is anyone distributing marijuana is in violation of federal law," Pullen said.

Councilwoman Janice Hahn said the LAPD didn't always follow the federal lead. Over the years, the LAPD has ignored federal immigration laws and chosen not to ask people about their immigration status as a way to build a better relationship with the community, she said.

Tagged as: drug crimes defense

Medicinal Marijuana: Recent DEA Letters are in direct breach of California Medicinal Marijuana Laws

Posted on: July 27, 2007 at 4:06 p.m.

The USA TODAY recently reported that the U.S. Justice Department is unleashing a potent new weapon in its battle against California's hundreds of medical pot clinics, threatening landlords with arrest and property seizures for renting to tenants who flout federal drug laws.

Intensifying its crackdown on pot sales that are legal under California law but illegal under U.S. law, agents of the Drug Enforcement Agency executed search warrants Wednesday in raids on 10 marijuana dispensaries across Los Angeles. As agents were moving in, Los Angeles' City Council voted 11-0 to tentatively approve a one-year moratorium on more medical marijuana stores, which have exploded in number in the past two years. Federal officials estimate there are 400 storefront and office operations selling medical marijuana in Los Angeles and L.A. County, up from 20 two years ago and more than double the number at the start of the year, DEA Special Agent Sarah Pullen says. Law enforcement officials contend the sales have become a source for recreational pot users.

The most serious threat to California's voter-approved pot sales came in a letter last week from the DEA to 150 property owners or managers informing them that a tenant is operating a marijuana dispensary on the property in violation of federal law. The letter warns that California's pot law, approved as Proposition 215 a decade ago, "is not a defense to this crime or to the seizure of the property." Landlords, the DEA warned, could lose their buildings and land and face felonies with 20-year prison sentences.

"It scared the hell out of my client," said Barry Parker, attorney for property owner Kash Holdings LLC. It rents space to Karma Collective. As a result of the DEA notice, Parker said Karma Collective had agreed to close and vacate its space within a month. He predicted many other landlords would evict. "It's just too risky a situation for a landlord to take on, at the same time potentially costly," he said.

Criminal Law Blog's lawyer, firm parter David Kestenbaum, is the criminal attorney for Karma Collective. He was interviewed by the USA Today. He explained that that landlords who get such a letter have no choice but to evict pot-selling tenants: "It will effectively, in my opinion, shut down the clinics that are open and force patients

Tagged as: drug crimes defense

California's Medicinal Marijuana Law is rejected by the DEA

Posted on: July 17, 2007 at 10:13 a.m.

The Los Angeles Times reported today that the DEA has sent out letters to 150 Los Angeles landlords that they risk arrest and the loss of their properties if they continue renting to cannabis dispensaries.

The two-page letter sent last week by Timothy J. Landrum, DEA special agent in charge of the Los Angeles office, has whipped up worries among landlords and dispensary operators in a region that has seen a proliferation of the businesses in the last two years.

"I'm devastated," said Lisa Sawoya, who left her lucrative job selling high-tech hospital equipment to open a dispensary 18 months ago in Hollywood. "My landlord believes in cannabis as medicine. But they're taking the letter very seriously. So I'll be closing my doors at the end of this month."

Sarah Pullen, a DEA spokeswoman in Los Angeles, said the purpose of the letters was to "educate" property owners at risk because they were housing marijuana dispensaries.

"By renting their property to individuals violating fed drug laws, they are in and of themselves violating federal law," Pullen said. "These are definitely meant to serve as a notice. What might happen as to the continuing investigations, we'll just have to see."

The DEA move has focused entirely on Los Angeles. Activists suspect that the logistics and timing

Tagged as: drug crimes defense, federal law and defense

Drug Addiction and Criminality: Alternative Sentencing Options

Posted on: June 28, 2007 at 6:20 a.m.

The obvious and sad reality is that addiction often leads to criminal behavior including theft, drug sales, DUI, and other more serious violations. There are numerous drug programs in Southern California, in-patient and out-patient, available to treat drug and alcohol addiction. Often the Criminal Law Blog has used these programs as an alternative to jail or prison for clients in custody, as part of the Alternative Sentecing scheme available under California law which includes Deferred Entry of Judgement, Proposition 36, and Drug Diversion. While keeping clients out of jail is the Law Blog's main objective, we are also concerned about recidivism -- to prevent clients from relapsing and being rearrested. Accordingly, we counsel clients to take their rehabilitation seriously, and to be committed to change with a sponsor, a dedication to the 12-step lifestyle, and seeing a therapist on a regular basis. Finally, the following website provides a good introduction to addiction and treatment information http://web4health.info/

Tagged as: drug addiction and treatment, drug crimes defense, probation and sentencing laws

What is forensic evidence and how is it used in court?

Posted on: June 22, 2007 at 2:18 p.m.

Typically forensic evidence refers to physical evidence such as fingerprints, DNA, blood spatter, gun shot residue, and ballistics. This physical evidence assists to establish what happened during an alleged criminal act. Some say science is an objective witness, with no reason to lie, no reason to distort the truth, and no biases. Forensic evidence is presented in court through two types of expert witnesses (1) those who gather the evidence and (2)those who interpret what the evidence mean in terms of related scientific principles. For example, criminalists collect blood smears from the crime scene. DNA experts then test the blood in the lab, against available samples provided by a suspect. Criminal lawyers then subpoena the DNA experts to court to establish if someone's genetic materials is or is not present at a crime scene. While pure science does not distort, expert witnesses infuse their subjective opinions into the trial. Their motives are clearly relevant as they are typically financially compensated by the side that calls him or her to the witness stand. Say the Prosecutor calls a government DNA expert at trial to explain that Defendant's DNA was located at scene -- thus establishing that he may be responsible for the crime. In response, the defense lawyers will call its own DNA experts to disagree with these results, or to question the testing methodology. The high-profile Spector trial has experts from the prosecution and the defense battling over how established scientific principles apply to their divergent opinions.

Tagged as: drug crimes defense, faq, jury trial defense

Is there a "Medical" Marijuana Defense in California?

Posted on: May 30, 2007 at 1:01 p.m.

Proposition 215 was passed by the voters in California in 1996, commonly referred to as the Compassionate Use Act. That was followed 8 years later by Senate Bill 420, enacted in 2004. These two propositions have been codified in the California Penal Code section 11362.775 et seq. The federal government does not recognize this law, and thus sales of marijuana under the federal system are criminalized.

Unfortunately, the Los Angeles Police Department has decided not to enforce the laws of California, but to act as "de facto" DEA agents. It is this conflict between state and federal laws that leads to abuses of power by the local police.

In a recent case handled by the firm, a client had substantial monies and several ounces of marijuana ordered returned to him by the Court, after the D.A. dismissed the case in the middle of a preliminary hearing. The case had substantial problems of proof, as we had the recommending medical doctor ready to testify and the LAPD "expert on drug sales" was not familiar with the provisions of Medical Marijuana laws, packaging, or business operations. In sum, cross-examination of the police officers on the case demonstrated they knew very little about the law.

Tagged as: drug addiction and treatment, drug crimes defense, faq

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