Review of How To Defend Against California Cocaine Charges
Clearly, it's a crime to possess, sell, or manufacture cocaine in California, which is also commonly known as “crack” and “coke.” Cocaine is a Schedule II narcotic drug that is regulated by the Controlled Substances Act.
California Health and Safety Code 11350 is the statute used by prosecutors for charging someone with simple possession of cocaine.
Health and Safety Code 11351 is used to prosecute people accused of possession of cocaine with intent to sell, known as drug sales.
Health and Safety Code 11352 is used to prosecute people accused of the more serious crime of transporting or selling cocaine.
HS 11350 can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony drug crime depending on different factors.
If convicted of cocaine possession, you might be eligible for a drug diversion program, such as:
- Proposition 36,
- Deferred entry of judgement – Penal Code 1000 PC,
- California drug court.
Drug diversion programs focus on rehabilitation rather than jail time and they offer a defendant an opportunity to get their charges dismissed.
To give readers a better understanding of California cocaine charges, our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers are providing an overview below.
Prosecution of Different Types of Drug Crimes
State and federal authorities in California frequently prosecute many different types of drug crimes, such as:
- drug trafficking,
- drug sales,
- manufacturing drugs,
- transporting drugs,
- marijuana sales,
- possession of paraphernalia,
- money laundering,
- prescription fraud,
- counterfeiting prescriptions, and
- operating a drug house.
The nature of the drug is always essential to the crime. Obviously, some pharmaceuticals are legal, while other drugs are not.
Buying, transporting, possessing, using, and sharing marijuana, amphetamines, LSD, heroin, and other drugs is a crime.
The class of drug, whether legal or illegal, can determine whether the drug-related activity is a crime at all or the seriousness of the crime.
Controlled Substances Act
State criminal laws like California's law against certain drug manufacturing typically refer to five federal Controlled Substances Act schedules to determine what drugs are illegal.
These federal schedules rank drugs according to their risk of abuse and their value for medical treatment.
Generally, among the five federal Schedules I, II, III, IV, and V, the lower the schedule number, the worse the drug.
Schedule I drugs, for instance, have no medical use at all but a high potential for abuse.
California's law against certain drug manufacturing, Health and Safety Code 11379.6, makes it illegal to manufacture federal Schedule II, III, IV, and V opiates, stimulants, and narcotics.
California Laws on Cocaine Use and Sales
Cocaine is a popular illegal drug in California, as elsewhere. California authorities frequently charge cocaine-drug crimes.
Federal regulation and California law place cocaine on Schedule II for its:
- high abuse potential,
- severely restricted medical use, and
- severe psychological and physical dependence its use produces.
Cocaine base is an even worse Schedule I drug. Cocaine base has a highly technical legal definition: a cocaine form not neutralized by an acid.
Cocaine base, though, more commonly refers to its crack form. Crack cocaine is an especially debilitating illegal drug.
Its cooked or cracked form allows its more-effective smoking uptake than non-base forms while also making the drug more addictive. Cocaine is, in every respect, a bad drug.
Congress and state legislatures recognize the social impact of cocaine use and addiction. California has many statutes making use of cocaine a crime, such as:
- Vehicle Code 23152(f) VC – driving under the influence of drugs,
- Health and Safety Code 11350 HS – possession for personal use,
- Health and Safety Code 11351 HS – possession for sales, and
- Health and Safety Code 11351 HS - transporting or selling.
The penalties vary depending on other circumstances, but generally range from a misdemeanor at the low end to nine years of imprisonment at the high end, with the possibility of more years on an enhanced sentence.
Federal Cocaine Charges – 21 U.S.C. 841
What makes cocaine an especially bad drug with which to be charged is the enhanced penalties around cocaine base.
A little cocaine base can produce a very large sentence, a minimum of ten years of imprisonment and a maximum of life, under a commonly used federal statute 21 U.S.C. 841.
A federal Sentencing Commission primer on drug sentencing explains that the enhancements were for a time so severe that the federal Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 increased the tiny amount of cocaine base one must possess for the enhanced penalties.
This was to dramatically reduce the number of enhanced convictions and charges. But even after 2010 Act, the severe penalties remain.
How Can I Fight Cocaine Evidence and Charges?
In spite of the criminal charges related to cocaine you might be facing, there are a wide range of potential strategies available to our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers.
Early intervention into your case by our law firm can make an enormous difference in the outcome of a California cocaine charge.
We are very familiar with the details of federal and state schedules, procedures, and criminal laws.
We have a track record of success in all types of cocaine related charges throughout all Los Angeles criminal courthouses.
We know how to develop an effective defense around the particulars of cocaine chemistry.
This includes manufacturing, abuse, and tendencies of the authorities who investigate, charge, and sentence cocaine crime.
Some of the most common defenses against cocaine and other drug-related crimes include:
- illegal search requiring suppression of evidence;
- illegal seizure requiring suppression of confession;
- entrapment of innocent suspect with drug offers;
- police misconduct fabricating or altering evidence;
- gaps in custody and chain of evidence;
- police and prosecutor misconduct concealing exonerating evidence;
- unfair lineup procedure requiring suppression of eyewitness identification;
- irregularities testing and determining drug type or form;
- drug type or form does not qualify for federal schedules;
- drug chemistry does not qualify for sentence enhancement;
- drug amount does not qualify for sentence enhancement.
Criminal Defense for California Cocaine Charges
If you are facing any type of cocaine charges in California, our top-rated Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys have the skill and experience to obtain the best possible outcome.
As stated above, some cocaine charges also qualify for diversion under California Penal Code 1000 PC, Proposition 36, or a California drug court.
Through prefiling intervention, we might be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to avoid the formal filing of criminal charges before court.
Eisner Gorin LLP is a top-ranked criminal defense law firm representing people throughout Southern California, including LA County, Orange County, Ventura County, Hollywood, Torrance, Pasadena, Riverside, and San Bernardino.
We are located at 1999 Avenue of the Stars, 11th Fl., Los Angeles, CA 90067.
Our main office is in the San Fernando Valley next to the Van Nuys Court at 14401 Sylvan St #112 Van Nuys, CA 91401.
Contact our office for an initial consultation at (877) 781-1570.