How To Defend Against Codeine Charges
Under California drug laws, possessing the painkiller codeine without a valid prescription is a crime. This includes either for personal use or sale, selling codeine or transporting it for sale, being under the influence of codeine without a prescription, or driving under the influence of codeine.
Further, depending on the circumstances of your arrest, prosecutors could file additional criminal charges to your codeine possession charge.
If you are convicted of a codeine offense, you often face severe penalties, but simple possession of codeine and driving under the influence usually are misdemeanor crimes.
If you are convicted of possessing codeine for sale or transporting codeine for sale, you will be charged with a felony offense.
Many people who start abusing codeine begin by using the drug for legal and medical purposes, but they soon become addicted to its vital pain-killing function and continue to use it for abusive purposes.
Other people use codeine for pleasure because they enjoy the side effects, such as the feeling of euphoria, but codeine is a controlled substance.
A “controlled substance” is a drug or chemical the government places restrictions upon regarding its manufacture, possession, or use. In this article by our California criminal defense attorneys, we will examine these laws in greater detail below.
What California Drugs Laws Are Related to Codeine?
The following codes relate to controlled substances under California law:
- Health and Safety Code 11350 HS makes it illegal to possess specific controlled substances without a legitimate prescription;
- Health and Safety Code 11351 HS makes it illegal to have possession of codeine with the intent to sell;
- Health and Safety Code 11352 HS makes it a felony to sell or transport a controlled substance, such as codeine.
- Health and Safety Code 11370.1 HS makes it a crime to possess a controlled substance while armed.
- Health and Safety Code 11550 HS makes it a crime for someone to be intoxicated by a controlled substance for which they have no prescription;
- Vehicle Code 23152(f) VC prohibits driving intoxicated by controlled substances, such as codeine.
Possession of a Controlled Substance - HS 11350
Per Health and Safety Code 11350(a) HS, it is a misdemeanor offense for someone to possess a controlled substance for which they do not have a legitimate prescription. One example is codeine.
Codeine is a narcotic used to help people suffering from pain related to a cough or cold. It is a highly addictive opioid. Codeine is a controlled substance and opiate, also known as a narcotic derived from the opium poppy plant, that can dull the senses and has a sedative effect.
However, high doses of codeine often result in slurred speech, poor judgment, and slow reflexes. Codeine is primarily used as a pain killer and one of the prescribed drugs in the world. In the United States, the “controlled substances act” regulates the manufacturing and possession of controlled substances.
For a person to be convicted for possessing codeine or another controlled substance illegally, the following five elements would have to be proven to charge them with possession:
- They possessed a controlled substance;
- They knew the substance in question qualified as a controlled substance;
- They did not have a prescription for it;
- They knew of its presence;
- They were aware of the amount they had in their possession;
What type of defenses exists?
Listed below are some of the most common legal defenses if someone has been charged with possession.
- The individual did not have a drug in their possession;
- They had a valid prescription for the substance in question;
- An unlawful search and seizure occurred.
What are the penalties for codeine possession?
Most often, basic drug possession charges are prosecuted as misdemeanors. In the event of a conviction, a possession charge is punishable by a year of county jail time and a fine of up to $1,000.
Convictions can also have negative consequences for a person regarding immigration status. A conviction can also affect whether a person can legally purchase a gun.
Intoxicated by a Controlled Substance - Health and Safety Code 11550 HS
If a controlled substance affects an individual's nervous system, brain function, mental state, muscle movement, or physical abilities, they are considered “under the influence.”
Several defenses are available when a person is facing charges of being under the influence. Some of the most common are:
- The drug in question was prescribed and given to the defendant by a licensed medical or health care professional for legitimate purposes;
- The individual was not under the influence, as indicated by a drug test;
- The defendant was under the influence through no fault of their own.
Convictions for violating HS Code 11550 HS are misdemeanors. Driving under the influence is punishable by 180 days of county jail time and can be up to one year. Sometimes, a person can be given summary probation instead of jail time.
Driving Intoxicated by Drugs - VC 23152(f)
The state of California prohibits the act of driving intoxicated by drugs by way of Vehicle Code 23152(f) VC.
Many types of drugs can hinder someone's ability to drive, so it does not matter whether the drug in question is illegal or obtained by a prescription. The issue is that the drug can affect a person's motor skills and make it dangerous for themselves and others on the road around them.
Defenses for someone charged with driving intoxicated by drugs
Several defenses may be available to defend a charge of driving intoxicated by drugs. Common defenses for this criminal charge include:
- The was no reasonable suspicion for having made the driver stop or probable cause for the arrest;
- The driver was not impaired when arrested;
- Plausible reasons for having exhibited impaired driving;
- Even though drugs were detected in the driver's system by a blood test, the drugs were ingested just before getting behind the wheel and could not affect the individual's ability to drive.
Penalties for driving under the influence
Most convictions for driving intoxicated by drugs are misdemeanors. If convicted, driving intoxicated by a controlled substance is punishable by a year of county jail time. In some situations, a person can be required to attend drug counseling and rehabilitation instead of jail time.
Contact Eisner Gorin LLP for Help with Codeine Charges
If you or a family member has been charged with any codeine offense, contact our office to review the case. Depending on the details, there are several common strategies to challenge the charges, such as:
- Valid prescription.
- Mistaken identity,
- False allegations,
- Lack of knowledge,
- Illegal search and seizure.
To be convicted on a codeine charge, the prosecutor has to be able to prove all the elements of the crime beyond any reasonable doubt.
Perhaps we can argue you were not aware of the illegal codeine found in your vehicle. Maybe you are the victim of police entrapment, which means they persuaded you to commit a crime you would have otherwise not committed.
Perhaps we can argue an illegal search and seizure conducted by police violates California's search and seizure laws. Police can violate these laws if they have searched you without a valid search warrant or they lacked probable cause that criminal activity occurred.
We could file a motion to suppress evidence if there was an illegal search or seizure. If the court grants our motion, the evidence will be excluded, and the prosecutor will likely dismiss the case.
Perhaps we can argue that you were unjustly accused, wrongfully arrested, or there is insufficient evidence to make a case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Perhaps we can negotiate with the District Attorney for reduced charges or case dismissal, or convince them not to file formal criminal charges in the first place, called a “DA reject.” Eisner Gorin LLP is based in Los Angeles County. Contact us for an initial case review at (877) 781-1570 or use the contact form.