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Defending Ecstasy Charges in California

Review of How to Defend Against California Ecstasy Drug Charges

Under California law, it's a crime to possess, sell, transport, manufacture, or be under the influence of ecstasy, which is commonly known as a “molly.”

There are several different California statutes covering ecstasy offenses and the exact charges and penalties will depend on a wide range of factors.

Defending Ecstasy Charges in California
There are several California statutes covering ecstasy drug charges, such as simple possession and sales.

California Health and Safety Code 11377 covers simple possession of ecstasy and typically charged as a misdemeanor offense.

Health and Safety Code 11378 covers the more serious crime of possession of ecstasy with intent to sell which is a felony crime.

Health and Safety Code 11379 covers transporting or selling ecstasy and is charged as a felony crime and carries up to nine years in a California state prison.

California Vehicle Code 23152(f) covers driving under the influence of ecstasy and will normally be charged as a misdemeanor offense.

To give readers a better understanding of this common drug crime, our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers are providing a detailed overview below.

What Is Ecstasy?

The popular nightclub and rave dance-party drug known as ecstasy or molly, shorthand for molecular, is actually 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, what drug-crime professionals known by its acronym MDMA.

Ecstasy gained popularity for its peculiar combination of effects on some users.

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, those effects, like the stimulants and hallucinogens to which it is chemically similar, can include increased energy, pleasure, emotional warmth, distorted time and sense, and emotional closeness, trust, empathy, and elevated mood linked with sexual arousal.

Side effects of ecstasy 

Ecstasy, though, is no magic pill but instead a dangerous narcotic, especially in the way that its distributors mix and sell it with cocaine, bath salts, cough medicine, and other chemicals, and users combine it with marijuana and alcohol. Ecstasy has its own harmful side effects, including:

  • nausea,
  • muscle cramps,
  • blurred vision,
  • chills,
  • sweating,
  • aggression,
  • depression, and
  • anxiety.

When combined with other known or unknown chemicals and substances, it can be especially harmful and deadly.

Laws Regulating Ecstasy

Federal and state drug laws classify ecstasy with other illegal drugs like cocaine and methamphetamines.

Laws Regulating Ecstasy
Federal drug laws classify ecstasy along with other illegal drugs like cocaine and methamphetamines.

State criminal laws typically classify illegal drugs according to five federal Controlled Substance Act schedules.

An illegal drug's Schedule level I, II, III, IV, or V depends on its addictive quality, value for medical treatment, and safety when used or abused.

The lower the schedule number, like Schedules I or II, the worse the drug. Schedule I drugs have:

  • no accepted medical use at all, but;
  • a high potential for abuse.

Schedule II drugs are highly addictive, seldom used for medical treatment, and generally unsafe.

Federal and California laws make ecstasy, or MDMA, a Schedule II drug, the second-worst classification, along with cocaine, methamphetamines, PCP, and other dangerous drugs.

Different Types of Ecstasy Related Charges

Because ecstasy is a federal Schedule II narcotic, California law makes ecstasy illegal for a wide range of drug-related activities. It is not simply that using ecstasy is illegal.

Different Types of California Ecstasy Related Charges
Ecstasy is illegal is a wide variety of drug related activity, such as possession with intent to sell.

Ecstasy can support any of these other, more serious charges:

  • drug trafficking;
  • drug possession;
  • drug possession for sales;
  • manufacturing drugs;
  • transporting drugs;
  • possession of drug paraphernalia;
  • money laundering; and
  • operating a drug house;
  • driving under the influence of drugs;
  • under the influence.

Penalties for California Ecstasy Crimes

The penalties for ecstasy-related convictions vary depending on other circumstances. Unless other incriminating circumstances exist:

  • possessing smaller amounts of ecstasy for personal consumption is a misdemeanor under California Health and Safety Code 11377(a) HS, punishable by no more than a year in jail and up to a $1,000 fine;
  • suffering an ecstasy-possession conviction after already having had certain prior convictions can raise a HS 11377(a) HS conviction from a misdemeanor to a felony punishable by 16 months, two years, or even three years of imprisonment;
  • possession of ecstasy for sale is defined under Health and Safety Code 11378 HS and a felony punishable by 16 months, 2 or 3 years in a California state prison, and a fine up to $10,000;
  • sale or transportation of ecstasy under Health and Safety Code 11379 HS and a felony punishable by 2 to 9 years in prison, and a fine up to $10,000;
  • driving under the influence of ecstasy under Vehicle Code 23152(f) VC is a misdemeanor punishable by 3 to 5 years' probation, and a driver's license suspension.

Possessing large amounts of ecstasy can increase the felony conviction to a punishment of as much as fifteen years of imprisonment. Sentence enhancements can make ecstasy crimes very serious matters.

California Drug Diversion

As is true for other Schedule II drugs, though, for lesser ecstasy offenses, diversion from criminal court to drug court may be possible, especially for first-time offenders on only a possession charge.

Ecstasy charges may also qualify for diversion under:

  • California Penal Code 1000 PC deferred entry of judgment;
  • Proposition 36, or
  • California drug court.

Our attorneys know the offenses that qualify for diversion, how to timely apply for, and how to help clients document their successful completion of diversion for dismissal of the drug charge.

How Can I Fight California Ecstasy Charges?

As with other serious drug-crime charges, our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers can make the difference in the outcome of an ecstasy charge.

How Can I Fight California Ecstasy Charges?
If charged with an ecstasy related drug crime, our defense lawyers can use different strategies to fight the case.

The key to a successful defense in some cases is to defeat the charge outright. We might be able to make a reasonable lack of knowledge argument.

In other cases, the key to a successful outcome is to avoid or defeat felony enhancements, keeping the ecstasy offense to at most a misdemeanor. Some common defenses for ecstasy drug charges include:

  • illegal search or illegal arrest,
  • confession or other evidence from which the court will suppress,
  • police entrapment,
  • police or lab misconduct,
  • prosecutor misconduct,
  • fabricating or altering evidence,
  • gaps in the chain of evidence.

We might also be able to make an argument there were irregularities in testing and determining the drug type or form.

Criminal Defense for California Ecstasy Charges

If you are facing any type of misdemeanor or felony ecstasy related charges, our experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers have a track record of success.

Facing an ecstasy charge can be just as serious as facing cocaine, meth, or other drug charges.

Criminal Defense for California Ecstasy Charges
Call our law firm to determine whether you are eligible for drug diversion.

We can determine whether you are eligible for a drug diversion program which will give you a chance at drug treatment rather than jail time, and also an opportunity to get your charges dismissed.

We might be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to avoid the formal filing of charges before court through a process known as prefiling intervention.

Eisner Gorin LLP is a top-ranked criminal defense law firm that represents people in all Southern California courts, including LA County, Orange County, Ventura County, Hollywood, Alhambra, 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 firm for a consultation at (877) 781-1570. 

We speak English, Russian, Armenian, and Spanish.

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