The state of California uses several charges to prosecute drug crimes. You may be familiar with terms like possession, sale, and intent to distribute. How do these charges differ from one another?
In many cases, these charges vary in severity based on whether someone has drugs for personal use or whether they plan to sell illicit substances. Possession for sale or drug trafficking charges are often more serious than “basic” possession accusations.
Basic Drug Possession Charges in California
Drug possession is a basic charge in Los Angeles. Individuals may face this charge if they are found with small amounts of illicit substances, such as:
Individuals who only have enough of an illicit substance for “personal” use will likely face drug possession charges under Health and Safety Code §11350. Generally, drug possession charges are treated as misdemeanors in California.
Additionally, the court sometimes offers a “drug diversion” program to individuals charged with drug possession. This program allows an individual to avoid a conviction if they attend and complete a treatment program for drug use.
Possession of Marijuana
California recently decriminalized many uses of marijuana. However, marijuana is still considered a controlled substance. Individuals can face charges if they possess “too much” marijuana concentrate, leaves, or plants.
Additionally, it is illegal to sell marijuana to someone else as a private citizen. You can find out more about the laws regarding marijuana usage with a drug crime lawyer in Los Angeles.
Possession for Sale Charges in Los Angeles
Possession for sale is considered more serious than “personal” drug possession charges in California. Possession for sale is handled under Health and Safety Code §11351 here in Los Angeles. This charge applies if the police believe an individual was trying to sell an illicit substance to someone else.
Note that the court can use possession for sale charges even if the police never saw a drug sale occur. This charge is often used by prosecutors if someone:
- Had a “large” amount of an illicit substance
- Was carrying small baggies of drugs
- Had the tools associated with drug processing
Unlike drug possession, possession for sale is considered a felony-level offense in California. Sometimes, the court uses more specific charges like “possession of meth” or “possession of Vicodin,” however, these charges lead to the same general results.
A possession for sale conviction can result in fines and prison time. The exact amount of prison time will depend upon the kind of drug an individual tried to sell. Selling large amounts of cocaine or heroin can even lead to up to 25 years in prison.
Drug Trafficking Allegations in Los Angeles
Finally, the court system will prosecute individuals for drug trafficking, or intent to distribute. Drug trafficking charges are very similar to possession for sale allegations. However, drug trafficking is more serious and is usually handled by the federal court system.
Drug trafficking charges apply if someone transports, sells, or distributes large amounts of illicit substances, usually over state lines. Moving illicit substances over state lines will automatically make the offense a federal crime.
The federal court system deals with drug crime charges more seriously than the state court system. A first offense for drug trafficking can end up resulting in:
- Fines of up to $2 million
- Prison time of up to 40 years
A second drug trafficking conviction could result in life in prison and fines of up to $4 million. These charges are often used for illicit substances such as LSD, cocaine, heroin, and even marijuana. Individuals in possession of even a few grams of illegal drugs can face drug trafficking charges.
A criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles can handle both state and federal drug crime charges. This can help you avoid fines, prison time, and other penalties. Contact a legal team immediately if you are charged with any drug crime.
Ask a Lawyer About Different Drug Crime Charges in Los Angeles
There are several differences between possession, possession for sale, and intent to distribute charges in Los Angeles. Mainly, these charges differ depending upon whether or not someone planned to sell drugs to someone else. You can learn more about these accusations with the Simmrin Law Group’s drug crime lawyers in Los Angeles.
Our team can start focusing on your needs now with a free consultation. Contact us by calling us at (310) 997-4688 or completing our online contact form.