Vicodin is a legitimate painkiller used by people with all kinds of pain and medical conditions. Unfortunately, it is also a controlled substance that the government considers dangerous. If you have been arrested for possessing Vicodin without a prescription, you can face up to a year in jail or worse. Don’t take any chances. You need to talk to a Los Angeles Vicodin lawyer.
The Simmrin Law Group knows how to help you. We do not agree with California’s draconian drug laws and we have dedicated ourselves to standing up for those who have been accused. We will listen to your story, take your side and give you the best legal defense possible—potentially avoiding jail time or even winning your case. Let us give you a free consultation. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.
What is Vicodin?
Technically Vicodin is just a brand name for a painkiller known as hydrocodone, which is sold under other names as well. Hydrocodone is similar in its effects and legal classification to other common painkillers such as oxycodone (brand name Oxycontin), codeine and others. All of these drugs are legitimate medications, but they are treated the same under the law as hard drugs like cocaine. This is because hydrocodone and its cousins are considered addictive with a high potential for abuse.
In its pure form, hydrocodone is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance by the federal government. Like all controlled substances, it is illegal to possess it without a valid reason (such as a prescription, or being licensed to sell it).
Specifically, it is illegal to:
Sell it or possess it with the intent to sell
We will cover each of these laws below.
I was arrested for possessing Vicodin. What should I do?
You need to stay calm and say absolutely nothing to the police. If you have already spoken with them, stop. The only thing you should say is that you want to speak to a lawyer. Do not let the police, or the prosecutor, threaten you or make “promises” if you agree to help. Whatever deal they are offering, it will still be there after you’ve gotten good legal counsel.
Technically, possession of hydrocodone is not its own criminal offense. Instead, you will be charged under HS 11350, the general drug possession law. There are many ways to fight this charge. For example, the prosecutor may not be able to prove that you knew the drugs were there, or that they belonged to you. These are valid defenses and can be effective in the hands of a good lawyer.
What if I was accused of selling Vicodin?
Selling a controlled substance (without a license to do so) is a more serious charge than simply possessing it. If you are accused of this offense, you will be charged under a different statute, HS 11351. This is also known as California’s drug trafficking law—even if you only had a small amount of the substance.
There are several ways you can be convicted of this charge:
You possessed a large amount of hydrocodone (more than one person would reasonably use)
You were caught selling it (regardless of the amount)
There are indications of an “intent to sell,” such as splitting the Vicodin up into smaller packages
What is “transporting” Vicodin?
Transporting controlled substances is also a separate offense (HS 11352) and can be more serious than simply possessing them.
In theory, this law exists to prevent criminal organizations from transporting large amount of drugs. Unfortunately, it criminalizes transporting any amount of a controlled substance—including hydrocodone/Vicodin—even if the distance is very small. You can be convicted for:
Driving with any amount of Vicodin in your vehicle, even just a few blocks
“Transporting” Vicodin in your pocket, backpack, etc. while walking or bicycling
Otherwise moving Vicodin from any place to any other place
Simply being the driver in a car where someone else has Vicodin on them illegally (if you knew they had it)
And, “transporting” has been expanded to include other things as well—such as giving Vicodin away freely to another person.
As with the other laws relating to Vicodin, there are defenses against a “transporting” charge and it is possible to beat it.
What defenses can I use against Vicodin/hydrocodone charges?
It depends on the specific circumstances of your case. However, there are several defenses that can be very strong in these cases:
Not yours. Even if the drug was found in your house or car, it may not have been yours. You may not have even known it was there. This is a valid defense.
Ignorance. It is not illegal to possess or transport Vicodin if you don’t know that it’s a controlled substance. For example, if a friend asked you to hang onto it for them, and you didn’t realize it was an illegal drug, you did not actually violate the law.
No intent. It is possible for a good lawyer to establish that you did not intend to transport the hydrocodone, or did not intend to sell it. This can get the charge reduced to simple possession or even stop the entire case against you.
Lack of evidence. Often, a lawyer can block or challenge key pieces of evidence, weakening the case against you. Or the evidence may have holes in it from the beginning. Just because the prosecutor is using tough language does not mean they have a winning case.
Illegal search and seizure. Police have to follow dozens of rules while searching a suspect. Each of these rules is designed to ensure fairness and transparency. If they broke the rules, it poisons the entire case against you, and your lawyer could get the case dismissed—or block the evidence they found.
None of these defenses will work in every case. But together, they present an arsenal that a good lawyer can use to fight for you and help you avoid conviction.
What are the penalties for Vicodin possession in Los Angeles?
It depends on the type of charge:
Possession carries up to 1 year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines
Possession for sale or “drug trafficking” carries 2-4 years in prison and up to $20,000 in fines
Transporting carries up to a year in jail or up to 9 years in prison in some cases, and up to $20,000 in fines
Possession and transportation are typically charged as felonies, and will carry lifelong felon status if you are convicted. But all of these charges are serious—far too serious for the crime. If you’ve been arrested, you need to talk to a lawyer.
Talk to a Los Angeles Vicodin Lawyer for Free
Possessing Vicodin without a prescription can carry serious consequences. Don’t let one charge ruin your life. Let the Simmrin Law Group give you a FREE consultation—and help you defend yourself. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.