Vicodin is a legitimate painkiller used by people with all kinds of 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.
You need to talk to a possession of Vicodin defense lawyer in Los Angeles today. The attorneys at the Simmrin Law Group do not agree with California’s draconian drug laws, and we have dedicated ourselves to standing up for those who have been accused.
Vicodin Is Treated As a Hard Drug in Los Angeles
Vicodin is the 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 these drugs are legitimate medications, but they are treated the same as hard drugs like cocaine under the law. 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 hydrocodone without a valid reason (such as a prescription or being licensed to sell it). Specifically, it is illegal to:
- Possess Vicodin/hydrocodone
- Sell it or possess it with the intent to sell
- Transport it
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What Should You Do After an Arrest for Vicodin Possession?
If you are arrested on a charge of illegal Vicodin possession, you need to stay calm and say absolutely nothing to the police other than you want to speak to a Vicodin defense lawyer in Los Angeles. 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.
Aside from refusing to speak with the police, it is important to be otherwise cooperative. You do not need to face any additional charges like resisting arrest.
Technically, possession of hydrocodone is not its own criminal offense. Instead, you will be charged under California Health and Safety Code §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 Los Angeles Vicodin defense lawyer.
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What If You Were Accused of Selling Vicodin?
Selling a controlled substance (without a license) is a more serious charge than simply possessing it. If accused of this offense, you will be charged under a different statute, California Health and Safety Code §11351. This statute is also known as California’s drug trafficking law.
You can face this charge even if you only had a small amount of the substance on your person at the time of your arrest. There are several indicators that are likely to lead to this charge. A few of the most common include:
- 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.
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Is Forging a Vicodin Prescription a Felony?
Forging a Vicodin prescription is a “wobbler” offense. That means it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Which charge the defendant faces is largely decided based on any previous criminal history, as well as the specific circumstances of the case.
If charged with a misdemeanor, the defendant could face up to one year in jail, while a felony charge can result in up to three years in prison.
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What Does “Transporting” Vicodin Mean Under the Law?
Transporting controlled substances is prosecuted under California Health and Safety Code §11352. This charge is generally more serious than a possession charge.
In theory, this law exists to prevent criminal organizations from transporting large amounts of drugs. Unfortunately, HSC §11352 criminalizes the transporting of any amount of a controlled substance, including hydrocodone/ Vicodin, even over short distances. 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
- Moving Vicodin from any one 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)
Additionally, “transporting” has been expanded to include other actions such as giving Vicodin away freely to another person. As with other laws relating to Vicodin, there are defenses against a “transporting” charge, and it is possible to beat it.
What Defenses Can You Use Against Vicodin/ Hydrocodone Charges?
The defenses that are available to you depend on the specific circumstances of your case. However, several defenses can be very strong in these cases. Some of the most commonly used defenses are:
- The drugs did not belong to you.
- You had a prescription.
- You were unaware that Vicodin is a controlled substance.
- You did not have intent.
- There is a lack of evidence.
- There was an illegal search and seizure.
The Drugs Did Not Belong to You
Even if the drug was found in your house or car, it might not have been yours. You may not have even known it was there. This defense is valid.
You Had a Prescription
If you have a prescription for hydrocodone, then having the drug in your possession is not a crime as long as it does not exceed the amount to which you were prescribed.
You Were Unaware that Vicodin Is a Controlled Substance
It is not illegal to possess or transport Vicodin if you don’t know 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.
You Did Not Have Intent
It is possible for your lawyer to establish that you did not intend to transport the hydrocodone or did not intend to sell it. Doing so 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 must follow dozens of rules while searching a suspect’s person, home, vehicle, or belongings. 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 drug crimes lawyer in Los Angeles, CA could block the evidence they found or even get your case thrown out altogether.
Police officers must properly follow procedure because even if a defendant is guilty of the crime, they can go free if the evidence was not legally obtained. None of these defenses will work in every case. However, 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?
The penalties for Vicodin possession depend on the specific charge.
Even if the charge is simple possession, you could still face very harsh penalties. Under California HSC §11350, possession of a controlled substance is prosecuted as a misdemeanor. Possible consequences if convicted include:
- Up to one year in jail
- Up to $1,000 in fines
- Summary probation
Possession with the Intent to Sell (or “Drug Trafficking”)
If you are charged under California HSC §11351, you are looking at a potential felony conviction. A standard charge under this statute can carry consequences of:
- Up to four years in prison
- Up to $20,000 in fines
- Felony probation
Transporting controlled substances is a felony charge under California HSC §11352. Possible penalties if you are convicted of this crime include:
- Up to nine years in prison
- Up to $20,000 in fines
- Felony probation
Sentencing Enhancements for Possession of Vicodin
While the above sentences may seem harsh, they are far from the limits of what a defendant can receive if there are aggravating factors.
For instance, if a defendant is facing a charge of possession with the intent to sell, and the amount of hydrocodone in their possession exceeds 80 kilograms, they could face an additional 25 years in prison and fines of up to $8 million.
No matter what charge you face, it is important to have an experienced Los Angeles possession of Vicodin defense attorney by your side.
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, no-obligation consultation. We will listen to your story, take your side, and give you the best legal defense possible.
Fill out our online contact form or give us a call and speak with an experienced Los Angeles possession of Vicodin defense attorney today.