THE SAFFARI LAW FIRM

Drug Offenses

California Health & Safety Code 11350 H.S.;
California Health & Safety Code 11351 H.S.; etc.

Drug offenses cover a wide variety of crimes, and the charges will vary depending on the type of illegal drug, the quantity, and whether you were allegedly possessing, manufacturing, transporting or selling the drug.

“Simple Possession” of a controlled substance is typically charged as a misdemeanor. Most drug crimes are “wobbler” offenses, meaning that the District Attorney can charge you with either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the type and amount of the drug, circumstances of the case, and your criminal record (if any).

What are Drug Offenses?

The most common drug offenses in California include the following:

  • Possession of a Controlled Substance (California Health & Safety Code 11350 H.S.) (misdemeanor);
  • Possession for Sale of a Controlled Substance (California Health & Safety Code 11351 H.S.) (felony);
  • Sale or Transportation of a Controlled Substance (California Health & Safety Code 11352 H.S.) (felony);
  • Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (California Health & Safety Code 11364 H.S.) (misdemeanor);
  • Possession of Methamphetamine (California Health & Safety Code 11377 H.S.) (typically, a misdemeanor);
  • Manufacturing a Controlled Substance (California Health & Safety Code 11379.6 H.S.) (felony);
  • Possession of Material to Manufacture a Controlled Substance (California Health & Safety Code 11383 H.S. & California Health & Safety Code 11383.5 H.S.) (felony); and
  • Being Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance (California Health & Safety Code 11550 H.S.) (misdemeanor).

What are “Controlled Substances” and Drug “Schedules”?

Controlled substances are typically illegal drugs that are considered harmful to a person health and welfare, and which are regulated by the federal and state governments. You can therefore be punished and even imprisoned for possessing, selling, trafficking, manufacturing, or transporting these substances.

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) breaks down controlled substances into five different categories (as listed in the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970):

Schedule I: Substances that have no accepted medical use, are considered by the DEA inherently unsafe, and that have a high potential for abuse (e.g., ecstasy, heroin, LSD, marijuana, and peyote);

Schedule II: Narcotics and stimulants that have a high potential for abuse and can result in severe psychological or physical dependence (e.g., Adderall, amphetamines, codeine, Dexedrine, Demerol, Dilaudid, hydrocodone, methadone, methamphetamine, OxyContin, Percocet, morphine, and opium);

Schedule III: Substances that have less potential for abuse but that can still result in moderate physical addiction, as well as high psychological addiction (e.g., anabolic steroids, ketamine, Suboxone, Tylenol with Codeine);

Schedule IV: Substances that have a lower potential for abuse than Schedule III drugs (e.g., Ativan, Halcion, Klonopin, Restoril, Soma, Valium, Versed, and Xanax); and

Schedule V: Preparations (liquids, pills, gelcaps, etc.) that contain limited quantities of narcotics (e.g., cough syrups with codeine).

California drug laws often refer to these Schedules for the purpose of identifying the elements of specific drug crimes, as well as the punishments for such convictions.

What Does the Prosecutor Need to Prove for a Charge of Simple Possession of a Controlled Substance (California Health & Safety Code 11350 H.S.)?

To prove that you are guilty of Possession for Sale of a Controlled Substance under California Health & Safety Code 11350 H.S. (e.g., cocaine, codeine, heroin, LSD, Oxycontin, and Vicodin) and California Health & Safety Code 11377 H.S. (methamphetamine), the prosecutor must prove each of the following elements (as required by the Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions CALCRIM 2304):

  • You unlawfully possessed a controlled substance;
  • You knew of its presence; and
  • You knew the substance was a controlled substance.

    What Does the Prosecutor Need to Prove for a Charge of Possession for Sale of a Controlled Substance (California Health & Safety Code 11351 H.S.)?

    To prove that you are guilty of Possession for Sale of a Controlled Substance under California Health & Safety Code 11351 H.S., California Health & Safety Code 11351.5 H.S. (cocaine base), California Health & Safety Code 11378 H.S. (Schedule III, IV, or V drugs that are not narcotics), and California Health & Safety Code 11378.5 H.S. (phencyclidine or any similar drug), the prosecutor must prove each of the following elements (as required by the Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions CALCRIM 2302):
  • You unlawfully possessed a controlled substance;
  • You knew of its presence;
  • You knew the substance was a controlled substance; and
  • When you possessed the controlled substance, you intended to sell it or that someone else would sell it.

What Happens If I am Convicted of a Charge of Simple Possession or Possession for Sale of a Controlled Substance?

If you are convicted of a Drug Offense under California Health & Safety Code 11350 H.S., California Health & Safety Code 11377 H.S., California Health & Safety Code 11351 H.S., California Health & Safety Code 11351.5 H.S., California Health & Safety Code 11378 H.S., and California Health & Safety Code 11378.5 H.S. you face the following punishment (excluding any sentencing enhancements):

  • Two, three, or four years in prison (served in County Jail under California Penal Code 1170(h) P.C. (if you are convicted of felony Possession for Sale); or
  • One year in county jail (if you are convicted of misdemeanor Simple Possession or Possession for Sale); and
  • A maximum fine of $20,000 (felony or misdemeanor Possession for Sale) or $1,000 (misdemeanor Simple Possession);
  • Probation of three or five years;
  • Possible substance abuse counseling;
  • Possible community service;
  • Asset seizure (if applicable); and
  • Possible loss of ability to obtain or maintain a professional license, loss of employment or educational opportunities, loss of driving privileges, or adverse immigration consequences (if applicable).

What are My Possible Defenses to a Drug Offense Charge?

In pursuing these cases, law enforcement violates your Constitutional and civil rights more than in any other area of criminal law. For example, the purported evidence will often have been seized illegally by police either without a warrant or with a legally defective warrant. Or the police tried to make a case by entrapping you, planting evidence, or falsifying the police report. Therefore, drug cases are often the most defensible.

Drug cases are also those where the courts impose the most unfairly harsh sentences, and where the District Attorney’s Office “overcharges” (i.e., charges you with a Possession for Sale felony fwhen the amount you were arrested only merits a misdemeanor charge of Simple Possession). Therefore, it is extremely important that you hire a top Los Angeles County Drug Crimes attorney like Ninaz Saffari who knows how to thoroughly investigate the facts, to prepare motions to exclude all illegally seized evidence, and to even get the case dismissed outright.

Barring that, Ms. Saffari will do everything in her power to convince the District Attorney’s Office to offer you a favorable plea agreement. Alternatively, she will take your case all the way through trial, where she will fight to discredit all of the prosecution’s witnesses, including the police and detective, as well as the D.A.’s evidence.

In addition, the D.A.’s case may have been built on the word of inherently unreliable informants who are being paid for their information and/or testimony, or who are trying to avoid jail time on their own drug cases.

A highly experienced, knowledgeable, and skilled Drug Crimes attorney like Ninaz Saffari knows exactly how to aggressively expose all of these deficiencies in the D.A.’s case. For example, few attorneys in Los Angeles are as skilled as Ms. Saffari in cross-examining law enforcement officials who “testi-lie” on the stand, or who have otherwise failed to strictly follow all legal and Constitutional procedures. She will even file motions to disclose the law enforcement officer’s prior work history to uncover similar instances of official misconduct, and will use this information to further discredit the testifying officer.

Ms. Saffari also works closely with highly respected drug rehabilitation placement counselors to place her clients into proper treatment programs as soon as possible. By doing so early on in the case, and by you doing so voluntarily, she can prove to the D.A. and the judge that you are serious about taking responsibility for your actions, and about getting the necessary professional help and counseling to ensure you don’t get into legal trouble again.

She will also work tirelessly with you to prepare a mitigation package to convince the D.A. and the court that you are doing everything in your power to turn your life around and that you deserve a second chance. In addition, you may be eligible to qualify for diversion, deferred entry of judgement (“DEJ”), or drug court.

Drug offense cases can often be resolved during the investigation stage even before criminal charges are actually filed. Specifically, Ms. Saffari might be able to convince the investigating detective to not refer the case to the District Attorney’s Office for prosecution, or to convince the D.A.’s Office not to file charges if the case has already been referred. These are called Pre-Files, which Ms. Saffari has a great deal of experience in successfully negotiating. See her Case Results.

If you are charged with a Drug Crime, Ms. Saffari will first conduct a thorough investigation, often with the help of her private investigator, to ascertain all relevant facts. Again, if possible, she will attempt to get the charges dismissed either before or shortly after they are filed. If she takes the case to trial, she will often use an expert witness who will support your defense, or who will testify that the District Attorney has otherwise failed to provide enough evidence to meet the high threshold to prove guilt.

The following are the possible defenses to a Drug Offense charge:

  • Lack of knowledge. You did not actually know that you were in possession of a controlled substance (e.g., someone planted the drug on you, you were wearing someone else’s jacket which contained the drug, you did not know that the substance was illegal, etc.).
  • Lack of useable quantity or sufficient quantity to justify a trafficking charge. The amount of the illegal drug was so little that you cannot be charged with even possession. Alternatively, the amount you were arrested with or which was seized was for your own personal consumption and not intended for trafficking.
  • Lack of possession. You were not in actual possession or constructive possession of the drug. For example, one of your friends stashed a bindle of his cocaine in the glovebox of your car, or the drugs were found in a common area of an apartment you share with multiple roommates.
  • Lack of specific intent. At the time of the incident, you did not have the specific intent to sell, manufacture, or transport the controlled substance.
  • Not a controlled substance. The drug you were in possession of was not actually illegal.
  • Prescription (for pharmaceutical cases). You had a legal prescription for the drug.
  • False accusations. The alleged victim or supposed eyewitness may have ulterior motives for lying to the police. Some of the most common motives include child custody disputes and romantic strife with current or former lovers.
  • Misidentification by the accuser or witness. For example, your act was misunderstood or misinterpreted, or you were not the actual person who allegedly committed the drug offense. Eyewitness identification can be affected by many different factors, including bad lighting, witness stress, cross-racial identification, suggestions by the police, etc.
  • Constitutional defenses. These include lack of probable cause, police misconduct (coerced confession, planted evidence, falsified police report, racial profiling, entrapment, tainted forensic evidence, etc.), Miranda violations (suppressing any statements you made to the police if your Miranda rights were violated), and suppression of evidence that was seized without reasonable suspicion, probable cause, or a valid warrant (in violation of the Fourth Amendment).
  • Insufficient evidence. The prosecutor failed to provide sufficient evidence to prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of one or more charges.
  • The accuser and/or witnesses are not credible. In other words, for any host of reasons, the jury simple does not believe what the accuser and/or witnesses are claiming about your criminal culpability.

What Kind of Drug Charges Has Ninaz Saffari Defended?

Since 2005, Ninaz Saffari has successfully represented hundreds of clients in all types of drug cases and drug offenses, from juveniles in possession of small amounts of marijuana to individuals accused of trafficking large amounts of heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine, including as part of alleged trafficking organizations. Many of her drug cases have included ancillary charges, such as gun possession. Her drug cases have covered the entire gamut of misdemeanor to felonies, and sentences from misdemeanors to decades in prison.

Ninaz Saffari also has extensive experience representing medical marijuana dispensaries, on both criminal charges (e.g., operating without a valid license) and related civil issues (such as unlawful detainer/eviction actions from landlords who have been threatened with prosecution by the City Attorney’s Office for renting to unlicensed dispensaries). See her Case Results.

Finally, Ms. Saffari is licensed to practice in the federal Central District Court of Los Angeles and, therefore, can also defend federal drug cases.

--

If you or a loved one are currently being investigated or prosecuted for this crime, it is critical that you immediately hire a highly skilled, aggressive and experienced Los Angeles County Drug Crimes criminal defense attorney like Ninaz Saffari. Contact the Saffari Law Firm, P.C. now for a free telephone consultation. If Ms. Saffari believes she can help you, she will immediately schedule a free in-person meeting or, if you are in custody, she will visit you in jail (again, for free and with no obligation to hire her).

CONTACT US


5670 Wilshire Blvd Ste 1800
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Representing All Of Los Angeles County including:

Downtown Criminal Courts Building
LAX Courthouse
Van Nuys Courthouse
San Fernando Courthouse
Compton Courthouse
Long Beach Courthouse
Norwalk Courthouse

Copyright © 2019 Saffari Law Firm.