Drug Trafficking & Possession Attorney Los Angeles
The war on drugs continues with California and federal law enforcement agencies interested in abetting the flow of illegal drugs into the state and country. In its last assessment of the national drug threat, the DEA looked at the trafficking of illicit drugs as more than just the potential for overdosing and addiction. “The violence, intimidation, theft, and financial crimes carried out by transnational criminal organizations (TCOs), criminal groups, and violent gangs pose a significant threat to our nation.” Because illegal drug trafficking also involves firearms trafficking and sometimes human trafficking, along with public corruption, prosecutions are often fierce.
Retaining talented and savvy counsel early in drug trafficking and possession investigation or arrest is necessary to preserve your options and protect your rights as an individual. Contact RP Criminal Defense Law to schedule a consultation to permit our Los Angeles-based drug trafficking and possession defense attorneys to assess the strength of the government’s case and to guide you through any prosecution to ensure fairness and strict compliance with constitutional and statutory mandates. We are conveniently located in Encino and Ontario. RP Criminal Defense Law provides aggressive individualized representation backed by experience and a thorough understanding of all aspects of drug trafficking and possession prosecutions.
What Is Drug Trafficking?
Drug trafficking is both a California and federal crime. Under California Health and Safety Code sec 11532, it is illegal to import, transport, or sell illicit drugs within the state. It will always be charged as a felony, although through the process of plea bargaining, the charge might be dropped to a misdemeanor. If the trafficking involves international or interstate commerce, and the value of the trafficking is significant, then federal law enforcement might get involved under the authority of 21 U.S.C. sec 841.
When Is Drug Trafficking a Federal Charge?
The state performs most prosecutions for drug trafficking. However, you will likely be charged and prosecuted in federal court if you have been arrested by the FBI, DEA, or another federal agency. Federal agencies get involved when there are large quantities of illicit drugs involved, the distribution is either international or interstate, or the drug dealing is within a High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, which is a targeted area for aggressive law enforcement. The Los Angeles area is a designated High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. The federal government’s resources are monumental, making defending a federal indictment complex and expensive.
Under federal sentencing guidelines, even a first-time offender can be sentenced to a minimum of 5 years in prison for possession and transport of illicit drugs based on quantities:
- Heroin—100 g
- Cocaine—500 g
- Crack Cocaine—28 g
- Methamphetamines—5 g
As the quantities increase, so does the sentencing. These quantities can result in a minimum of 10 years in prison:
- Heroin—1 kg
- Cocaine—5 kg
- Crack Cocaine—280 kg
- Marijuana—1,000 kg
- Methamphetamines—50 g
Second offenses can mean 20 years in prison.
And then there are the fines. To recoup profits and to deter future drug trafficking, federal courts often impose enormous fines ranging from $5-20 million.
Drug Trafficking Penalties in California
It is illegal to sell, transport, import or export, or even give away controlled substances, including illicit and prescription drugs.
Under California law, there are a variety of factors that influence sentencing for a conviction for drug trafficking. These “aggravating factors” include the volume of illicit drugs, selling drugs to minors, trafficking drugs near a drug treatment facility, and selling drugs to pregnant women, felons, or people with mental disorders.
Sentences can range from 3-9 years in prison with fines up to $20,000.
Other Consequences of Drug Trafficking in California
The consequences of a conviction for drug trafficking in California can go beyond prison time and fines. For those defendants who are not citizens, deportation or removal from the United States is inevitable. Convicted citizens can lose their professional state licenses: teacher, doctor, nurse, pharmacist, therapist, broker, and attorney. A convicted felon also loses access to many government benefits, including educational grants and scholarships. And lastly, a conviction might lead to a convicted drug offender registration. If firearms are confiscated or used to commission these crimes, additional charges can compound sentencing and consequences.
Legal Defense for Drug Trafficking Charges
As in all criminal prosecutions, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt all of the elements of the crime of drug trafficking and possession. Defenses are specific to the facts of your case. At RP Criminal Defense Law, we will analyze the police and all of the investigatory reports to discern whether the police or other law enforcement officers acted according to the constraints of the constitution and state statutes in conducting any investigation and arrest. The consequences of an illegal search or seizure might include suppression of evidence.
All defenses arise from the unique facts of every case. However, common defenses include: lack of awareness that you possessed illegal drugs; possession of these drugs was lawful; you were merely an innocent bystander caught up in a police investigation, or the drugs seized were not controlled substances.
Only aggressive and savvy drug trafficking and possession criminal defense attorneys should be trusted to protect your freedom and constitutional rights.
Drug Possession Lawyer Serving Los Angeles & San Bernadino
Facing a state or federal charge of drug trafficking and possession can be intimidating, with the possibility of a felony prosecution and time in state or federal prison if convicted. You deserve a fair assessment of the strength of the prosecution’s case to determine how best to proceed. You also deserve representation that will bring skill and expertise to examining the police reports and investigatory reports to fully understand the weight of evidence and the savvy one gets from years of experience representing criminal defendants in the Los Angeles and San Bernadino courts. Our offices are conveniently located in Encino and Ontario. Only seasoned criminal defense attorneys can realistically evaluate the evidence, the credibility of witnesses, and the predilection of the trial judge. Call us at (818) 646-3443 or contact the firm online to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.