Actual Case #1
In People v. Edwin R., - Case No BA443340, my client hired me after his previous attorney was telling him to plea to the charge of violating Health and Safety Code section 11360(a) - sales/possession for sales of marijuana. The facts were simple: my client was operating a Medicinal Marijuana Dispensary on Crenshaw Blvd. in Los Angeles. The police didn't like this particular location of the Dispensary as someone unrelated to this legal Marijuana business was murdered in the alley behind the location. Though the killing had nothing to do with this legitimate business, the police wanted to shut it down despite the companies lawful and humanitarian purpose. So what the Los Angeles Police Department did was to solicit a couple of undercover "buys" where they approached some hood rat or tweeker on the street and gave him or her a pre-recorded/marked $20.00 bill to go into the Dispensary without a Proposition 215 Identification card and make a "buy." This went on for two separate occasions when the police, like 25 deep, raided the legal Marijuana Dispensary and broke down the front and back door, destroyed all the shelving and glass casings inside the Dispensary, and assaulted the 3 employees who were inside the business with Assault weapons, handguns, shod feet and shotguns. The police recovered a couple of ounces of Medical Marijuana, some pocket change, and one of the security guards had a legally owned and possessed handgun so they added into the police report that weapons were recovered. All three of the employees were charged with felony Sales of Marijuana and I told my client to tell them to just sit tight and wait as the case was weak. After the case was set for trial, it was dismissed within a couple of days in September 2016 and everyone just went home.
Facing marijuana charges is often a stressful and emotional experience. Being found in violation of California drug laws may result in prison time, fines of up to $10,000 and felonies. Your first plan of action after being charged is to consult a professional and conscientious criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles, California.
California laws divide marijuana offenses into several categories including possession for personal use, possession with the intent to sell, marijuana cultivation, and hash and concentrates.
The following are related penal codes for marijuana charges:
HS 11350- California Possession of a Controlled Substance
- Unlawfully and knowingly possessing usable amount of a controlled substance
HS Code 11351- Possession and/or Purchased of a Controlled Substance for Sale
- Having or buying a controlled substance with the intent to sell
HS Code 11352- Sale or Transport of a Controlled Substance
- Selling, transporting, importing controlled substance in or into the state of California
HS Code 11358- Possession of Marijuana for Sale
- Possessing marijuana with the intent to sell
HS Code 11360- Sales of and Possession of Marijuana for Sale
- Sales of and Possessing marijuana for purposes of sales
Associated Crimes, Charges and Substances
There are several offenses associated with marijuana charges.
- Personal Use
- With the Intent to Distribute
- Sale or Delivery
- Hash and Concentrates
In order to prove you guilty of a marijuana charge, first a prosecutor must prove that you possessed the marijuana, a controlled substance, unlawfully. Next, he or she is obligated to prove that you were aware of its presence AND that substance was characteristically a controlled substance. Meaning that you were aware that the item in question was a controlled substance and that you possessed it.
Finally, it is also legally required to prove that the substance itself was marijuana (in this case) and that it was found in a usable amount. In the state of California, being found guilty of possessing 28.5 grams or more for personal use is a misdemeanor and has a maximum incarceration time of up to 6 months.
While it is necessary for the prosecutor to prove that you knew the substance was present and was a controlled substance, he or she does not need to demonstrate that you knew of its specific nature (e.g. Marijuana, Cocaine).
Who Can Be Charged
In California, medical marijuana laws have been put into place, and small amounts of marijuana for personal use have been decriminalized to an extent. Being found in possession of less than an ounce of marijuana for personal use may result in an infraction and fine of $100. However, anyone found to be in possession of more than one ounce of a controlled substance (for personal use, intent to distribute, cultivation for sale or delivery) may face criminal charges and penalties including incarceration and fines.
It is important to keep in mind that being convicted of a marijuana charge may affect your immigration status. In some circumstances, this conviction constitutes an aggravated felony and may lead to deportation. For this reason, it is imperative to work with a defense attorney well-versed in immigration law if you are a noncitizen of the United States.
There are several potential defenses for marijuana charges including, but not limited to:
- Medical necessity- controlled substance was prescribed by a medical doctor
- Improper police conduct
- Faulty or problematic lab analysis
- Unlawful search
- Not knowing substance was a controlled substance
- Not possessing the controlled substance
- Entrapment by law enforcement officials
- Lack of sufficient evidence
Take, for example, the defense of not knowing the substance was a controlled substance. A prepared and professional attorney can raise reasonable doubt by demonstrating a lack of knowledge. If you purchased a two-ounce bag of what you believed to be THC-free hemp and were not aware of its nature as marijuana, you did not possess the knowledge of its nature as a controlled substance.
Being found in possession of less than one ounce of marijuana for personal use may result in an infraction and fine of $100. Individuals found in possession of more than 28.5 grams of personal use marijuana may face a misdemeanor, 6 months incarceration time and a maximum fine of $500.
As for sale or delivery charges, these may result in felony convictions. Felony convictions result in incarceration time of 16 months to 3 years as well as the loss of the right to possess a firearm, vote, sit on a jury and hold public office. There are also immigration and employment consequences to consider. You may also face 3 to 5 years of probation, in which you will be under the supervision of a probation officer and must comply with all laws as well as the terms and conditions of your probation.
Finally, you may also incur up to $10,000 in fines and have to serve community service time.
Related Offenses/Additional Penalties
The following are related offenses to marijuana charges and may result in additional penalties:
California- Possession of Marijuana while Driving Law- Vehicle Code 23222(b)
- Driving while in possession of a controlled substance
HS Code 11358- Cultivation of Marijuana Laws in California
- Participating in marijuana cultivation or having dominion over area that was used for marijuana cultivation with legal entitlement
How Can We Help
To achieve the most favorable outcome, it is imperative to hire a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney who is experienced in marijuana charges. With the right lawyer, charges may be dropped and penalties reduced. It takes a tenacious, effective lawyer to make it happen. The Law Offices of Jeff Voll has successfully handled over 8,000 criminal defense cases. P J Voll specializes in marijuana charges and is prepared to fight for you and your case.
To find out more information about these topics, please call us direct at 323-467-6400