Drug crimes are among the most common crimes in Los Angeles, California. Many people believe that the police must catch you with a controlled substance or drug to arrest you. However, the California Health and Safety Code Section 11364 HS makes it illegal to possess drug paraphernalia. Paraphernalia is any device or instrument used to inject, inhale, consume, smoke, or ingest a controlled substance.
Drug paraphernalia can include regular household items if there is a proof that you used them to inject, inhale, or consume the substance. Some of these items considered drug paraphernalia include rolling papers, syringes, bongs, spoons, roach clips, tourniquets, and hypodermic needles.
However, hypodermic needles and syringes can be exempted from drug paraphernalia law if only there is a proof that you legally possess them. You can purchase them if a doctor’s prescription is from an authorized source in California to inject your legal drugs.
Paraphernalia used for packaging or manufacturing drugs such as bags, capsules, scales, or balloons results in a felony possession, whose intention is to sell, rather than possess it. Possessing drug paraphernalia is a misdemeanor offense that is punishable by fines and possible jail terms. Drug paraphernalia possession, too, can result in having a drug offense on your record. A drug crime record can make it difficult for you to rent an apartment or secure a job, affecting your life.
To evade the penalties and charges that come with the offense, contact The LA Criminal Defense Law Firm. We will review your charges, explain the possible sentencing and penalties, and help build strong defenses. We have many years of experience and capable attorneys who understand the law and are ready to discuss your case.
Types of Drug Crimes
California's state and federal laws cover different cases, with federal drug charges having longer sentences than state laws. There are different types of drug crimes, and depending on the type of crime that you have been convicted, you can be subject to severe consequences. Some of the common types of drug crimes are:
Manufacturing Drug Paraphernalia
It is against California law to import, export, or sell any drug paraphernalia. Manufacturers of drug paraphernalia manufacture the items and design them to look as if they are used for legal purposes, while in the real sense, they are illegal items. The court will convict you depending on how the item looks and the place you did purchase it.
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
Depending on the type of drug involved, the laws on drug possessions vary from state to state. If you are convicted for drug possession, you will be charged with possession to distribute or simple possession. The court will charge you with simple possession if you possess small amounts of drugs and possession with an intent to distribute if you possess large quantities of drugs. The two offenses have different penalties with possession intending to distribute severe charges compared to the other.
Drug Manufacturing and Delivery
The manufacture and delivery of illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia is a crime under California's state and federal laws. If the court convicts you to manufacture and deliver drugs, you will face severe penalties such as fines and imprisonment. It must, however, prove that you manufactured the drugs with a criminal intention.
California's drug manufacturing and trafficking laws consider it a crime to transport, import, or sell illegal substances such as cocaine and marijuana. Drug trafficking is a more serious offense than mere possession since it involves large quantities of drugs. When you are convicted of drug trafficking, you will face severe charges, including life imprisonment.
Dealing with drugs is a criminal offense that involves the selling of drugs in smaller quantities. It is differentiated from trafficking in that drug dealing involves a single person selling the drugs in small amounts. In contrast, trafficking involves large quantities of drugs and can be done by different people. You will face severe consequences when the court convicts you for drug dealing, including fines and imprisonments.
Penalties You Will Face for Possessing Drug Paraphernalia
Possession of drug paraphernalia is a violation of health safety in California. According to the California Health and Safety Code section 11364, possession of drug paraphernalia is a misdemeanor offense whose punishment is dependent on the type of crime that has led to your arrest. The expected consequences for possessing drug Paraphernalia are:
Fines of up to $ 1,000
Serving a jail sentence for a maximum of six months I the county jail
Both penalties; fine payment and a jail sentence
There are though specific punishments related to particular crimes. They are:
Manufacturing and delivering drug paraphernalia. It is a misdemeanor offense that is punishable by a jail sentence in county jail, and fine payment
Furnishing drug paraphernalia to a minor. Anyone below the age of 18 years is considered as a minor according to the California law. Furnishing drug paraphernalia to a minor is a misdemeanor, punishable by a jail sentence in county jail, and fine payment.
Possession of drugs in schools. It is a misdemeanor offense punishable by a jail sentence and payment of a fine.
When the prosecutor convicts you for possessing drug Paraphernalia, the court has several punishment options that it may give to you.
You can face a jail sentence and pay a fine
The court may decide to put you on probation and impose a jail sentence in the county jail
You can be placed on probation with no jail sentence, and the court orders you to do community service and attend a drug counseling session
You may be assigned to a probation officer after you are placed on probation
The court may order you to enroll in a diversion program, and then your case will be dismissed when you complete the program.
The California drug law requires that you be put in custody for 15 days before the prosecutor makes the final decision when you are convicted. You may also be eligible for a diversion program, which prevents you from having a permanent criminal record that may limit your rights and freedom.
In addition to the above penalties, the court may also require you to complete a probation period for three years and community service or a drug counseling session.
Additional Consequences for Drug Crime Convictions
It may happen that during the search of drug paraphernalia by the police, they may come across other drugs that may add up to your case. You will, therefore, end up facing more severe consequences with stiffer penalties. Your professional license may be suspended. It may happen to professionals such as lawyers, teachers, and estate agents, who have the right to provide a specific service to the public.
You may end up having a permanent criminal record. When you have a permanent criminal record, you will have difficulties obtaining citizenship, retaining a professional permit, among other essential rights.
What the Prosecutor Must Prove to Convict You for possessing Drug Paraphernalia
For the prosecutor to convict you for a drug crime, they must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
You Were Aware that the Drug Paraphernalia was Present
You had control of the drug paraphernalia. The control can be actual or constructive. It means that the prosecutor must prove that you have direct control over the drug or drug paraphernalia.
You Knew the Item was Drug Paraphernalia
Possessing the drug paraphernalia is an offense in California, especially if you are aware that you had it. The exemption of possession comes if the person involved is a law enforcement officer and persons with a license issued by the California State Board of Pharmacy to prescribe, sell, or transfer Drug Paraphernalia. Such people include wholesalers, doctors, veterinarians, dentists, among others.
You Had the Control Over the Drug Paraphernalia
Drug Paraphernalia control can be actual or constructive. The prosecutor must prove that you influenced the use of drug Paraphernalia either directly or indirectly.
Defending Your Possession for Drug Paraphernalia Charges
Drug paraphernalia possession takes two forms, actual and constructive control. Actual possession means that you physically have the paraphernalia with you. For example, having a syringe in your pocket means that you are in actual possession of the paraphernalia. Constructive possession means that, even if you do not physically have the paraphernalia with you, you have a control or dominion over it.
A good example is having a roach clip in your house, in the car, or having someone else hold it for you. Therefore, constructive possession means that you can still have the physical possession of the drug paraphernalia at any time since it is yours, only that it may not be at your immediate reach.
Some of the common defenses to help you fight the charges of drug paraphernalia possession are:
The Item Was Not Paraphernalia
You may have an item that looks like a device used to inject or consume illegal drugs, but it is not in real sense. It does not mean that the device is used for that purpose. It can be a pipe or a syringe used to administer a particular medication to your sick animal. Therefore, the court will not convict you because only those items that are proven to be used to inject or consume controlled substances qualify for persecution under the Californian law.
The Paraphernalia was Not in Your Control
For the court to convict you for the crime, it has to prove that you had control of the paraphernalia. You should not, therefore, be sentenced if you are not in actual possession of it. For example, during a police officer search, they may come across a cocaine spoon that belongs to your roommate. Your attorney from The LA Criminal Defense Law Firm will defend your case because there will be no proof that you had the actual possession or control of the paraphernalia. After all, you are the two of you in the room.
You Were Not Aware of the Paraphernalia Presence
Awareness that the drug paraphernalia is present is a crucial element to your conviction. The court should dismiss you of the charges if you are not aware of drug paraphernalia. Your attorney can defend your case in different ways:
If paraphernalia were found in your clothes, the attorney would argue that you had given the clothes to a friend who used the paraphernalia and left it in one of the pockets. If the paraphernalia is found in your car, your attorney can argue that you had a friend who dropped without your notice.
Suppose you were on a journey using public means. In that case, your attorney can discuss your case based on the fact that a fellow traveler slipped the paraphernalia into your luggage to evade the police's arrest. The defense is well presented and can help dismiss your case, or your charges are reduced if there is some proof that, to an extent, you were aware of the presence of the drug paraphernalia.
You Were Not Aware That the Device was Drug Paraphernalia
The court will not prove your guilt for violating the law if they found you with drug paraphernalia, while you have no idea that the said object is paraphernalia. If you have not had previous criminal history convictions, your attorney can easily defend your case. If you prove that you are not aware that the object is drug paraphernalia, then the court will consider the following factors to determine whether you recognize the device:
Your statement concerning the use of the object
A testimony from an expert who will prove the use of the object
How you would display the item if it were for sale
Whether you have previous convictions related to drugs
You are a Victim of Police Entrapment
Entrapment happens when law enforcement officers or government agents engage in a behavior that will induce you to commit a crime. They can persuade you to violate the law if they notice that you do not have an interest in doing what is wrong. Such cases include false assurances, harassment, or use of under pressure. Your attorney can defend your case, especially if the crime originated from law enforcement officers, and if the facts are well presented, the court will rule in your favor and have your case dismissed.
You are Authorized to Possess the Item
We can take the case of people who put their body health conditions under control, such as the diabetics. They will have the authority from the doctor’s prescription to have hypodermic needles and syringes with them. The law enforcement officer may arrest you if you have a similar condition, and they found you with the items since needles and syringes are always related to heroin use.
For the court to convict you, they must prove that your possession of the needle and the syringe was against the law. On the other hand, your attorney can defend your case by presenting the facts that you legally possessed the paraphernalia or the needle, and the syringe are meant for personal use, such as medical purposes prescribed by a specialist.
The Prosecution’s Evidence is Insufficient
Your charges must meet all the crime elements for the court to convict you for possessing the drug paraphernalia. Since not all objects that resemble drug paraphernalia are illegal, the prosecutor, therefore, must prove that the item under your possession is used to inject, consume, or smoke illegal drugs. They must also prove that you were well aware that it is drug paraphernalia and used it. Your attorney from The LA Criminal Defense Law Firm can defend your case by proving that there is no sufficient evidence to lead to your conviction.
The Law Enforcement Officers Did Not Follow the Right Procedure
According to the California constitution, you are entitled to freedom from seizure and unreasonable search by the government. To search you or your property, they must have a search warrant. In case they want to make stops and arrests, they should follow specific formalities and procedures to ensure that they safeguard your right.
Before they arrest you, they must have a probable cause for your arrest and inform you of your Miranda rights before the interrogation process starts, and they can only search the evidence for the crime that has led to your arrest.
It happens that the police will find drug paraphernalia when they pull you over for a different reason. For instance, the police pull you over for overspeeding and search your vehicle without a justifiable reason. During the search, they could find drug paraphernalia and use it to press charges against you.
Suppose during the arrest, and the police officer did not read out to you your Miranda rights, your attorney can defend the case by convincing the court to suppress any statements you made during the interrogation. Your attorney can also declare the evidence presented inadmissible, hence the chances of winning your case increase.
Drug Diversion as an Alternative
Apart from having to face severe penalties to refrain from drug abuse, drug diversion is an alternative that will help you rebuild your life. It involves completing a particular treatment and abiding by the conditions given by the court. Therefore, it means that you can have an opportunity to clean your name from being in drug paraphernalia records. You will live your usual way of life, including securing a job and renting an apartment.
Drug paraphernalia possession is an offense that is eligible for resolution through a drug diversion program if:
You did not involve yourself in violence or threatened violence as a result of possessing the paraphernalia
You do not have previous drug convictions
Your case does not involve any other violation of narcotics
You have not had your parole or probation revoked
You have not been through any other diversion program in the past five years
You have not been a felony convict for the past five years.
When the court allows you to complete the drug diversion program, you must plead guilty. The court will provide you with enough time to complete substance abuse treatment instead of sentencing you. Once you meet all the conditions outlined by the court, and you are through with the substance abuse treatment, then the court will dismiss your drug paraphernalia charges.
Find a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Law Firm Near Me
Like drug possession, drug paraphernalia possession carries severe consequences. Therefore, you should seek help from an attorney who understands drug laws to help you build defenses. At The LA Criminal Defense Law Firm, we are devoted to ensuring that your charges are dropped or reduced. Contact us at 310-935-1675 to speak with a lawyer in Los Angeles and for a favorable outcome.