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Drug Crimes in California

Most drug offenses can be classified into the following three categories: simple possession, sale, and possession for sale.

Simple Drug Possession

Simple possession is the possession of a usable amount of a controlled substance for personal use.

Some common controlled substances are:

  • Methamphetamine
  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • Ecstasy (MDMA)

Some prescription medications are also considered controlled substances and possessing them without a valid prescription is against the law.

Simple possession of methamphetamine or ecstasy is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. Possession of cocaine or heroin for personal use is a misdemeanor punishable by a year in jail.

In many cases, those who have been charged with simple possession may be eligible for a drug diversion or treatment program instead of incarceration in jail. Successful completion of the program can lead to the dismissal of the charges at some point. However, failure to complete the program as directed by the court may mean jail. In any event, a consultation with a qualified attorney is essential to knowing all of the options available and to ensuring that all of your rights are protected.

What is Code 11377(a)?

California Health and Safety Code 11377(a) describes methamphetamine possession. To be convicted under this statute, the prosecutor has to prove that you illegally possessed a controlled substance, knew about its presence, knew that it was a controlled substance, and that it was a usable amount.

California Health and Safety Code Section 11377(a), the state crime of possessing methamphetamine, is discussed in this article. The following section applies to the possession of methamphetamine in general.

In addition, other provisions deal with the possession, sale, transportation, or manufacture of methamphetamine, for which the defendants generally face more serious punishment.

Sale of a Controlled Substance

A person who has been charged with the sale of a controlled substance faces greater punishment than someone charged with simple possession. The sale of cocaine or heroin is a straight felony punishable by a maximum sentence of five years in state prison. The sale of methamphetamine or ecstasy is a felony punishable by a maximum sentence of four years in state prison.

A typical sale case is where a person is charged with selling narcotics to an undercover police officer. In rare instances, a person is charged with selling narcotics to a person other than an undercover officer. It is rare because these types of cases usually involve confidential informants that the police do not want to "burn" by having them testify at trial as witnesses. Therefore, most sale cases involve the selling of narcotics to an undercover police officer.

In trials for selling to an undercover officer, the testimony of that officer is very important to the prosecution's case. In order to successfully defend against a sale of narcotics charge, you need an attorney who has enough trial experience to effectively cross-examine the officers. If you have been charged with the sale of narcotics, do not hire an attorney without inquiring as to the attorney's trial experience. Make sure the attorney possesses the necessary experience to effectively defend you against your charges.

Drug Possession for Sale

A person who is charged with possession for the sale of narcotics is accused of possessing the drugs with the intention of selling the drugs to another person or persons. Possession for sale of cocaine or heroin is a felony punishable by a maximum sentence of four years in prison. Possession for sale of methamphetamine or ecstasy carries a maximum sentence of three years.

In a typical possession for sale case, the government's evidence consists of facts that show that a person possessed narcotics, along with "indicia" that suggest that the person possessed the narcotics for the purpose of sale.

Some common indicia that are presented by the prosecution as evidence of intent to sell are:

  • The amount of narcotics possessed
  • Empty baggies for packaging
  • Scales to weigh the narcotics
  • Throwaway cell phones
  • Pay-owe sheets listing amounts of narcotics sold and money owed
  • Large amounts of cash

Along with the above evidence, the prosecution almost always presents the testimony of an "expert" to explain to the jury why the above evidence shows that the person possessed the narcotics for sale. These experts are usually police officers trained and experienced in investigating possession for sale cases.

Credible testimony by the officer is crucial to the prosecution. Therefore, a successful defense of the case depends heavily on the effective and aggressive cross-examination of the prosecution's expert. Only an attorney with significant trial experience in drug cases can ensure that all of the prosecution's evidence is aggressively and competently challenged in court.

Orange County Drug Lawyer

At the Law Offices of Christian Kim, our Orange County & Orange county drug crimes attorney, Christian Kim, has tried over 50 criminal jury trials and handled hundreds of drug cases. As a former prosecutor, Mr. Kim can see a case from the government's perspective and use it to his client's advantage. He uses his significant trial experience to aggressively and competently defend his clients who have been accused of drug offenses.

Call (714) 576-2935 now if you have been accused of a drug offense. We will give you a complete and honest evaluation of your case.

 Qualities of a Top-Tier Attorney

 When it Comes to Your Attorney, Experience Matters
  • Commitment
    Attorney Christian Kim is committed to using his extensive experience as a former prosecutor and as a Santa Ana criminal defense attorney to aggressively and competently defend the rights of those accused of wrongdoing.
  • Integrity
    Mr. Kim believes that anything less than complete honesty is a disservice to his clients. You deserve complete and frank communication from your attorney in order to make informed decisions in your case.
  • Professionalism
    Maintaining the highest level of professionalism with all of his clients is a priority for Mr. Kim. Each client is treated respectfully and courteously and all phone calls are returned promptly.
  • Experience
    After more than 7 years serving the Orange County area as a prosecutor and now over 14 years as a criminal defense attorney, Christian Kim has experience on both sides. His unique history gives him the one-of-a-kind perspective that your case needs.
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