The most common types in California are prescription drugs, methamphetamine, and cocaine. Sometimes it’s Adderall without a prescription; that’s pretty much the basis of my experience with it. I also saw quite a few marijuana cases a couple of years ago before legalization.
What Are the Most Common Scenarios You’ve Seen When it Comes to Criminal Drug Cases?
The most common is either meth or cocaine. It’s usually a possession charge. It’s very rare to see an actual possession with intent to sell or transport. It’s usually just a standard possession charge for either methamphetamine or cocaine.
What Are the Primary Differences Between Possession vs. Intent to Sell or Distribute Charges?
As far as the offense itself, that’s triggered by the quantity. Obviously, a smaller amount is more likely to lead to the possession charges. If you have a large amount and maybe the officer’s going through your phone and sees some kind of “pay list”, they’re probably going to try to hit you with intent to sell or distribute. As far as the charges themselves, the main difference is that the possession charge is pretty much a misdemeanor.
There are very few circumstances where it’s going to be a felony. The intent to transport or sell, distribute, or anything like that is going to lead to felony charges. As of 2015, a misdemeanor offense will carry a maximum of 364 days, one day short of a year, and the felony offenses will carry a minimum sentence of one year. Most felony drug offenses will carry a sentencing range between anywhere from 16 months to 3 years on a conviction.
What Were the Penalties Before the Changes in Law?
Before the changes, misdemeanors were punishable by up to one year in prison, or 365 days. One of the reasons for the change in legislation is because of the immigration consequences. Immigration does look very poorly on any kind of drug offenses, but with respect to the changes that were made, a lot of these cases were being looked at in the context of that potential one-year sentence and that’s what was killing people, figuratively.
Immigration was looking poorly at the fact that they were being sentenced on these offenses where the potential was one year incarceration,. That was what spearheaded this legislation change to make all misdemeanors max out at 364 days. It eliminates one of the criteria for immigration to consider it a more serious offense.
If I Get Caught with Cocaine or Meth, Am I Going to Face Jail Time?
Yes! How much time is going to depend on how much you’re caught with; if you’re caught with a minimal amount that you can legitimately say that it’s for personal use, you’re probably going to be looking at no more than 364 days. Most of the time, the minimum is 90 days for a possession of drug offense. If you’re caught with a substantial amount and you’re being charged with the felony and intent to distribute, then you’re probably going to be looking at a minimum of 16 months, depending on prior record.
How Are Legal or Prescription Drug Cases Handled?
Obviously you can’t have a prescription for cocaine so a prescription drug is handled a little bit differently. If you can show a valid prescription, the court’s going to be a lot more lenient on you as far as sentencing goes. They might even agree to offer some sort of diversion program. If you’re caught with a legal substance like Adderall, something that you can get legally with a prescription, but you don’t have a prescription for, then you’re not really doing yourself any favors even if you can get a prescription afterwards. It’s not going to cover the date of the incident, so it’s not going to be as clean cut. If you have a prescription, it will be treated more fairly.
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