A drug crime is what it sounds like, a crime that is related to drugs. All 50 states and the federal government have laws addressing the possession, use, manufacture, and sale of certain drugs. Every drug crime has certain standards and carries different penalties.
This applies especially to the severity of the crime that was committed. Typically, drug crimes include offenses such as:
- Possession: Drug possession is the most common drug crime. Drug possession charges usually arise when an individual is knowingly in possession of a drug without authorization, such as when a person has a drug without a valid prescription;
- Typically, a drug possession charge takes into account the amount of the drug involved;
- The penalties may vary depending on whether the amount is for personal use or sale and distribution;
- Manufacturing: Drug manufacturing often involves creating, or cooking, methamphetamines or growing illegal marijuana;
- Packaging a drug for resale may also count as manufacturing;
- Use: The use of illegal drugs can be a criminal act, especially in cases where a drug requires a prescription from a doctor and the offender does not have the required prescription; and
- Distribution: This category of drug crime includes engaging in any of the following with illegal substances:
- Trafficking; and
Drug crimes may also include drug trafficking, depending on the number of drugs involved and the type involved.
What Are Some Different Types of Illegal Drugs?
The legality of most drugs is determined by how the drug is being used and the reason. For example, marijuana is a drug that is currently illegal in numerous states.
However, some states will allow its use for recreational purposes. Some states only allow its use with a medical prescription.
Prescription drugs are considered legal for individuals who hold a valid prescription. If an individual possesses or uses a prescription drug without a prescription from their doctor, they can be charged with a drug crime.
Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the United States, even in states where its possession and use are prohibited. There have been many changes in marijuana laws.
As of October 2022, 37 states have legalized the medical use of marijuana to varying degrees.
Other drugs that are commonly abused and may bring about criminal charges include substances such as:
- Ecstasy; and
- PCP, or Angel Dust.
What Is a Controlled Substance?
Generally, a controlled substance is a drug that the federal and state governments regulate. These substances usually have a detrimental effect on an individual’s health and welfare.
These types of substances are strictly controlled by government regulation. The Controlled Substances Act divides up different categories of drugs into five schedules based on their:
- Medicinal value;
- Potential for abuse; and
- Likelihood for dependency and safety for public use.
A controlled substance may be both a legal drug or an illegal drug.
What Are the Possible Punishments for Drug Crime Convictions?
Under both the federal and state criminal systems, the majority of the cases that involve drug crimes arise from charges involving:
- Drug possession;
- Drug manufacturing; or
- Drug trafficking.
The punishment for a federal drug offense is typically more severe than one that involves state charges. In addition, every state has rules regarding drug crimes and how they are punished.
In general, punishments are based on the following:
- The type of drug involved: The more dangerous the drug, the more severe the punishment. For example, possessing heroin may result in a more severe punishment than marijuana;
- The amount of drug: Large quantities of drugs may indicate that the drug was intended for distribution;
- Purpose of possession: Whether the drug was intended for personal use or sale and distribution;
- Prior convictions: An offender’s prior convictions can be factored into the decision regarding sentencing; and
- Probation or parole status: If an offender is on probation when convicted of a drug crime, they may face having their probation revoked.
Punishments for drug offenses may vary from state to state. However, in general, the consequences for a drug offense conviction may include the following:
- Court-ordered counseling;
- Community service; or
- Loss of child custody.
Who are Los Angeles Drug Crime Lawyers?
In the City of Los Angeles, an individual may be charged with a felony or misdemeanor drug crime, depending on several factors, including:
- Whether the drugs were for personal use;
- The number of drugs; and
- The defendant’s prior criminal record.
What can I be Charged with if I Was on Drugs When I Was Arrested?
Under Health and Safety Code 11550, an individual may be charged with being under the influence of drugs. It is a misdemeanor offense when an individual does not hold a valid, written prescription for the drug or if the drug is illegal, for example, flakka.
What Are the Drug Crimes for Personal Sale or Use?
California’s Health and Safety Codes 11350 and 11377 make possession of a controlled substance illegal if an individual does not have a valid, written prescription. Driving under the influence (DUI) and being under the influence of a controlled substance are charges an individual can face under these laws.
A felony conviction may result in a sentence of three years in prison.
Are Possessing Drugs and Possession for Sale Different Charges?
Yes, California distinguishes between possession of drugs and possession of drugs for sale. The Health and Safety Codes 11351, 11351, and 11378 make it illegal for an individual to possess drugs to sell.
For intent to sell, a defendant may face a sentence of up to five years. The punishment for this offense is also harsher than a possession for personal use drug charge.
A possession-for-sale conviction is a priorable offense. This means that a future drug sale conviction will be increased to three or more years in prison.
How Does California Treat Drug Trafficking?
In Los Angeles, an individual may be charged with drug trafficking if they:
- Imported, or brought the drugs into the state;
- Transported drugs;
- Sold drugs;
- Provided drugs;
- Gave away the drugs;
- Aided in the drug trafficking;
- Helped someone transport drugs; or
- Conspired with someone to transport drugs.
All drug trafficking penalties may result in five years in prison.
How Long is a Drug Manufacturing Conviction in Los Angeles?
If a defendant is convicted of drug manufacturing in Los Angeles, they face seven years in prison. Manufacturing drugs includes doing any of the following:
- Preparing; or
- Producing using chemical synthesis or chemical extraction.
Are There Possible Immigration Consequences?
If a drug crime results in a felony conviction, it may have a detrimental effect on an individual’s immigration status if they are not a United States citizen. For example, a conviction for the offense of drug trafficking may make the individual subject to immediate removal from the country.
A history of similar drug convictions may make the individual ineligible for entry into the United States and ineligible to apply for U.S. citizenship.
Should I Talk to an Attorney?
If you have any issues, questions, or concerns related to drugs in the Los Angeles area, it is in your best interests to consult with a Los Angeles, CA, drug attorney. Your attorney can advise you regarding the legality of certain substances, such as marijuana, and when and if you may be able to use them.
If you have been charged with a drug crime, it is essential to consult with an attorney about any drug charges you face in Los Angeles. This is especially important if you are not currently a United States citizen.