When Jesús Cordero was arrested for possessing the drug Ecstasy, his criminal defenseattorney suggested that Cordero should plead guilty and attend drug counseling sessions. After counseling was completed, the charge would be dropped. In California, it’s an option that many charged with minor drug crimes choose. But for Cordero, who was living in the United States without documentation, a guilty plea for a drug crime could mean deportation, a harsh penalty for a minor crime. If you are charged with a drug crime in the Los Angeles area, speak at once with an experienced Los Angeles drug crimes attorney before you admit any guilt or agree to any plea bargain.
Minor drug offenders like Cordero may be about to obtain some relief from these penalties. Lawmakers in Sacramento, California this year are considering legislation that would shield immigrants from deportation for minor drug crimes. Although California entirely erases minor drug charges when a defendant completes treatment, the convictions still stand under federal immigration law. And it doesn’t matter if you are undocumented or if you hold a green card – a conviction can trigger deportation proceedings. Under the new proposal, anyone charged with minor drug possession crimes could opt for treatment before entering a plea. If the person completes treatment, he or she does not have to enter a plea, and no formal conviction is recorded anywhere. Those failing to complete treatment or counseling would face a charge for the drug crime – and if convicted, they would face the consequences. The option would not be offered to anyone with prior convictions for drug sales or for violent or serious felonies.
The bill’s author, Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman of Stockton, told the Los Angeles Times, “For those who want to get treatment and get their life right, we should see that with open arms, not see it as a way of deporting somebody.” This bill has not been passed as of yet. For now, however, if you face any drug charge in the Los Angeles area, your best hope for justice is contacting an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible.
This bill, if passed, will help minor drug offenders avoid serious penalties that are currently handed down to those who are convicted. For example, possession of a controlled substance or simple possession of a stimulant are usually considered a misdemeanor under California law, but it is still punishable by up to one year in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Controlled substances include narcotics and other illegal drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and LSD. But, controlled substances also include prescription drugs that are taken without a doctor’s prescription, including hydrocodone, codeine and oxycodone, to name a few. Stimulants are defined as methamphetamines, GHB, ketamine, PCP and anabolic steroids, too. If you have been charged with any kind of drug possession charge in the Los Angeles area, contact an experienced Los Angeles drug crimes attorney as soon as possible to begin defending your rights and working towards the best possible outcome for your case.