For most people, drug trafficking sounds like the large-scale operations depicted in media. In reality, crossing the street with drugs in your pocket can similarly attract drug trafficking penalties in California. A Los Angeles criminal defense attorney can enlighten you on the legal implication of a drug crime.
The penalties of the offense can change the quality of your life for good. Convicts risk losing their freedom for months, years, or a lifetime depending on the nature of their crime. Additionally, your immigration status, education, and future employment might take the blow also.
What Can Attract Drug Trafficking Penalties Under State Laws?
Drug trafficking in California is basically the sale and transportation of any controlled substance. You might face very serious penalties if you are found:
- Importing it to California
- Transporting it for sale
- Giving it away
- Administering it to another person
- Furnishing it
- Selling it
However, for the transportation to amount to a criminal offense, the prosecution must prove that:
- You were aware that it is a controlled substance
- You were aware of the drug’s presence
- It was a “usable amount” of the controlled substance
Remember that drug trafficking under California laws is not limited to large amounts only. You could be on foot, bicycle, or vehicle. Even selling a small amount to a friend can cost you your freedom.
What Types of Drugs in California Come with Drug Trafficking Penalties?
Knowing the drugs outlawed in California is critical in knowing whether you have a trafficking case or not. And the Health & Safety Code 11352 forbids you from transporting or selling:
- Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB)
- Certain prescription drugs such as hydrocodone (Vicodin) and oxycodone (Oxycontin)
The list of drugs prohibited in California is not limited to the ones named above. Moreover, note that not all controlled drugs are listed under HS 1152. For instance, methamphetamine and marijuana are outlawed in different California legal codes.
How is Drug Trafficking Punished Under California State Laws?
In California, drug trafficking is serious enough to be a felony. A conviction can attract:
- Fines as high as $20,000
- 3-9 years in jail
The penalties can be higher than those listed above if aggravating factors are involved in the drug trafficking case. You can expect additional punishment if:
- The drug trafficking occurred near a drug treatment facility
- You sold them to a minor
- You sold certain amounts of controlled substances
- You sold it to someone previously convicted of a felony, someone with a mental health disorder, or a pregnant woman
On top of the initial penalties, aggravating factors might give you additional:
- Fine of up to $20,000
- 3-5 years in jail
- Felony probation
Other less-talked about penalties that can impact your professional and personal life include:
- Difficulty retaining or receiving custody of your children
- Ban from owning firearms lasting up to 10 years
- Difficulty getting federal-backed financial aid if you join college
- Denial of visa or immigration application for non-citizens
- A permanent drug offender felony record even after completing your sentence
- Revocation or suspension of professional licenses
What Can Attract Drug Trafficking Penalties Under Federal Laws?
Most drug trafficking offenses are handled under state laws. However, federal authorities might get involved in the following circumstances:
- If they suspect trafficking of large amounts of methamphetamine
- If they suspect you are trafficking the drugs beyond your state’s borderline or across the national borders
- If the drug trafficking takes place in an area with increased federal surveillance, following increased drug-related activities
If federal officers arrest you for drug-related activities, harsh penalties await you if you are convicted. But if you move with speed, a Los Angeles drug crimes lawyer can guide you on how to best fight those charges.
How is Drug Trafficking Punished Under Federal Law?
Sentencing under federal laws is dependent on several factors. The judge’s decision could be based on:
- Whether death or injuries occurred as a result of the controlled substance
- The quantity of drugs involved in the trafficking
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the drug trafficking incident, the jury might penalize you with anything between:
- $5 million to $20 million in fines
- Five years to life imprisonment
A conviction under federal law can cost you a lot. Therefore, you should not gamble with your defense. Any attorney can promise to represent you, but it takes one with knowledge, experience, and skills to get you the most favorable outcome.
How Can I Defend Myself Against Drug Trafficking Penalties?
A drug trafficking charge doesn’t always end in a conviction. Especially if your Los Angeles drug crimes lawyer uses the right legal strategy to defend you. They could argue that:
- You were a victim of entrapment or other forms of police misconduct
- The drugs were not intended for sale but for personal use; which is a lesser offense
- Your intentions to transport or sell drugs were misunderstood
- You lacked knowledge
A successful defense depends on the incident and your drug crimes attorney’s skill in convincing the judge about the possibilities of your situation. A good defense produces better outcomes.
How is an Attorney Instrumental for My Trafficking Case?
Sometimes, a conviction for drug trafficking might be unavoidable. But if you hire a skilled Los Angeles drug crimes lawyer, they can negotiate with the prosecutor and obtain a good plea bargain.
Alternatively, they can find out if mitigating factors apply to your case and ensure you get lower penalties. If you are charged under California state laws, your defense attorney can also help you get alternative sentencing.
An Aggressive Legal Representative Fighting for Your Best Interests
Your life can change with a single drug trafficking conviction. And you might never live life the same way after serving a lengthy jail sentence because of the consequences that come with it. However, a seasoned criminal defense attorney in L.A. can fight for your rights all through.
The journey to a better outcome begins when you schedule the first consultation as soon as you are charged. Talk to the attorneys at Miranda Law Firm today to get started.