While recreational marijuana use may have recently been made legal in California, drug offenses are still a problem in Los Angeles and across the state. Recently it was reported that Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy Kenneth Collins was charged with operating a large-scale drug trafficking scheme along with three others who were arrested by FBI agents during a sting operation; he had been under investigation by agents for several months due to suspicions he was dealing in drugs.
Possession and sales of illicit drugs and narcotics is a huge problem in LA and surrounding areas. In fact, given the opioid epidemic it’s a growing problem across the nation. From oxycodone, fentanyl and cocaine to heroin, methamphetamine and other substances, people are finding themselves facing criminal charges that could result in punishment including a few months in jail to years or even decades behind prison bars depending on the person’s criminal history, type and amount of drug involved and other factors.
In December a Riverside couple was charged with three counts of possession of a controlled substance for sale and possession of drug paraphernalia after they were allegedly selling methamphetamine from their home and using a drone to deliver the illegal substance. News reports also stated unpackaged powders believed to contain fentanyl were discovered at the home.
These cases may be high profile because of unusual circumstances, however people are arrested every day for the illegal possession and sale of drugs. In most instances a person found in possession of a controlled substance such as heroin, cocaine, meth or ecstasy will face felony charges. It’s also important to note the drugs do not have to be on an individual’s person in order to for that person to be charged with a drug crime. Possession may occur when drugs are discovered in a handbag, vehicle, or in the suspect’s home.
What may seem at first to be possession could end up being a charge of possession for sale if it is determined the amount of drug someone is in possession of is more than what would be considered typical or “normal” for personal use. Other indicators that tip off investigators in a drug case include whether there are materials found that indicate drugs are being packaged for sale, scales, baggies, and other paraphernalia.
The punishment for those found guilty of a possession for sale charge are serious and may include between two and four years in prison, a fine of up to $20,000 and even deportation for those who are not a U.S. citizen. In some instances the penalties may be even more severe, for example cases involving heroin or cocaine. There are several factors considered when determining punishment including whether the defendant has a prior drug conviction.
Anyone found guilty of possession of drugs or possession for sale (possession with intent to sell) will have a criminal record that’s available for the whole world to see. This has a negative impact on every aspect of your life when you do complete sentencing. A criminal record makes it hard to obtain housing, find employment and more as most landlords and employers will run a background check. When they see you have a criminal record, the odds of getting a job or renting a house or apartment plunge.
It’s important to realize that even when you’ve been arrested for a drug offense you have rights. You have the right to remain silent; you do not have to answer questions when interrogated by police, and in fact you should ask for your attorney before answering ANY questions. When your freedom and future may be in jeopardy, the first step you should take is to consult with an experienced Los Angeles drug crimes attorney.