Drug Offenses

California has some of the nation’s most severe drug laws.  Programs like DARE and the Foundation for a Drug Free World lead to an increase in awareness of drug addiction and also a dramatic increase in punishment for drug offenses in California.

If you are accused of a drug crime, the punishment can range from a lengthy prison sentence to no jail time at all, depending on the circumstances of your case and the defense attorney representing you. In many drug cases, the punishment is disproportionate to the offense. If you have been charged with being under the influence; possession; manufacturing; or sales of prescription pills, marijuana, ecstasy, methamphetamine, heroin, or any other illegal substance then you may be facing serious time in jail or prison. Felony drug convictions—even for non-violent offenses—may be counted as “strikes” under California’s Three Strikes Law.

You must have a lawyer who is highly familiar with all aspects of California law and who represents criminal defendants in drug cases with expertise.  An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you fight the charges and get the best outcome possible.  Attorney Thomas Greenberg takes drug charges seriously.  If the police violated your right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, entrapped you, relied on unreliable informants, or exaggerated in the police report, attorney Thomas Greenberg will hold them to it.

Some of the typical cases we handle are:

  • Health & Safety Code 11350 – Possession of Cocaine or Other Controlled Substance: HS 11350 makes it a felony to possess drugs such as cocaine, crack, heroin, ecstasy, ketamine, GHB and prescription drugs that are identified as controlled substances, such as Vicodin or Codeine, without a lawful prescription.  A conviction of HS 11350 is punishable by up to one year in county jail or state prison, plus a fine.  Most people accused of this crime are eligible for Prop 36 or PC 1000 drug diversion.
  • Health & Safety Code 11351 – Possession or Purchase for Sale: HS 11351 makes it a felony to possess illegal drugs for the purpose of selling them. This crime is more serious than simple possession:  it can be punished by two, three, or four years in state prison and may count as a strike under California’s Three Strikes Law.  Police and prosecutors may charge violation of HS 11351 where they have found a larger quantity of drugs, paraphernalia, large amounts of cash, or where drugs are packaged in a certain manner, however, there may be alternative explanations for such evidence.  HS 11351 defendants do not qualify for Proposition 36 or PC 1000 drug diversion.
  • Health & Safety Code 11352 – Sales and Transportation of Controlled Substances: HS 11352 makes it a felony to transport, import into the state, sell, furnish, administer, give away, or offer to do any of the acts listed above. The penalty for this crime is several years in prison.
  • Health & Safety Code 11357– Possession of Marijuana for Personal Use: HS 11357 prohibits possessing marijuana for personal use, except as authorized by law.  As of January 1, 2011, possession of up to one ounce or 28.5 grams of marijuana (other than concentrated cannabis), is an infraction and punishable by a maximum fine of $100, as long as the marijuana was not possessed on school grounds while the school was open for classes or school-related activities; in addition, for defendants under 21, their driver’s license may be suspended.  Conviction for possessing more than ounce of marijuana is punishable by up to six months in county jail and a maximum fine of $500.  Possession of concentrated cannabis is a “wobbler” and may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the facts of the case and the defendant’s criminal history.  A felony conviction may result in 16 months, or two or three years in state prison. HS 11357 is an offense that qualifies for drug diversion under California’s Prop 36 and Penal Code 1000, as long as the charge is for nonviolent personal possession and the defendant meets the other eligibility requirements.
  • Health & Safety Code 11358 – Unauthorized Cultivation, Harvesting, or Processing of Marijuana: Health & Safety Code 11358 prohibits all acts associated with growing and manufacturing pot.  Growing just one plant can be prosecuted as a felony, punishable by up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine.  HS 11359, marijuana possession with intent to sell, is often charged in addition.  HS 11358 can often be reduced to simple possession (HS 11357) or dismissed altogether.  Possessing a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana or a Medical Marijuana ID card may help in your defense, but it might not be enough.  You probably will have to go further to show that you intended to use the marijuana only for personal use, or that the police conducted an illegal search.
  • Health & Safety Code 11359 – Possession of Marijuana for Sale: HS 11359 makes it a felony to possess marijuana with the intent to sell it.  HS 11359 is punishable by up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine.  An HS 11359 conviction depends on the prosecutor’s ability to prove intent to sell, but intent to sell is vaguely defined and is often hard for the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • Health & Safety Code 11360 – Possession of Marijuana for Sale: HS 11360(a) makes it a felony to transport, import, sell, furnish, administer, or give away marijuana.  A conviction for HS 11360(a) is punishable by two, three, or four years in prison. If the amount of marijuana is less than one ounce (28.5 grams), HS 11360(b) makes it a misdemeanor to give away, offer to give away, transport, or offer to transport this amount, other than concentrated cannabis.  HS 11360(b) is punishable by a fine of not more than $100.
  • Health & Safety Code 11364 – Possession of Illegal Drug Paraphernalia: HS 11364 makes it a misdemeanor to possess an opium pipe or any device or paraphernalia used for unlawfully injecting or smoking a controlled substance.  A conviction for HS 11364 is punishable by up to six months in county jail but a HS 11364 charge is usually eligible for a pre-trial or post-trial diversion under PC 1000 or Proposition 36 (see below).
  • Health & Safety Code 11377 – Possession of Methamphetamine or Other Controlled Substance:  Personal possession of methamphetamine, ecstasy, and other controlled substances is punishable as either a misdemeanor of felony under HS 11377. The prosecutor will decide whether to prosecute the charge as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the facts of your case (the amount of drugs found in your possession, how they were packaged, etc.) and your criminal history.  Misdemeanor personal possession is punishable by up to a year in county jail and a $1,000 fine.  A felony conviction can be punishable by up to three years in state prison and a $10,000 fine.  If you have been charged with HS 11377 you may qualify for a pretrial or post-trial drug diversion program under Proposition 36 or PC 1000
  • Health & Safety Code 11379 – Transportation, Sale, Furnishing, etc. of Methamphetamine or Other Controlled Substance: HS 11379 makes it a felony to transport, sell, or furnish methamphetamine or other controlled substances.
  • Health & Safety Code 11550 – Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance: HS 11550 makes it a misdemeanor to be under the influence of a controlled substance such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, ecstasy, GHB, or prescription drugs without a valid prescription.  A conviction for HS 11550, whether by plea or trial, is punishable by a mandatory minimum penalty of 90 days in county jail
  • Business & Professions Code 4060 – Possession of Prescription Pills without a prescription: BP 4060 makes it a misdemeanor to possess prescription drugs without a prescription or a license.
  • Vehicle Code 23222(b) – Driving in Possession of Marijuana: Possession of up to one ounce of marijuana may be charged as a misdemeanor crime, punishable by up to a $100 fine plus court costs.  If you have a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana, or a state issued medical marijuana card, this can be helpful to your defense.  You may also be able to argue that the marijuana did not belong to you or that the pot was discovered during an illegal search.

Deferred Entry of Judgment and Pre- and Post-trial Diversion

If this is your first, non-violent offense, California law provides for drug court or diversion in many cases. This is an opportunity for you to have your case dismissed and your record cleared. If you successfully complete one of these programs, the court will actually dismiss your case. However, only simple drug possession cases under the influence, and a few others are permitted the alternative of a drug diversion or drug rehabilitation program. By law, sales and transportation cases are not eligible for these programs. Prosecutors are aware of these laws and will often bring sales or transportation charges for which the accused is not program eligible.

For violations of certain specified drug crimes, a defendant may be eligible to participate in a deferred entry of judgment program pursuant to penal code section 1000 (commonly referred to as PC 1000). Deferred entry of judgment allows you to enter a guilty plea, but defers entry of the judgment pending your successful completion of a drug program. To be eligible, the offense must have not involved violence, you must not have any prior drug convictions, and you must meet a few additional requirements as well.

Pretrial Diversion programs suspend criminal proceedings pending drug treatment or other diversion program (traffic school, parenting classes, AIDS prevention program, etc.).  Upon successful completion of a diversion program, the criminal charges against you are dismissed. If you do not successfully complete the diversion program, criminal proceedings resume.

Proposition 36 Post-conviction Drug Treatment: Proposition 36 mandates probation and drug treatment for a qualified defendant convicted of a “nonviolent drug possession offense.” The difference between Prop 36 drug treatment and pre-trial diversion is that Prop 36 treatment comes after you have been convicted, either by plea or trial, but if you successfully complete the conditions of your sentence the conviction will be dismissed automatically. Under Prop 36, the court may require you to maintain employment, attend school, pay fees and fines, clean drug results, etc.

Hire an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

Under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, if your arrest or detention was the result of an illegal search, you may be entitled to have your case dismissed. The district attorney has the burden to prove that the arresting officer’s conduct was lawful. You are innocent unless proven otherwise. Drug possession attorney Thomas Greenberg has had many drug cases dismissed due to his discovery of unlawful police conduct.

Hiring an experienced attorney can mean the difference between serving time in prison and having your case dismissed. An attorney may be able to negotiate to have the more serious charges dropped in order to allow the person to enroll in a program and ultimately have their case dismissed. San Mateo criminal defense attorney Thomas Greenberg has handled literally thousands of drug cases with great success. If you have been arrested for possession, paraphernalia, sales, transportation, manufacturing, transportation for sale, money laundering, or drug trafficking, criminal defense attorney Thomas Greenberg is fully prepared to help.