Not all drugs are created the same and offer the same level of dangers to the user. That’s why California has different penalties for possession, distribution and other crimes based on the specific drug in question. One of the most popular drugs in San Diego is cocaine, which is why La Jolla drug lawyer Peter M. Liss feels the public should know more about some of the most frequently charged crimes related the use of cocaine.
Cocaine Possession Laws
California has two levels of possession charges: those for personal use and those for sale. We already discussed how there is no set amount of drug possession that defines possession for personal use vs. possession for sale, so if you are charged with possession of cocaine for sale, your Del Mar drug attorney can help you fight the charges by arguing that you possess a lot of cocaine simply because you use a lot of it or because you were trying to save money by buying in bulk. This is a notably good defense given that possession of cocaine for personal use is only a misdemeanor with a possible sentence of no more than one year, whereas possession for sale can carry a sentence of up to four years.
Cocaine Sale or Distribution
If there is actual evidence you were selling drugs aside from simply the quantity of drugs you possessed, you could be charged with sale or distribution of a controlled substance. Even if you gave the drug away for free, you can be charged with this crime. You can also be charged for attempting to distribute the drug even if you were unsuccessful in attempting to share or sell cocaine. It’s important to not attempt to defend yourself if you have been accused of this crime because it can be very easy to say something that can actually further incriminate you. Always refuse to speak to the police without your Solana Beach criminal lawyer present.
If you have been charged with selling or distributing cocaine, you can face 2-5 years in prison, but if the buyer or recipient was a minor, if you sold within 1000 yards of a school, or sold the drug in public, you can face more serious penalties. In some cases, you could face up to 9 years in prison.
It’s worth knowing that even transporting cocaine for the purpose of selling carries the same penalties as actual sales charges, up to five years prison. Transporting cocaine to a noncontinuous county carries up to 9 years, meaning that going from L.A. to San Diego with enough cocaine in your car to sell, for example, can get you 9 years in prison.
While there is no set limit to define whether something qualifies as simple possession or possession for sale, if you have a particularly high quantity of cocaine in your possession, you could face additional sentencing on top of whatever other sentence you are given. For example, if you have more than 1 kg, you can face an additional 3 years, and more than 80 kg can result in 25 years!
This is not a separate charge, so if you are found innocent of the possession or sales charge, you will not face these enhancements. It is also worth noting that this enhancement is based on weight, so it doesn’t matter if you possessed 1 kg of nearly 100% cocaine or 1 kg cocaine that was cut down to only 10% purity, you will face the same penalty.
Cocaine Paraphernalia Laws
Cocaine paraphernalia could include snorting spoons, storage vials, crack pipes and more. Paraphernalia can also include products used for the purposes of selling the drug if you have been suspected of cocaine sales. This could include scales, sifters, small bags and more. Possession of paraphernalia itself is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in prison. If you have paraphernalia on top of being in possession of the drug, the prosecution will also be able to use this as additional evidence against you.
Other Cocaine Laws
If you were in possession of a gun when arrested with cocaine, you can face a separate crime for carrying a gun and drugs. The gun must have been loaded at the time, but if it was, you could face an additional 2-4 years in prison.
Using cocaine while driving is a crime, similar to driving while using methamphetamine. You can even be charged with driving while addicted to drugs if you are not on the drug at the time, but still demonstrating symptoms related to cocaine addiction.
Even if you didn’t use drugs, but helped someone else use it, you could be charged with a crime.
If you have been accused of any crime related to cocaine use, sale, distribution or paraphernalia, contact a top Carmel Valley drug lawyer as soon as possible. You can schedule a free initial consultation by calling (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024.
Creative Commons Image by Valerie Everett