Federal Drug Crimes

Los Angeles Federal Drug Crime Lawyer

Types of Drug Crimes in California

Due to its size and relative proximity to the border, the city of Los Angeles has constantly battled the rise of drug crimes in the area. The California Health and Safety Code explicitly outlaws any act that has to do with substances listed under any schedule of the Controlled Substances Act. This act was passed in 1971 as a means of discouraging drug crimes and punishing them according to the type, amount, and severity of the drug in question.

Below are the most common federal drug crimes in Los Angeles:

  • Drug Cultivation: The California Health & Safety Code outlaws the cultivation of marijuana. The only exception is the cultivation of medical marijuana by a registered dispensary or user for legitimate use.
  • Drug Manufacturing: Creating any type of illegal substance is illegal under California Health & Safety code and could result in high fines and time in jail or prison, depending on the amount in question and the severity level of the drug.
  • Drug Smuggling: One of the main causes of federal involvement in drug crimes is when an offender attempts to smuggle large quantities of marijuana or narcotics across state lines, out of the country, or into the United States.
  • Drug Trafficking: Transporting illegal substances in any way for the purpose of distribution or sale is known as drug trafficking. This can be performed from person to person, or using vehicles and other larger forms of transportation.

Criminal Penalties for Federal Drug Crimes

Federal criminal penalties for drug trafficking, manufacturing/cultivation, smuggling, and related offenses can vary depending on various factors including the type and quantity of drugs involved, prior criminal history, and aggravating circumstances.

Here are the common types of federal criminal penalties for these offenses:

  • Imprisonment: Federal drug offenses often carry significant prison sentences. The length of imprisonment depends on the type and quantity of drugs involved. For example, trafficking larger quantities of drugs typically results in longer sentences.
  • Fines: Convicted individuals may be ordered to pay fines as part of their sentence. The amount of the fine can vary widely depending on the specifics of the offense.
  • Asset Forfeiture: In drug cases, the government may seek to seize assets that are believed to be connected to the illegal drug activity. This can include money, vehicles, real estate, and other property.
  • Mandatory Minimum Sentences: Some drug offenses carry mandatory minimum sentences, meaning that judges must impose a certain minimum term of imprisonment upon conviction. These minimums are often based on the type and quantity of drugs involved and can be quite severe.
  • Enhanced Penalties for Prior Offenses: Individuals with prior drug convictions may face enhanced penalties for subsequent offenses. These enhancements can result in longer prison sentences and higher fines.

Legal Defenses Against Federal Drug Charges

Legal defenses to federal drug crimes aim to challenge the prosecution's case or mitigate the defendant's culpability. Here are some common defenses:

  • Lack of Possession: If the defendant did not possess the drugs in question, either actual possession (having physical control over the drugs) or constructive possession (having control over the area where the drugs were found), they may argue lack of possession as a defense.
  • Illegal Search and Seizure: The Fourth Amendment protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures by law enforcement. If evidence was obtained through an illegal search or seizure, it may be suppressed from trial through a motion to suppress, weakening the prosecution's case.
  • Entrapment: Entrapment occurs when law enforcement induces someone to commit a crime they would not have otherwise committed. If the defendant can show that they were persuaded or coerced by law enforcement to commit the drug offense, they may have a valid defense of entrapment.
  • Lack of Knowledge: If the defendant can demonstrate that they were unaware of the presence or nature of the drugs, they may argue lack of knowledge as a defense. This defense is particularly relevant in cases of constructive possession, where multiple people may have access to the area where drugs are found.
  • Duress: If the defendant committed the drug offense under duress or threat of harm, they may have a valid defense. The defendant must show that they reasonably believed they faced imminent danger or harm if they did not commit the offense.
  • Illegal Police Conduct: Apart from illegal search and seizure, if law enforcement engaged in other illegal conduct, such as fabrication of evidence or coercion, the defendant may use this as a defense.
  • Medical Necessity: In rare cases involving medicinal marijuana or other drugs, a defendant may argue that their actions were necessary to alleviate a serious medical condition. This defense requires medical evidence supporting the necessity of the drug use.
  • Violation of Constitutional Rights: Defendants may argue that their constitutional rights were violated during the arrest, interrogation, or trial process, leading to an unfair trial or conviction.
  • Insufficient Evidence: If the prosecution fails to provide sufficient evidence to prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant may argue for acquittal.
  • Alibi: If the defendant can prove that they were elsewhere at the time the alleged offense occurred, they may present an alibi defense.

Why Hire a Federal Drug Crime Attorney?

When you are falsely accused of committing a drug crime, you risk the chance of being wrongfully convicted for a serious crime. Federal offenses inevitably incur high fines, often into thousands of dollars, as well as months in jail or prison. Consult with a Los Angeles federal drug crime lawyer today if you need counsel and defense. With the experienced and aggressive representation of an attorney from Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP your charges could be reduced or even dismissed entirely. Our firm has a history of success, so call now to learn what we could do for you if you've been arrested for a drug crime.

Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP has received the highest possible ratings from both Avvo® and Martindale-Hubbell®. Call our offices today at (800) 462-7160 to schedule a consultation appointment so that you could learn exactly what we could do to help. You'll need an aggressive and experienced attorney by your side when fighting federal charges of a drug crime, so contact a Los Angeles federal drug crime lawyer today!

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