Articles Posted in Drug Offenses

Published on:

In November 2014, California voters decided that the state’s classification of some crimes as felonies was overly harsh and needed to be changed. The voters passed Proposition 47 (also known as the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act”) to reduce the penalties for certain drug and theft crimes.

There law changed the way these crimes are charged. Due to the change, those that have prior convictions for certain crimes are allowed to bring a motion before the court to have those felony convictions reduced to misdemeanors on their criminal record. Also, those persons currently serving a prison or jail sentence due to convictions for certain felony crimes can request the court in a formal motion to reduce their conviction to a misdemeanor and ask that their sentence be reduced or eliminated completely.

This new law has now been in effect for more than one year. Los Angeles County officials have determined that many persons who may qualify for reductions due to their prior crimes are not coming forth to take advantage of the benefits under this new law.

Two Task Forces for Two Goals

Clear Record Prop 47Under Prop 47, the deadline to apply for a reduction of a current or past criminal conviction is November 5, 2017; just three years after it became law. One of the goals of the law is to clean up the records of many people with non-violent drug and petty theft felonies.

If you have a felony on your record, you probably already know how difficult it can be to convince an employer to hire you. Reducing a felony to a misdemeanor is a major step toward getting your conviction expunged from your record, which can open up many employment and housing opportunities that you may not have had with a felony on your record.

With that in mind, Los Angeles County supervisors voted to create a task force of county officials from criminal justice and social service agencies. This group will determine how many people are eligible to reduce their convictions in Los Angeles County. They will form a plan to reach those individuals who have not yet applied. The goal is to find as many people as possible to ensure that a large and untapped workforce has an easier path to becoming productive members of society.

Continue reading →

Published on:

SB 333 is a proposed law being sent to Governor Brown that seeks to increase the current penalties against those possessing common date rape drugs. The bill’s supporters say that an unintended consequence of Proposition 47 was that it reduced the penalty for those who carried date rape drugs with the intent to commit sexual assault. If passed, the bill would make it a felony to posses date rape drugs if you have the intent to commit rape or sexual assault.1

Proposition 47: A Reason to Pass SB 333

Prop 47 was a recent legislative effort that decreased penalties for non-violent drug offenses, including those possessing date rape drugs. What followed was the reclassification of many drug possession charges from felony offenses to misdemeanors.

Proponents of SB 333 think that Prop 47 left the government’s stance too weak against potential sexual predators who intend to use date rape drugs on victims. The legislature now seeks to close this loophole by allowing prosecutors to pursue felony charges against those arrested for possession of date rape drugs.

New Proposed Law Explained

date rape drugsSpecifically, if you’re found in possession of Rohypnol or ‘rufis’, GHB, or ketamine, and you have the intent to commit sexual assault, you can be charged with a felony.2 One problem with the proposed law’s policy is that some of these substances are used recreationally, thus making it more difficult to determine one’s actual motives. The prosecution would still have to be able to prove intent to commit sexual assault; however, prosecutors could use the new law to coerce you into accepting a plea deal even though you only intended to use such drug recreationally.

Violations of the proposed law would be punishable by 16 months to three years in prison.3 The new law is arguably duplicative considering that you can already be charged you with attempted sexual assault crimes (e.g. attempted rape or sexual assault), which carry harsher penalties.

If passed, the new law could be the first to erase the effects of Prop 47 and California’s efforts to reduce overly harsh punishments against non-violent drug offenders.

Continue reading →

Published on:

The legalization of marijuana is a constantly debated issue in California. Possessing marijuana for medicinal purposes can now be legal if you are licensed by a physician, but this has created uncertainty when it comes to other marijuana laws in California.

One such law involves the transportation of marijuana, and a recently passed bill clarifies what is required to convict you of the crime of marijuana transportation.

Does Transportation of Marijuana Require Intent to Sell?

Marijuana TransportationIn 2013, Assembly Bill 721 passed, amending Health and Safety Code 11352 and 11379 to provide that “transports” means to transport for the purpose of selling a drug, not just carrying it around. However, this law excluded the transportation of marijuana, PCP and psilocybin mushrooms.

Assembly Bill 730 was recently passed into law and will go into effect Jan. 1, 2016. The bill will revise Health and Safety Code Sections 11360, 11379.5 and 11391 to require the intent to sell in order for you to be convicted of a felony for transporting drugs. This means that beginning Jan. 1, 2016, you cannot be convicted of felony transportation of a controlled substance, marijuana, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, PCP or shrooms unless you had the intent to sell the drug.

Prior to this recent change in law, you could be charged with a felony for transportation of marijuana regardless if you had the intent to sell the drug. You could be charged with this crime simply for carrying a usable amount of marijuana and having the knowledge that you were carrying it. It did not matter if you were planning to use the drug for your personal use or how much of the drug you had on you.

Continue reading →

Published on:

LEAD program diversionLaw Enforcement Assisted Diversion (or LEAD) is a growing pilot diversionary program originally implemented in Seattle and now being used by some California counties. Established in 2011, the program was developed as an innovative solution to drug- and prostitution-related crimes. Criminalization and imprisonment are increasingly seen as inappropriate responses for these non-violent, low-level crimes.

Between the years 1990 and 2008, over 85,000 bookings were made for drug offenses in Seattle alone.1 As a result, experimental diversionary initiatives such as LEAD have been enacted as possible alternatives.

LEAD, with private funding totaling $4 million, was a pilot experiment in which 203 voluntary participants were selected randomly over a period of four years. The program was offered to arrested people who:

  • were not carrying over 3 grams of illegal drugs,
  • had no history of violent crimes, and
  • were not involved in promoting prostitution or exploiting minors within an organized drug enterprise.2

What are Diversion Programs and What Makes LEAD Different?

If you are arrested for a drug possession charge, entering a diversion program may be in your best interest. These programs seek to more effectively reduce the negative social and individual effects which are connected with drugs, such as homelessness and disease. Rather than criminalize drug addiction, diversion programs use a “harm reduction” strategy in which placement in social programs replaces incarceration for those convicted of these crimes.3

There are two main types of diversionary programs: pre-booking and post-booking. A pre-booking program occurs before you are arrested or formally charged, while post-booking occurs after charges are filed.4

Continue reading →

Published on:

A hallucinatory drug has been rising in popularity since the ban of bath salts. Reports say the drug, called Flakka, can cause users to experience super-human strength, euphoria and “excited delirium.” How popular is this high-powered drug? The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reports a 780 percent jump in the number of Flakka cases reported across the country over the last three years.

What are the Effects of Flakka?

Effects of FlakkaFlakka, also known as gravel because of its crystal appearance, can be smoked, snorted, injected and even swallowed. The main ingredient of the drug is alpha-PVP, a variant of the same drug used to make bath salts.

According to reports, Flakka gives users an inexpensive, lengthy high. It works by causing a flood of dopamine, the feel-good hormone, to the brain and preventing the transmitters from being able to block the hormone. The drug can also cause the user to experience psychosis, adrenaline-fueled strength and dangerously high temperatures of 105 degrees or more.

Continue reading →

Published on:

Since it passed in November, Proposition 47 has changed a lot more than just the sentences for some low-level, non-violent offenders. It also has changed how law enforcement officers view some crimes and how long some criminal offenders stay in prison, according to a recent report by the LA Times.

Prop 47 reduces some crimes from felonies and wobblers to misdemeanors, which significantly reduces the maximum penalties for these crimes. Prop 47 has already decreased prison and jail populations across the state.

Prop 47 Reduces Some Felony Crimes to Misdemeanor Offenses

Prop 47 ArrestsWhile the resentencing of felony and wobbler crimes to misdemeanor offenses has significantly reduced the number of offenders behind bars, the law has also reduced the number of people being arrested for narcotics, possession, and simple theft crimes. According to the LA Times, drug-related arrests by the LA County Sheriff’s Office have decreased by 30% since Prop 47 passed, and bookings have gone down about 23%.1

At least part of the reason for this decrease in arrests is that police officers are focusing on more serious crimes and putting less focus on arresting low-level offenders. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has instructed officers to continue to pursue drug offenders as they have in the past even though simple possession of a drug for personal use has in most circumstances become a misdemeanor offense. Now, police officers simply are issuing a citation to appear in court instead of arresting drug offenders and taking them to jail.

Continue reading →

Published on:

**Update: After the passing of Proposition 47, a misdemeanor charge for personal possession of cocaine is punishable by a maximum of one year in county jail.**

The federal Anti-Drug Use Act of 1986 created separate sentencing guidelines for crimes involving crack cocaine and powder cocaine. California adopted the same sentences a year later, resulting in crimes involving crack being sentenced 100 times harsher than crimes involving powder cocaine. Under the law, it takes one-tenth the amount of crack cocaine to trigger the same strict sentences as powder cocaine. 1 Possession%20of%20Drugs%20for%20Sale%202.jpg

In an effort to reduce severe prison overcrowding, California is rethinking overly harsh criminal sentencing, especially for nonviolent crimes such as drug offenses. The California State Senate recently gave initial approval to Senate Bill 1010, which would reduce penalties for possessing crack cocaine for sale so they would match the punishment for crimes involving powder cocaine. 2

The bill will soon be voted on by the California State Assembly. If passed, it will then go before the governor for final approval. 3

Reducing Penalties for Possessing Crack Cocaine for Sale (Senate Bill 1010)

Under California Health and Safety Code Section 11352, possession of crack cocaine with the intent to sell is currently punishable by three, four or five years in county jail and a fine of up to $20,000.

Introduced by State Senator Holly Mitchell, Senate Bill 1010 would reduce the penalties for possession of crack cocaine (also known as cocaine base) for sale to equal the penalties for possession of powder cocaine. If passed, sentencing for those convicted of possessing cocaine base for sale would be reduced to two, three or four years in county jail. 4

The proposed bill would also make it easier for anyone convicted of either of these possession of cocaine offenses to obtain probation in lieu of jail time.

Why Pass Senate Bill 1010?

Supporters of Senate Bill 1010 argue that California’s current laws have led to institutional racism, citing state statistics that show African Americans are imprisoned for possession of crack cocaine for sale at a rate of 43 times more than whites. Since the sentencing guidelines were adopted in the late 1980s, cocaine base has been associated more with African Americans in urban neighborhoods, while powder cocaine has been more popular among wealthy and middle-class whites. 5

According to supporters of SB 1010, sentencing guidelines have led to a culture of rehabilitation amongst whites who possessed powder cocaine and arrest and punishment for blacks who possessed crack cocaine. The Journal of the American Medical Association said the two forms of cocaine have essentially the same effects on the human body. 6

Should Penalties for Selling Crack Cocaine and Powder Cocaine Be Equal?

What do you think about California’s proposed new bill? Should possession of crack cocaine for sale carry the same punishment as possession of powder cocaine for sale? Do sentencing guidelines for crack cocaine promote racism? Should California pass Senate Bill 1010 into law?

Wallin & Klarich would like to hear your opinion on this matter. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

1. [http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-cocaine-crack-and-powder-sentencing-disparit-20140811-story.html]
2. [Bills on crack cocaine, medicinal pot advance in California, May 28, 2014, http://touch.latimes.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-80341482/]
3. [Id.]
4. [Id.]
5. [Id.]
6. [Id.]

Published on:

More than 46,000 federal drug offenders could be eligible for sentence reductions after the U.S. Sentencing Commission recently approved a plan to extend federal drug sentencing guidelines to current inmates. 1 Possession%20-%20Transportation%20of%20Drugs%20for%20Sale.jpg

Prisoners who are eligible for sentence reductions will not be released until November 2015, giving judges the time necessary to review candidates and allow prosecutors to object if there are concerns about any inmates. 2

The commission’s unanimous vote follows a decision made in April to amend sentencing guidelines in some federal drug cases involving non-violent drug offenders. Those new guidelines will now extend to thousands of inmates currently serving time in federal prison due to drug crime convictions. 3

Sentence reductions for non-violent drug offenders will help condense the overcrowded federal prison system without harming public safety. The commission’s decision is a step towards ending decades-long efforts to punish drug crimes harshly.

How Will Sentence Reductions Affect You?

Federal judges in California will be able to begin reviewing eligible cases in November. Congress has until Nov. 1 to reject the measure, but they are not expected to reverse the decision. 4

According to the Daily Journal, there are more than 2,500 estimated federal drug offenders currently serving time in the California prison system that may be eligible for sentence reductions. Sentences for non-violent drug offenders will be reduced by two years, allowing many of the eligible inmates to be released. 5

Delaying reductions by a year will allow for any public safety concerns about eligible inmates to be addressed and give convicted drug offenders time to apply for sentence reductions. The Federal Bureau of Prisons will begin notifying inmates about the application process.

Despite the large number of eligible cases, reviews of federal drug offenders are not likely to overwhelm defense attorneys, prosecutors and judges. Much of the work involved has already taken place, including evaluating the inmates criminal history and determining a sentence. However, a small number of cases are expected to require an additional investigation by attorneys and judges, such as cases in which the prosecutor no longer works for the U.S. attorney’s office.

Are You Eligible for a Sentence Reduction?

If you or a loved one is currently serving time in jail for a federal drug offense, you need to contact an experienced federal defense attorney immediately to discuss eligibility for sentence reductions. You may be able to be released from prison and reunite with your family earlier than expected.

At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled federal attorneys have been successfully helping our clients with federal drug crime matters for over 30 years. We can help guide you through the application process and give you the best chance to have your sentence reduced.

With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, our experienced federal defense attorneys are available to help you no matter where you work or live.

Call our offices today at (888) 280-6839 for a free telephone consultation. We will be there when you call.

1. [ http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/07/18/federal-drug-sentences-reduced/12842893/]
2. [http://www.activistpost.com/2014/07/us-sentencing-commission-votes.html#!bk9R1I]
3. [Id.]
4. [Id.]
5. [Id.]

Published on:

As has been reported by a number of media outlets nationally, L.A. County sheriff’s arrived at Justin Bieber’s Calabasas, Calif. home on Jan. 14 with 11 cop cars and a battering ram. Armed with a search warrant, Bieber’s home was being searched for evidence that could connect the pop star to the crime of felony vandalism.

Bieber’s Friend Arrested for Possession of Cocaine


During the search of the home, the cops encountered cocaine in “plain sight,” which was later linked to one of Bieber’s house guests and entourage members, Lil Za. Lil Za, whose real name is Xavier Smith, was arrested for suspicion of possession of a controlled substance (HS 11350 (a)) and was being held in lieu of $20,000 bail.

This is a serious crime and could lead to Smith doing jail time or, if he is very lucky, having to participate in a lengthy and expensive drug program. If you are arrested for possession of cocaine, you face up to three years in county jail or you can be placed on formal probation. However, you may be able to attend a drug diversion program in order to get the case dismissed.

Was Lil Za the Victim of Illegal Search and Seizure?

Whether what the police did in discovering the drugs during the search was legal or not will depend upon the specific circumstances of this case.

The cocaine was found in “plain sight,” meaning the officers could legally seize the drugs as evidence of a crime. However, it is not known how the police lawfully connected Smith to the cocaine.

Because the drugs were found in Bieber’s home, they could ask the District Attorney’s office to file drug charges against the 19-year-old star. For example, if drugs were found in Bieber’s private bedroom (night stand, private bathroom, etc), the D.A. could try to argue that Justin was in “constructive possession” of these drugs.

How the Southern California Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Can Help

If Smith retains an experienced criminal defense lawyer who knows what searches are legal and what searches are unlawful, he will stand a good chance of beating these possession of cocaine charges. The skilled criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 30 years of experience successfully defending persons accused of drug charges. If you are facing charges of a drug-related crime, we may be able to have the charges reduced or the case dismissed completely.

Wallin & Klarich will continue to follow the Justin Bieber incident along with the hundreds of media outlets who will be covering it. The major difference is that our lawyers know the law of criminal defense cold and can update everyone on what is likely to happen from a legal point of view.

If you are facing possession of cocaine charges or if you believe evidence being used against you may have been seized illegally, call our offices today at (888) 280-6839 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.

Published on:

Have you ever heard young people asking “Have you seen Molly?” You should know that they aren’t talking about the girl next door.

“Molly” is a street name for MDMA, short for 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine. There are a lot of slang terms for MDMA. “Ecstasy” and “Molly” are the most common. Molly, however, is supposed to be free of adulterants, such as caffeine or methamphetamine. You might also hear “E,” “XTC,” “X,” “Adam,” “hug,” “beans,” “clarity,” “lover’s speed,” and “love drug.”

Molly aka Ecstasy is the “in” Club Drug


Ecstasy is a very popular club drug. A “club drug” is a name given to a variety of recreational drugs that are typically found and used by partygoers to enhance their experiences at night clubs, “raves” (all-night dance parties), concerts and house parties. Club drugs generally provide a stimulating and hallucinogenic effect which makes many users feel euphoric.

Ecstasy users typically reach their peak “high” about an hour after swallowing or snorting the drug. Effects of ecstasy generally last between three to six hours.

Because there is no accepted medical use for ecstasy, its possession, sale or transportation is always illegal.

What is MDMA?

3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) is a controlled substance, a narcotic drug regulated under California and federal law. MDMA is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance, which means it has:

  • A high potential for abuse, and
  • No currently accepted medical use in the United States.

Simple Possession of Ecstasy or Molly in California (Health and Safety Code § 11377)

If the police arrest you for possessing ecstasy or Molly for personal use, you will be charged with “possession” of a controlled substance pursuant to Health and Safety Code Section 11377. This offense is a misdemeanor offense.

A misdemeanor conviction for possession for personal use of ecstasy in California is punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine up to $1,000.

In some cases, a person accused of a violation of possession of ecstasy (HS 11377) may be eligible to participate in a drug diversion program. If you successfully complete drug diversion, you are entitled to a dismissal of your possession charge.

Possession for Sale of Ecstasy or Molly in California (Health and Safety Code § 11378)

Possession with the intent to sell ecstasy is a felony. If you are convicted under California law, you can be sentenced to serve up to three years in jail and fined up to $10,000. Because this offense involves potential sales and not simply personal possession, you are not eligible for drug diversion.

Sales or Transportation of Molly or Ecstasy in California (Health and Safety Code § 11379)
Health and Safety Code Section 11379 makes sales or transportation of ecstasy a felony offense. If you are convicted of violating this California law, you face up to four years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both a fine and imprisonment. If you transport ecstasy across more than two counties, your sentence can increase to three, six or nine years in prison plus the same fine.

Drug Trafficking of Ecstasy under Federal Law (18 U.S.C. § 841)

If you possess large quantities of ecstasy and/or import or export the illegal drug across state lines or U.S. borders (also known as “drug trafficking”), you may attract the attention of federal authorities and be subject to prosecution by the United States government.

Drug trafficking of ecstasy is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison. If anyone is seriously injured or dies as a result of using the drug you face 20 years to life in prison.

Finally, a conviction for any ecstasy-related offense under either California or federal law could lead to your deportation or removal from the United States if you are not a U.S. citizen.

Wallin & Klarich Attorneys are Available 24/7 if You are Arrested on Drug Charges

If you or someone you know has been arrested for possession, sales, transportation or trafficking of MDMA, contact our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich immediately. Our attorneys are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help you. Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney from Wallin & Klarich could mean the difference between you serving a lengthy jail or prison sentence and a reduction or dismissal of your charges. Getting you the best possible result in your case is our only goal.

With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 30 years of experience defending thousands of clients facing prosecution on state and federal drug charges. You don’t have to go through this alone.

Call us today at (888) 280-6839 for a free telephone consultation. We will get through this together.

About Wallin & Klarich

Wallin & Klarich was established in 1981. Over the past 32 years, our law firm has helped tens of thousands of families in their time of legal need. Regardless of whether our clients faced criminal or DUI charges, the loss of their driving privilege, or wanted to clean up their criminal record, we have been there to help them.