Can I be charged with a felony for taking "ecstasy" across city or county lines?

Posted by Neil Shouse | Oct 13, 2016 | 0 Comments

Ecstasy may be illegal in California--but it is still widely used as a "party drug" by people from all walks of life.

Most people are vaguely aware that simple possession of a drug like ecstasy, for personal use, is a misdemeanor and thus a relatively "minor" crime. But what if you travel with the ecstasy--bringing it in your car on a road trip, for example, or on a bus between different cities?

Prior to January 1, 2014, traveling in any way--including by car or bike within your city--with ecstasy in your possession could have led to charges of Health & Safety Code 11379 HS sale or transportation of ecstasy. This is a felony offense carrying harsh penalties. Prosecutors would often use the threat of charges under this law to intimidate and threaten defendants who were really guilty of no more than simple possession.

But in 2013, California lawmakers passed Assembly Bill 721 (AB 721). This law specified that you could only be convicted under sale/transportation of controlled substances laws--including those applying to sale/transportation of ecstasy--if you were transporting the drugs for sale.

So, in other words, people who travel with ecstasy in order to sell it at their destination are guilty of HS 11379 sale/transportation of ecstasy, a serious felony.

But people who travel with ecstasy that is only for their personal use are only guilty of Health & Safety Code 11377 HS simple possession of ecstasy--a misdemeanor that can sometimes be resolved with participation in a drug diversion program in lieu of jail time.

About the Author

Neil Shouse

A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.


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