Expert defense by former cops & prosecutors..for people charged with possession, sales, transportation, manufacturing or trafficking narcotics
Our California drug crimes defense attorneys represent clients accused of drug and narcotics charges throughout the state, including Los Angeles, Orange County, the Inland Empire and the San Francisco Bay Area.
Whether you're charged with large-scale drug trafficking or simple possession of a controlled substance, our narcotics attorneys draw on years of experience as cops and prosecutors. We can help you fight the charges and, if necessary, secure an effective drug treatment program.
Lead criminal defense attorney Neil Shouse is a former drug crime prosecutor who worked closely with the DEA, narcotics units and special undercover police teams. He prosecuted every type of narcotics case, from methamphetamine labs and major drug dealers to possession and under the influence cases. Now California narcotics lawyer Neil Shouse uses his insider experience to help clients fight criminal drug charges.
Identifying where the cops went wrong
In making drug busts, narcotics officers frequently:
- ignore the California rules of search and seizure
- "set-up" suspects in violation of California entrapment laws
- rely on bogus "confidential police informants"
- mislead judges in order to bamboozle California search warrants
- exaggerate or outright lie in their police reports, or
- arrest people without evidence that the drugs even belonged to them
Our California drugs crimes lawyers know how to scrutinize the case for police mistakes and misconduct. Moreover, we know how to exploit problems in the prosecution's case to your advantage.
In many cases, we can make a motion to suppress evidence...which, if granted, usually leads to the whole case being thrown out of court.
The most common types of cases we handle include:
Health & Safety Code 11350 makes it a misdemeanor to possess narcotics such as cocaine, crack, heroin, ecstasy, ketamine, GHB and even prescription drugs such as Vicodin or Codeine (if they're not lawfully prescribed). A person convicted of "possession of a controlled substance" faces up to three years California state prison. But most people accused of this crime are eligible for Proposition 36 or PC 1000 drug diversion.
(Note: In November 2014, Proposition 47 changed HS 11350 from a felony to a misdemeanor. If you were previously convicted of possession of a controlled substance as a felony, you may be eligible to be re-sentenced under Proposition 47 to a misdemeanor).
Health & Safety Code 11351 makes it a felony to possess illegal drugs for the purpose of selling them. This crime is more serious than simple possession, and does not qualify for Proposition 36 or PC 1000 drug diversion.
In assessing whether a suspect possessed narcotics for the purpose of sales, cops and prosecutors will look to the quantity of the drugs, packaging in numerous separate baggies or bindles, scales, and weapons and/or large sums of cash. But unfortunately many innocent people get accused of HS 11351 when, in fact, they only possessed the drugs for personal use.
Moreover, cops often use faulty information, unreliable police informants and even outright lies to obtain California search warrants. If our drug crimes defense lawyers can show that a search warrant was improperly obtained, most likely we can get the evidence suppressed and the entire case dismissed.
Health & Safety Code 11352 makes it a felony to sell, furnish, administer, give away, transport or import into California an illegal narcotic. Many of the HS 11352 cases arise out of undercover sting operations in which a decoy officer engages in a "controlled buy." Sometimes these stings run afoul of California entrapment laws and should be dismissed for that reason.
In some cases, officers claim to have witnessed a drug deal from an observation post or a disguised location. But in reality, many suspects arrested for "selling drugs" were really just the buyers, or were not even involved in a drug deal at all.
Health & Safety Code 11364 makes it a misdemeanor to possess "an opium pipe or any device, contrivance, instrument, or paraphernalia used for unlawfully injecting or smoking a controlled substance." This includes hypodermic needles, pipes, bongs and cocaine spoons.
A conviction for 11364 HS carries up to six months in the county jail. But this offense usually qualifies for a diversion program under Prop 36 or PC 1000. Moreover, these devices are often confiscated through an improper police search and seizure...in which case we may be able to get the whole case dismissed by way of a motion to suppress.
Health & Safety Code 11377 makes it a crime to possess methamphetamine (also known as meth, crystal meth or speed). Because of Proposition 47, this offense can now only be filed as a misdemeanor.
However, possession for sale, sale, transportation or manufacturing of methamphetamine are still felonies and can subject you to years in custody. See our article detailing the various meth crimes in California.
Health & Safety Code 11379.6 HS makes it a felony to manufacture, produce, compound or process a controlled substance. Common examples include operating a meth lab in California, or compressing marijuana resin into hashish. To be liable for this offense, the person must actually have begun the process of making the illegal drug, rather than merely gathering supplies and preparing to do so.
A conviction for HS 11379.6 carries the harshest sentencing of any California drug law, up to 7 years in state prison. The sentence can increase substantially if large volumes are involved, children are near the processing location, or someone is injured or killed in the process.
A related offense to manufacturing drugs & narcotics is Health & Safety Code 11363 HS cultivation of peyote. This law makes it a crime to plant, cultivate, harvest or process the hallucinogenic drug known as peyote, which is often used in Native American religious ceremonies. Cultivation of peyote can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony carrying a state prison sentence.
Another closely related offense is Health & Safety Code 11383 and 11383.5 HS possession of materials for manufacture of a controlled substance. This law makes it a California felony to possess certain chemicals with the intent to use them to manufacture PCP or methamphetamine.
Health & Safety Code 11550 makes it a misdemeanor crime to "use" or "be under the influence of" a controlled substance. This includes illicit narcotics such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, ecstasy and GHB. It can also include prescription drugs such as xanax or valium, if the person does not have a valid prescription.
A conviction for HS 11550 carries up to one (1) year in county jail. But most people charged with the offense do qualify for Proposition 36 or drug diversion under PC 1000.
California Vehicle Code 23152(a) prohibits driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The police can arrest you for driving under the influence of drugs, even lawfully prescribed ones, if the drug has impaired your ability to operate a motor vehicle safely. However, many people get wrongfully accused of this crime and it may be possible to get the charges reduced or dismissed. Our attorneys can help you with any type of DUI of drugs case, including DUI of Marijuana, DUI of Vicodin and DUI of Ambien or Lunesta.
Marijuana is a harmless substance with legitimate and proven medical benefits. As of January 1, 2018, adults age 21 and over in California may possess up to one (1) ounce of marijuana or eight (8) grams of concentrated cannabis.
Otherwise, California marijuana law still makes it a crime to cultivate, sell, possess or use the substance. Proposition 215 (California's medical marijuana law) provides limited exceptions.
The penalties for possession of a small quantity of marijuana over what is legal are light, and often merely entail a small fine. But cultivation, sale and transportation of marijuana are felonies in California.
We've enjoyed substantial success getting marijuana charges reduced or dismissed, and many times getting wrongfully-seized marijuana returned to the client.
Prescription Drug Charges
It isn't only the stereotypical "illegal drugs" that can lead to a drug crimes conviction in California. Illegal use of otherwise-legal prescription drugs (like opioid painkillers) can also lead to criminal charges.
People who use fraud or deceit to get a prescription for a drug like Vicodin can be charged with "doctor shopping"/prescription fraud. So can people who forge or alter a prescription for certain narcotic drugs.
And even doctors, nurses and other health care providers need to worry about charges of prescribing controlled substances to an addict.
In addition, nitrous oxide--otherwise known as "laughing gas," and sometimes thought of as a harmless diversion--can be the basis for criminal charges of Penal Code 381b PC possession of / under the influence of nitrous oxide. This offense only applies to people who use or possess laughing gas for recreational (non-medical) purposes.
If you or a loved one is accused of a narcotics-related crime, we urge you to come and speak with one of our California drug crimes defense lawyers. We may be able to help you get the charges reduced or dismissed, and keep the person out of jail.
To learn about Nevada drug crimes laws, go to our informational article on Nevada drug crimes laws.