Los Angeles Drug Trafficking Defense Lawyer
Criminal charges for drug trafficking in Los Angeles, CA are scary and stressful. Once you’ve been charged, your entire future is uncertain, and you may feel like it’s out of your control. However, no matter what charges you are facing, you do have options and choices in how your case is handled and who fights for you.
The experienced Los Angeles drug crimes attorneys at The Rodriguez Law Group can help you fight to protect your future. Contact our criminal defense team at (213) 995-6767 to discuss your case at no charge today.
How Our Criminal Defense Lawyers Can Help if You’ve Been Charged With Drug Trafficking.
No attorney is in a better position to take on a prosecutor than a former prosecutor. As a former prosecutor, Ambrosio Rodriguez has a thorough understanding of how the legal system works. He knows how police investigate cases, where they take shortcuts, and how prosecutors build their case.
Drug charges must be taken seriously. If you are facing a drug trafficking charge in Los Angeles, contact our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys today and put our knowledge, skills, and experience to work for you. We offer a free consultation to answer your questions and give you immediate advice. Call us for immediate assistance.
What is Drug Trafficking?
Although the term “drug trafficking” may conjure images of large tunnels and cartel operations, trafficking can be merely walking down the street with a small bag of drugs in your pocket. A conviction for a drug trafficking crime means potentially serious prison and fine consequences. Penalties are typically dependant upon three things:
- the type of drug being trafficked
- the amount of the drug, and
- the alleged drug trafficker’s criminal history (if you have prior convictions, up to three years may be added to a prison term for each conviction).
Drug crime penalties are also subject to enhancements, such as:
- Selling drugs or distributing to minors
- Using a minor to distribute controlled substances
- Selling drugs within 1,000 feet of a school zone.
Are you facing criminal drug charges in Southern California? Call The Rodriguez Law Group and benefit from having our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys in your corner. Your first consultation is 100 percent free.
Possible State and Federal Drug Trafficking Charges
Drug trafficking is always punished more harshly than mere possession. Los Angeles is a designated High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), which means even if you did not transport drugs across state lines, or the U.S – Mexico international border, it is possible that you could be tried and convicted in both a state and federal court.
At The Rodriguez Law Group, our team is experienced in defending federal drug trafficking crimes (21 U.S.C. § 841) and state crimes. Possible penalties for federal drug trafficking include five years to life in prison, with hefty fines. Like with state drug cases, the penalty will depend on the amount of drugs involved, and whether injury or death resulted from the use of controlled substances.
In cases where large quantities of drugs are being trafficked, a life sentence is possible. Federal law may apply in any of the following scenarios:
- Drugs are being transported across state lines or national borders.
- Trafficking is occurring in a HIDTA (Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties make up the Los Angeles Metropolitan HIDTA), an area where federal authorities have increased the level of surveillance/enforcement due to a high volume of drug-related criminal activity.
- Trafficking significant amounts of methamphetamine is suspected.
The sooner you get started on your defense, the better. Contact our Los Angeles law office to discuss your case today.
CA Health & Safety Code 11352 – Transportation or sale of controlled substances
HS 11352 prohibits the sale or moving of drugs and is the primary California drug trafficking statute. Transportation can be on foot, by bicycle, by car, or another means of transportation. HS11352 offenses can be separated into two categories:
- Transportation of controlled substance or illegal drug
- Offering to sell, furnish, or transport a controlled substance.
Examples of potential violations of HS11352:
- Importing drugs into California
- Administering drugs to someone else via injection
- Supplying drugs to another person
- Giving drugs away.
The “distance” required to meet the definition of transportation can be very short, such as walking across the street, or across a motel parking lot. Even if you are not selling drugs, or “benefiting” by getting paid, you can be convicted for transporting them.
For example, if you are helping your drug dealer boyfriend complete a transaction by driving a backpack full of drugs to him, you could face charges under HS 11352.
HS 11352 applies to the following substances:
- Opiates and opiate derivatives
- Certain prescription drugs such as codeine and hydrocodone
- Cocaine (including cocaine base)
Our team is ready and willing to help you defend against trafficking charges in LA. Give us a quick call to learn more.
What Must Prosecutors Prove To Convict HS 11352?
In California, prosecutors have the burden of proof to establish the defendant is guilty of the crimes. In a HS 11352 charge, the prosecutor must establish:
- That the defendant transported, imported, provided, or sold a controlled substance (or indicated that they intended to)
- That the defendant knew the substance was illegal (does not need to have specific knowledge of what the substance was)
- That the defendant knew that the substance was present or within his control.
- That the substance at issue is indeed a controlled substance.
- That there was a sufficient amount of the narcotic to be used as a mind-altering drug.
Our attorneys will challenge the prosecution at every turn. Sometimes, an aggressive approach designed to undermine the state’s case can yield great results.
Related Drug Charges to HS 11352
Many people who face drug trafficking charges will also face other criminal charges. For example, someone charged with drug trafficking [HS 11352] may also be charged with other drug crimes:
- Possession of a controlled substance [HS 11350(a)]
- Transportation of a controlled substance across county lines [HS 11379(b)]
- Possession of a controlled substance drug for sales [HS 11378]
- Knowingly renting or making available a space to unlawfully manufacture, store or distribute a controlled substance [HS 11366.5(a)]
- Sale of synthetic marijuana [HS 11357.5], or synthetic stimulant compounds [HS 11375.5] for sale of synthetic drugs such as “potpourri,” “spice,” or “bath salts.”
No matter what charges you’re up against, our Los Angeles drug crime attorneys are here to help. Call to arrange a free case evaluation now.
Possible Defenses to Drug Trafficking Charges in Los Angeles
In your initial consultation, and throughout the handling of your case, we will weigh and revisit possible defenses to your drug charges. These could include:
- You only had brief, momentary possession of a controlled substance and intended to abandon, dispose of, or destroy it
- You were falsely accused
- Your arrest was unlawful
- Illegal search and seizure
- Law enforcement mistook you for someone else
- You did not know that you had drugs in your vehicle, backpack, luggage, etc.
- Drugs were for your own personal use and not intended to be transported (this is an argument for a lesser charge).
The best-case scenario would be a complete dismissal of a case, followed by a reduction of a charge. We will do everything we can to keep you out of jail.
Potential Outcomes of Your Drug Trafficking Case
Your criminal case could several potential outcomes:
- Your charges could be dropped
- You could plead guilty to charges
- You could accept a plea bargain
- Your case could go to trial.
An experienced Los Angeles drug trafficking defense lawyer can help you weigh the charges, the evidence, and your potential defenses, in deciding the greatest defense strategy for your case. Hiring an experienced lawyer can be your best shot at getting criminal charges dropped or reduced.
Penalties for Drug Trafficking Charges in Los Angeles
Since drug trafficking is a “criminal profiteering activity” which may lead to financial gain, California’s asset-forfeiture laws (Cal. Health & Safety Code § 11495, § 11488.4) may apply if you are convicted. Asset forfeitures are most common in drug crimes and organized crime, and typically involve seizure of houses, boats, cars, and cash. The government has a burden of proof and numerous procedural requirements to meet in order to be successful in asset forfeiture.
Aside from asset forfeiture, a felony conviction can have devastating consequences long after a court case is completed and jail time is served. These are known as “collateral consequences,” which are the penalties and disadvantages that can be imposed upon an individual with a criminal conviction.
- The “Scarlet F” (felony) may need to be disclosed on job applications, housing applications, and even volunteer participation agreements.
- If you wish to obtain a professional license, such as become a doctor, nurse, teacher, lawyer, or real estate agent, you must disclose past convictions.
- You may also be subject to a lifetime ban from owning or possessing a firearm in California. This can be waived either by receiving a pardon from the governor or by having a “wobbler” felony (an offense that can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor) reduced to a misdemeanor.
According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, 497 (78 percent) of the 641 collateral consequences of a felony conviction can potentially last a lifetime.
Additional Immigration Consequences for Immigrants in LA
Drug convictions for trafficking can have serious consequences on your immigration status. In short – a felony drug conviction makes you deportable. If you have a green card, you can lose it. If you do not have lawful permanent resident status in the U.S., the Department of Homeland Security will initiate removal proceedings, and you will be deported.
The burden of proof is on the government to establish a person is subject to removal from the United States. You can apply for a waiver of inadmissibility, but there is very little relief available for drug crimes. You can appeal a decision, but the Board of Immigration appeals typically will not second guess a ruling unless you can demonstrate the judge abused their power or erred in applying the law to your situation.
Hire An Experienced Los Angeles Drug Crimes Lawyer
If you are facing drug charges in Los Angeles, do not delay in protecting your rights and your future. When you enlist the help of The Rodriguez Law Group, our experience, knowledge, and skilled team are available to you. Whether negotiating a plea deal or taking a case to trial, our Los Angeles criminal defense law firm will be able to build the best case and strategy for the best possible outcome.
Last Updated on April 20, 2022