In Pasadena and throughout California, drug crime charges are relatively common, and the California punishes them more severely than do many other states. Common drug crimes charges include:
- Possession of a controlled substance (HS 11350): To knowingly possess an illegal narcotic or to illegally possess a prescription drug is the least serious drug crime in California. It can still lead to serious consequences upon a conviction, but a good lawyer can often get the defendant into a drug diversion program if a conviction cannot be avoided altogether. Defenses include lack of knowledge of the controlled substance's presence or of its nature as a controlled substance or lack of sufficient quantity of the drug to make it "usable."
- Possession with intent to sell (HS 11351): When one not only possesses a controlled substance but also has an intention to sell it to others, the sentence will be more severe than for simple possession, potentially including 2 to 4 years in jail and a fine of up to $20,000. Prosecutors will rely on the presence of large quantities of a drug, of there being numerous separate bags of drugs, and of the defendant possessing large amounts of money in small bills; but none of these factors prove someone had an intent to sell. And a good defense lawyer can also find out if police used illegal means to obtain a warrant or engaged in searches and seizures without a warrant, possibly getting evidence against you declared inadmissible in court.
- Sale or transport of a controlled substance (HS 11352): The next most serious drug crime after possession with intent to sell is actually selling illegal drugs. Punishments may put people away in state prison for decades or for life if the quantities are large enough or if drugs were imported over state lines. Federal law may also apply in such cases. Many times, police violate entrapment laws during sting operations designed to catch drug dealers red-handed, and other times, they mistake buyers and those simply present at a drug house for being sellers. A defense lawyer with drug crimes experience can help get such charges dismissed or reduced to a lesser drug crime.