Narcotics, Drugs, Controlled Substances
Drug offenses run the gamut from simple possession of controlled substances such as methamphetamine (Health and Safety Code section 11377), and cocaine (Health and Safety Code section 11350) in state court, to possession for sale, sale, manufacturing and distribution of controlled substances in state or federal court. (Health and Safety Code sections 11350, 11351, 11352, 11351.5, 11358, 11359, 11364, 11377, 11378; 21 U.S.C. sections 841, 844, 953.) California law advocates treatment rather than punishment for nonviolent drug offenders who are charged with offenses of simple possession or under the influence.
For most people charged with their first drug offense involving simple possession of a controlled substance, California law provides for deferred entry of judgment, formerly known as drug diversion. (Penal Code section 1000.) Under this program, the person pleads guilty and is directed to participate in an out-patient drug program. If the person is not prosecuted for another drug charge or other significant offense for 18 months to three years, there is no conviction, the guilty plea is set aside and the arrest is deemed never to have occurred. (Penal Code section 1000.4.)
Even those individuals prosecuted for drug offenses who have prior drug convictions or significant criminal records may be eligible for drug treatment instead of incarceration. In November 2000, California voters passed Proposition 36, the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act, which requires that courts place many defendants in non- residential treatment programs and prohibits imposing jail sentences under many circumstances. (Penal Code section 1210.) Proposition 36 also helps keep out of jail those people who relapse while participating in court-ordered treatment.
In 1996, California voters approved Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, which allows Californians to possess, use, and cultivate marijuana for medicinal purposes. (Health and Safety Code section 11362.5.) In 2003, California enacted the Medical Marijuana Program Act, which, among other things, granted limited immunity to individuals who cultivate marijuana as part of a collective or cooperative organization. (Health and Safety Code section 11362.775.) In 2016, California legalized simple non-medicinal possession of marijuana for adults over 21 years old and reduced the penalties for cultivation, possession for sale and sales of marijuana. The new laws also permit people previously convicted of some felony marijuana offenses to have their convictions reduced to misdemeanors.
In 2014, California voters passed Proposition 47. Proposition 47 changed the law to make many formerly felony drug possession offenses misdemeanors. Proposition 47 also entitles many individuals who had previously been convicted of felony drug possession offenses to request that their felony offenses be reduced to misdemeanors.
At Nolan Barton & Olmos, we are knowledgeable about drug laws, medical marijuana, and all the available treatment options. When appropriate, we also encourage our clients to pursue psychological counseling or participate in drug and alcohol treatment programs. In cases involving sales or manufacturing of drugs, where treatment options are not generally available, we draw on our extensive legal experience to present the best defense. We pursue claims that detentions, arrests, searches or wiretaps were unlawful.
We are not afraid to aggressively defend drug charges at trial. Attorneys at Nolan Barton & Olmos have successfully defended charges of drug possession, drug sale, possession for sale, manufacturing and conspiracy at jury trial. The attorneys have also successfully assisted medical marijuana users and caregivers in defending their cases based on the Compassionate Use Act.