California drug offenders may soon see some relief as California Governor Jerry Brown has just signed legislation designed to ease penalties against those carrying illegal drugs for personal use. The legislative bill, Assembly Bill 721, will soon modify laws pertaining to offenses that would traditionally result in drug sale transportation charges. Until now, someone who is arrested for having illegal drugs in their car could be charged with drug possession and transportation. Under the new definition, transportation covers transportation for sale, rather than simply transporting illegal drugs from one place to another.
Transportation of drugs could be committed when transporting via foot, bicycle, car, or any other means that moves them from one place to another. In California, health and safety code 11352 governs transportation offenses and can result in serious penalties. A conviction results in a felony offense on one’s criminal record as well as up to five years in prison and a maximum $20,000 fine.
Personally, I have represented drug crime defendants throughout the state of California and have seen a large number of alleged HS 11352 violations to be a scare tactic utilized by the prosecutors as an attempt to increase their chances of success. Prosecutors tend to “cast a wide net??? when seeking convictions and will charge offenders with as many offenses as possible. Sometimes the charges stick and sometimes they don’t, but a number of lives have been ruined and unjust punishment served as a result of this easily abused definition of “transportation??? pertaining to illegal drugs.
CALIFORNIA’S CHANGE IN STANCE TOWARDS DRUG ABUSE
If you haven’t noticed, California Governor Jerry Brown has made concerted efforts over the last few months to lessen the penalties for those who commit various types of drug crimes. Nationally, notoriously hard-nosed advocates of harsh penalties for drug possession, sales, and transportation have begun to publicly address deficiencies in our current system. Earlier this year, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that he no longer supported mandatory minimum drug offense sentencing and made reference to the ineffectiveness of the “War on Drugs???.
THE FAILING WAR ON DRUGS
Something that has begun to be less debatable with every passing year is whether or not the “War on Drugs??? has been effective. In a recent study performed by the United States and Canadian researchers, illegal drugs have become cheaper while their potency has increased, which indicates that the global effort to curb the illegal drug market has failed miserably.
The researchers used seven sets of government drug surveillance data, which examined drug supply in Europe, Australia, and the United States as well as drug production in Afghanistan, Latin America, and Southeast Asia.
According to the study, the average price of cannabis, cocaine, and heroin decreased by 80% or more between 1990 and 2007. The purity increases amounted to 160%, 11%, and 60%. As the purity of drugs continues to increase, and the price continues to decrease, the growing trends predict a dangerous future if we do not move on to a different path.
There are some limitations that should be noted with the provided data: there are several factors not included that could affect the availability and use of drugs, but to say that the “War on Drugs??? is working, yet prices of drugs are falling and the purity is increasing, would be a stretch under any scenario.
CALIFORNIA DRUG CRIME LEGAL ASSISTANCE
Those facing charges for the possession, sale, or transportation of narcotics in California are encouraged to contact our law offices for a free case evaluation. The ways in which drug crime offenders are prosecuted are currently changing, by taking advantage of a free consultation you may be able to avoid costly mistakes and penalties.
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