Orange county Drug Trafficking Attorney
Committed to Delivering Skilled & Knowledgeable Legal Services to Clients in Orange County
Drug trafficking is drug dealing carried on at a high level. While California statutes generally do not distinguish dealing and trafficking, the police, prosecutors, and judges send a signal that a drug crime will likely be dealt with harshly when they describe the offense as “trafficking.”
Drug trafficking usually involves more than simple hand-to-hand exchanges of drugs for money. In addition to sales of large quantities, drug trafficking may involve additional accusations of crime, including smuggling drugs across borders, money laundering, and drug manufacturing.
When a drug operation involves transportation of drugs into California from another state or country, organized networks of dealers or large quantities of drugs, various law enforcement agencies work together to make headline-grabbing arrests and drug seizures.
Federal, state, and local authorities have designated four counties — Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino — as the Los Angeles High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). The Southwest Border HIDTA consists of San Diego and Imperial Counties. Drug agents in both areas focus on “drug gangs,” on drugs that are moving through the state on highways (“drug pipelines” or “drug corridors”), on meth labs, and on drugs that are carried into California by “mules,” sometimes unwittingly.
If you have been caught up in a drug sting, have been accused of drug trafficking by an informant, or have been the victim of aggressive police tactics that cause innocent people to be arrested for participating in drug trafficking conspiracies, you need the help of an experienced Orange County drug trafficking attorney.
Drug Trafficking Importation & Transportation in Orange County
Importing drugs from Mexico or any other country, or crossing state borders with drugs, is regarded as a serious drug crime, particularly when significant quantities of drugs are involved. Most federal charges for those crimes carry mandatory minimum sentences of at least 10 years. Large quantities may trigger a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Under California law, the transportation of drugs from one place to another is a felony. Even if the drugs are only transported from one house to another, the crime carries a potential sentence of five years in prison. A defendant who is accused of carrying drugs across more than two California counties faces a prison sentence of up to 9 years.
California Penalties for Sales of Large Drug Quantities
Selling any amount of cocaine, heroin, narcotics like oxycodone or hydrocodone, and many other “hard” drugs can be punished under California law by a sentence of up to 5 years in prison. Selling methamphetamine and drugs like GBH and ketamine can be punished by a sentence of up to 4 years.
California takes a harsher stance when drug traffickers sell large quantities of powder cocaine, cocaine base (crack), or heroin. Under California Health and Safety Code 11352 HS, the maximum sentence is increased by 3 years for the distribution of more than a kilogram of any of those drugs. The maximum sentence continues to increase as weights increase, eventually reaching an additional 25 years for the distribution of more than 80 kilograms.
California also enhances the maximum sentence for sales involving large amounts of methamphetamine and PCP. The enhancements start at an additional 3 years for selling more than 1 kilogram and increase incrementally to an additional 15 years for sales of more than 20 kilograms.
Attorney for Federal Drug Trafficking Charges in OC
If you have been convicted of a federal drug crime, you stand to face harsh penalties including several years in prison and hefty fines. Drug trafficking in particular could result in even harsher prison sentences and penalties. Federal drug distribution or trafficking laws penalize the sale, transportation, and illegal import of unlawful controlled substances such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, and other illicit drugs.
The punishment for drug trafficking under federal law can vary significantly depending on several factors such as the type and quantity of drugs involved, the geographic area of distribution, and whether children were targeted. If you are facing federal drug trafficking charges, it is important that you have an experienced Orange County drug trafficking lawyer who has successfully handled similar cases.
Federal Drug Trafficking Laws
Under United States Code 21 Section 841, it is illegal to knowingly and intentionally engage in the manufacturing, distribution, or dispensing of a controlled substance, or, to create, distribute, dispense or possess with intent to distribute, a counterfeit substance. A controlled substance could be anything from marijuana, which is legal in California but not under federal law, to hard drugs such as heroin or cocaine to prescription medication such as Oxycontin or Vicodin.
Federal Drug Trafficking Penalties
The penalties in a federal drug trafficking case depend on the circumstances of the case. Some of the factors that could have an impact on the penalties include the defendant’s past criminal history, the quantity of drugs trafficked, the type of drugs trafficked, and whether the drug trafficking resulted in death or serious bodily injury to someone else. In addition to lengthy prison times and fines, a drug trafficking conviction may result in other serious consequences such as:
- Deportation: If you are convicted of a federal crime, you may be subject to immediate deportation. A drug trafficking conviction on your record could make you ineligible for entry into the United States or ineligible for citizenship.
- Loss of rights and benefits: A drug trafficking conviction could also result in the loss of several civil rights and federal benefits. For example, you may lose the right to carry a firearm or access to federal school loans and grants. Federal benefits may also be permanently lost after repeat convictions.
- Forfeiture of assets: You may be required to give up any assets, money, or property obtained in connection with the drug trafficking conviction.
Need specific penalties? Click here to see a complete list of penalties based upon the substance being trafficked. Contact our Orange County drug trafficking lawyers today!
Proving Federal Drug Trafficking Charges in Orange County, CA
To obtain a conviction in a federal drug trafficking case, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant has the intent to traffic the drugs. For example, if an individual has no idea he or she was transporting drugs, then they cannot be convicted of federal drug trafficking. There are several defenses that an experienced Orange County drug trafficking lawyer could utilize in a federal drug trafficking case.
If there is reasonable doubt regarding your intent to traffic the drugs, the case must be dismissed for lack of sufficient evidence. If you were honestly not aware that you were trafficking drugs, then the case must be dismissed. Another issue that plays a part in drug crime cases is illegal search and seizure. This occurs when law enforcement conducts an illegal search of your property without a proper search warrant or by some other means. If the search and seizure was illegal, then the evidence obtained through such a search and seizure must be dismissed.
Federal drug trafficking charges are some of the more serious criminal charges you can face in any state. Being convicted of these crimes could permanently alter the course of your life. If you are facing these grave charges, it is critical that you contact an experienced Orange County drug trafficking lawyer who will be able to advise you about your options and a future course of action.
Aggressive Defense of Drug Trafficking Charges in Orange County
Our Orange County drug trafficking attorney Randy Collins understands how easy it is for innocent people to be caught in the net of a drug trafficking sweep. Even people who played minor roles in drug crimes are treated as if they were major players.
As a Orange County drug trafficking attorney, Randy Collins uses his courtroom experience and knowledge of drug law to obtain the best outcomes for his clients that the law allows. Dismissals, acquittals, and reasonable plea agreements can prevent individuals accused of serious drug trafficking charges from spending years of their lives behind bars.
DRUG TRAFFICKING CHARGES IN California
Drug trafficking in California is high level drug dealing. Although California statutes in general do not draw a distinction between trafficking and dealing, judges, prosecutors and the police send signals that when a drug crime is described as “trafficking” that it most likely will be dealt with in a harsh manner.
Usually drug trafficking involves more than simply hand-to-hand drugs for money exchanges. In addition to drug trafficking involving sales of large quantities of drugs, it might also involve other criminal accusations, including drug manufacturing, money laundering and smuggling drugs over borders.
Whenever transportation of drugs are involved in a drug operation where they are coming into California from another country; where there are large quantities of drugs; or there are organized dealer networks, multiple law enforcement agencies will combine forces and make headline-grabbing drug seizures and arrests.
Local, state and federal authorities have four counties that have been designated – San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange and Los Angeles – as the Los Angeles High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDA). Imperial and San Diego Counties are the Southwest Border of HIDTA. “Drug gangs” are focused on in both of these areas by drug agents, along with drugs carried by “mules” into California, on meth labs, and on drugs that move throughout the state on highways (“drug corridors” or “drug pipelines”).
Transportation and Importation
Importing drugs from other countries like Mexico, or crossing state borders carrying drugs, are viewed as serious crimes, especially when it involves large quantities of drugs. A majority of federal charges for these crimes have minimum sentences of 10 years at least. A maximum life imprisonment sentence might be triggered by large quantities.
Under California law, transporting drugs from one place to the next, is a felony. Even when drugs are transported only from one house over to another house, there is still a potential five year prison sentence for the crime. A defendant accused of carrying drugs over more than two counties in California will face up to 9 years in prison.
Selling Large Quantities of Drugs
Selling any amount of hydrocodone, oxycodone, heroin or cocaine along with numerous other “hard” drugs under California law may be punished by up to a 5 year prison term. Selling drugs and methamphetamine such as ketamine and GBH may be punished by up to 4 year sentences.
When drug traffickers are selling large quantities of heroin, cocaine base (crack) or powder cocaine California takes a much harsher stance. The maximum sentence under the California Health and Safety Code 11352 HS increases by 3 years for distributing more than one kilogram of any of these drugs. As the weights increase, the maximum sentence keeps increasing, until it eventually reaches an additional 25 years for distributing over 80 kilograms.
The maximum sentence is also enhanced by California for sales that involves large amounts of PCP and methamphetamine. These enhancements start at an extra 3 years when more than 1 kilogram is sold and incrementally increase up to an extra 15 years for selling over 20 kilograms of these substances.
A drug conspiracy in California is an agreement (not always a spoken agreement) for participating with one other person at least in the transportation, distribution or sale of an illicit drug, combined with any action that any conspirator takes in furthering the crime. With Federal law it differs in that the agreement isn’t sufficient for proving the conspiracy even when no action was taken to advance the drug conspiracy.
The enhanced penalties from California for large drug sales apply as well to convictions for conspiring to sell these drugs. Although proof of minor involvement sufficient for obtaining a conspiracy conviction, these enhanced penalties apply only to conspirators who involved substantially in financing, executing, directing or planning the drug crime.
Attorneys for Drug Trafficking Charge in Orange County, CA
If you’re facing charges for this offense, speaking with a Orange County drug trafficking lawyer will help you better understand your potential penalties, options, and defenses. Our office provides free consultations to anyone in need of legal assistance. Contact us today by phone or form to receive help with your case.