JAIL TIME FOR COCAINE
Although not nearly as popular as it once was, cocaine related drug offenses still carry stiff penalties in California. The plant derived illegal substance cocaine is a stimulant that speeds up all body functions. Known on the street as coke, blow, crack, rock or snow, if you are found to be in possession of this substance in California you could be facing serious jail time.
Distinctions between possession, sales, and manufacturing are very important when identifying how long a person might spend in jail for cocaine-related offenses.
To be found guilty of possessing cocaine, or any controlled substance, in the state of California a prosecutor must be able to prove that either the drug was directly on your person or that you were able to control it. It must have been a usable amount of the substance and they will also need to provide evidence that you knew of its presence.
This is a felony crime with a prison sentence of 16 months to 3 years in addition to fines, which can go as high as $20,000 if convicted. Depending on your prior criminal history and other mitigating factors, the simple possession of cocaine conviction can be dismissed if a California drug diversion program is completed successfully.
First time offenders may be ordered to serve probation with restrictions such as random narcotic testing and mandatory involvement in a narcotic treatment program if found guilty. Depending on the success of the probation, they may also qualify to have the offense expunged.
Possession with Intent To Sell
Drug related sales convictions in California are treated with more severity than a simple possession charge. Most intent offenses are based on the defendant having in his or her possession items known to be used for distributing such as plastic bags and scales while others may have been in observance of an actual sale.
Being that it’s a felony conviction, this can carry state prison sentences of 2, 3, or 4 years plus fines of up to $20,000. You could face additional cocaine jail time if the crime took place near or at a school or involved a sale to a minor.
‘Cocaine base’ refers to what most people consider crack. Since this is a more concentrated form of the substance, the amount needed to be in your possession to trigger an intent charge is significantly less. A conviction for this type of narcotic charge could mean a prison term of anywhere between 3 to 25 years depending on the amount of the substance that you possessed at the time of arrest.
There are vast differences between violations involving selling and trafficking. While intent to sell charges usually involve individually packaged small amounts of the illegal narcotic, trafficking involves moving it in large quantities across local, state, and federal borders.
Another major difference is that with trafficking offenses, the defendant needs not be directly involved in the movement activities to be convicted of it. Since trafficking usually involves a large criminal organization, prosecutors may impose these charges on those individuals that they believe to be running it, whether they have actual physical contact with the drug or not.
The base sentence for trafficking cocaine in the state of California is three to five years in state prison with leeway given to the judge to add years to the sentence if there are aggravating circumstances. Defendants also face the possibility of federal charges being applied as drug trafficking, which is also governed by the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency.
Offenses that involve manufacturing are based on one of two circumstances: the suspect was found cutting cocaine with other substances to make it sellable; or the suspect was found to be manufacturing crack. In either case, a prison sentence of 3 to 7 years can be imposed upon conviction. Like drug trafficking, the Federal government can file its own charges in manufacturing cases. In this case, the jail time starts at a 5-year sentence in the Federal prison system.
What Options Do You Have?
Although things may seem grim, you may have some control over how much possession of cocaine jail time you receive for your offense. Cocaine related criminal convictions can cost you years of life in prison if you don’t employ the help of a qualified criminal defense attorney immediately. Not only will they investigate to ensure that your rights were not violated during the arrest, they may also challenge the integrity of any eyewitness testimony being used against you. Criminal defense lawyers also know what tactics they can use with prosecutors to help your charges get reduced, especially in simple possession cases and intent.
In the event that you are facing felony related charges, speak with a cocaine defense attorney immediately. The sooner he or she can begin researching your circumstances and negotiating with the prosecutor means the sooner you can put this event behind you.