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What are the Best Defenses for Cocaine Charges?

Posted by Sam Israels | Jan 29, 2022

Under California Health and Safety Code statutes, it's a crime to possess, sell, or manufacture cocaine, which is frequently called “crack” and “coke.”

Cocaine is a prevalent illegal drug in California, and authorities often charge people with cocaine-related drug crimes.

Federal regulation places cocaine on Schedule II for its high abuse potential, restricted medical use, and psychological and physical dependence its use produces.

Best Legal Defenses for Cocaine Charges

Cocaine base is a worse Schedule I drug that refers to its crack form. Crack cocaine is an incredibly debilitating drug typically smoked with a pipe.

Prosecutors use Health and Safety Code 11350 HS to charge someone with simple possession of a controlled substance, such as cocaine and other narcotics.

Health and Safety Code 11351 HS is used to file charges against someone for possessing cocaine with an intent to sell, known as “drug sales.”

Health and Safety Code 11352 HS is the statute prosecutor's use for filing charges when someone is transporting or selling a controlled substance.

HS 11350 simple possession of cocaine could be charged as a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in county jail and a fine up to $1,000.

However, defendants who have certain convictions on their criminal record could be charged with a felony drug crime for cocaine possession, punishable by up to three years in jail and a fine up to $10,000.

If you are convicted of possession of cocaine, there is a chance you are eligible for a California drug diversion program, including:

Any drug diversion program will primarily focus on rehabilitation instead of time in jail or prison. Further, these programs also give defendants a chance to dismiss their drug charges after completing a program.

Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers are providing a review below for more information.

Different Types of Cocaine Crimes in California

California state and federal prosecutors frequently pursue charges against anyone involved in the illegal drug trade that involves cocaine, such as the following:

  • drug possession with intent to sell,
  • drug trafficking,
  • drug manufacturing,
  • drug transportation,
  • money laundering,
  • drug possession,
  • operating a drug house.

Other related drug crimes include buying, transporting, possessing methamphetamines, LSD, heroin, and marijuana.

The classification of the drug will generally determine the seriousness of the drug-related activity.

Possession of Cocaine Laws – Health and Safety Code 11350 HS

As noted, one of the most common statutes used by prosecutors to charge someone with cocaine possession is Health and Safety Code 11350 HS.

This is also known as “simple drug possession” and prohibits possessing cocaine and a wide range of illegal drugs. Other controlled substances covered under HS 11350 include opiates, heroin, codeine, and more.

 A violation of Health and Safety Code 11350 is a "wobbler" that can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony crime.

Possession of Cocaine – Health and Safety Code 11350 HS

If convicted of a misdemeanor cocaine possession, the penalties include:

  • up to one year in county jail,
  • a fine of up to $1,000.

If convicted of a felony cocaine possession, the penalties include:

  • up to three years in jail,
  • a fine of up to $10,000.

Defendants who will be charged with felony cocaine possession include those who have prior convictions for certain serious felony crimes, such as murder, violent sex crimes, sexual-related crimes against minors, or any sex crime conviction requiring California PC 290 sex offender registration.

If convicted of cocaine possession, you might be eligible for drug diversion discussed above. If you complete diversion, then you could get your charges dismissed.

Possession of Cocaine for Sale - Health and Safety Code 11350 HS

Health and Safety Code 11351 HS is the statute used by prosecutors to charge someone with the more severe crime of possessing cocaine with intent to sell.

Suppose it can be proven you had possession of the cocaine to sell it beyond any reasonable doubt rather than consuming it for personal use. In that case, you are facing up to four years in a California state prison and a fine of up to $20,000.

If convicted of possessing or purchasing cocaine base for sale, then you are facing up to five years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

Further, if convicted of possessing or purchasing cocaine or cocaine base for sale that exceeds one kilogram, then you are facing a sentencing enhancement of up to three to twenty-five years.

HS 11351 possession of cocaine for sale charges will make you ineligible to participate in a drug diversion program.

How Can I Fight Cocaine Charges?

If you were arrested and charged with a crime related to the possession or sale of cocaine, different defense strategies could be used on your behalf to obtain the best possible outcome on the case.

How Can I Fight Cocaine Charges?

For example, through a process known as prefiling intervention, it might be possible to negotiate with the prosecution to avoid the formal filing of charges before court.

Negotiation might also be possible to get the cocaine charges reduced or dismissed. 

Our criminal lawyers have experience developing a defense around the details of cocaine manufacturing, abuse, sale, and even chemistry.

We also know how law enforcement will investigate drug crimes and how the District Attorney will prosecute these types of crimes. 

Some most common defense strategies to fight cocaine and other drug crimes include:

  • illegal search and seizure;
  • motion to suppress evidence;
  • entrapment by law enforcement;
  • police misconduct;
  • altering or planting evidence;
  • conceal exonerating evidence;
  • chain of custody of evidence violations;
  • prosecutor misconduct;
  • unfair police lineup procedure;
  • improper testing to determine drug type;
  • drug amount doesn't qualify for sentence enhancement.

If you are facing any cocaine charges in the state of California, our law firm has the skill to get the best outcome on the case.

Perhaps your charges will qualify for diversion under California Penal Code 1000 PC, Proposition 36, or a California drug court.

Cron, Israels & Stark is based in Los Angeles County and serves clients throughout Southern California. We offer a free case evaluation by calling (424) 372-3112, or you can fill out our contact form.

About the Author

Sam Israels

Sam J. Israels is a Law Firm partner with the Law Offices of Cron, Israels, & Stark. Mr. Israels received his J.D. degree from the Santa Clara University School of Law. Mr. Israels also previously worked at the Los Angeles Office of the City Attorney. He is admitted to practice law in the State o...

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