How to Defend Against Codeine Charges in California
Some California laws make it a crime to possess the painkiller codeine without a valid prescription, including personal use, selling or transporting it, being under the influence, and driving under the influence of drugs.
Also, depending on the case details, a prosecutor could file additional charges to your codeine possession case.
A felony conviction for sales or transportation carries harsh legal penalties, but simple possession and driving under the influence are typically filed as misdemeanors with fewer penalties.
Some people who abuse codeine started using it for valid medical purposes with a prescription but became addicted to its strong pain-killing ability and kept using it.
Other people use codeine for pleasure because they enjoy the side effects, including euphoria.
Codeine is a controlled substance, meaning a drug or chemical the government places restrictions on for possessing, using, or manufacturing. Let's review the related state laws below.
What California Statutes Are Related to Codeine?
The following codes relate to controlled substances under California law:
- Health and Safety Code 11350 HS makes it a crime to possess codeine without a legitimate prescription;
- Health and Safety Code 11351 HS makes it a crime to have possession of codeine with the intent to sell it;
- Health and Safety Code 11352 HS makes it a felony crime to sell or transport a controlled substance, including codeine;
- Health and Safety Code 11370.1 HS makes it a crime to possess a controlled substance while armed;
- Health and Safety Code 11550 HS makes it a crime to be intoxicated by codeine when they have no prescription;
- Vehicle Code 23152(f) VC makes it a crime to drive under the influence of drugs (DUID), such as codeine.
Possession of a Controlled Substance - Health and Safety Code 11350 HS
Under Health and Safety Code 11350(a) HS, it's a misdemeanor to possess a controlled substance without a prescription, such as codeine.
Codeine is used to help people suffering from pain related to a cough or cold, but a highly addictive opioid. It's an opiate known as a narcotic derived from the opium poppy plant to dull the senses. Codeine is mainly used as a pain killer.
To be convicted of possessing codeine illegally, the prosecutor has to prove all the elements of the crime, including that a defendant did all of the following:
- possessed a controlled substance;
- knew the substance qualified as a controlled substance;
- did not have a prescription for it;
- knew of its presence;
- were aware of the amount they had in their possession.
Drug possession charges are prosecuted as misdemeanors and carry up to one year of county jail time and a fine of up to $1,000.
Some of the most common legal defenses include that you did not have a drug, had a valid prescription, or an unlawful search and seizure occurred.
Vehicle Code 23152(f) VC - Driving Intoxicated by Drugs
California Vehicle Code 23152(f) VC prohibits driving intoxicated by drugs. Whether the drug is illegal or obtained by a prescription does not matter.
The issue is how it affects someone's motor skills and makes it dangerous for themselves and others on the road. In other words, they often cannot operate a motor vehicle safely.
There are some available defenses against charges of driving under the influence of drugs (DUID), including the following:
- lack of reasonable suspicion for a traffic stop;
- lack of probable cause for the arrest;
- driver was not impaired when arrested;
- valid reasons for having exhibited impaired driving.
Perhaps we can argue that even though drugs were detected in the driver's system by a blood test, they were ingested before getting behind the wheel and did not impact their driving ability.
Driving intoxicated by drugs is usually a misdemeanor. A conviction for driving intoxicated by a controlled substance carries up to one year in county jail and a $1,000 fine. Still, drug counseling and rehabilitation could be available instead of jail time.
Contact a Drug Crime Defense Lawyer for Help
If you were charged with any codeine offense, contact us to review the case details and legal options. Some of the common strategies to challenge the charges include:
- you had a valid prescription;
- you are the victim of mistaken identity;
- false allegations;
- lack of knowledge;
- Illegal search and seizure.
To be convicted on a codeine charge, the prosecutor must prove all the elements of the crime beyond any reasonable doubt.
Maybe we can argue that you were not aware of the illegal codeine found in your vehicle. Perhaps you are the victim of police entrapment, meaning they coerced you into committing a crime you would have otherwise not committed.
Maybe we can argue an illegal search and seizure conducted by law enforcement that violated the search and seizure laws. For example, perhaps the police searched you without a valid search warrant or lacked probable cause that criminal activity occurred.
Perhaps we can file a motion to suppress evidence. If the court grants the motion, the evidence will be excluded, and the prosecutor might drop the charges.
Maybe we can argue that you were unjustly accused, wrongfully arrested, or had insufficient evidence to obtain a conviction.
Perhaps we can negotiate with the prosecutor for lesser charges of case dismissal or persuade them prefiling not to file charges in the first place (DA reject).
Cron, Israels & Stark is located in Los Angeles County. You can contact us for a free case consultation by phone or using the contact form.