Review of California Ecstasy Charges, Penalties, and Defenses
It's a crime to have possession, sell, transport, manufacture, or even be under the influence of ecstasy, which is often called a “molly.” In California, several statutes cover ecstasy, and the criminal charges and penalties always depend on numerous factors.
California Health and Safety Code 11377 HS defines the possession of ecstasy, which is usually a misdemeanor crime. Health and Safety Code 11378 HS defines possession of ecstasy to sell a felony crime.
Health and Safety Code 11379 HS defines the transportation or sales of ecstasy as a felony crime. A conviction under this statute could result in a prison sentence of up to nine years.
Vehicle Code 23152(f) VC defines driving under the influence of ecstasy, which is typically filed as a misdemeanor offense.
Our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys will take a closer look below at the drug laws, penalties if conviction, and some common defense strategies to obtain the best possible outcome on the case.
What Is Ecstasy?
Ecstasy is a prevalent nightclub drug called molly, which is methylenedioxymethamphetamine, known by its acronym MDMA. Ecstasy has unique effects on some users.
The National Institute of Drug Abuse says the effects are similar to a stimulant or hallucinogen and include high energy and pleasure, distorted time, emotional closeness, and elevated mood related to sexual arousal. However, ecstasy is a dangerous narcotic, mainly if used in combination with cocaine, marijuana, or alcohol. Ecstasy has many harmful side effects, such as:
- High anxiety,
- Aggressive behavior,
- Blurred vision and chills,
- Nausea and muscle cramps,
- blurred vision,
- heavy sweating.
As noted, when ecstasy is used along with other known drugs, it is often very harmful and could even cause death.
What are the Laws Regulating Ecstasy?
There are federal and state drug laws that classify ecstasy and other illegal controlled substances such as methamphetamine and cocaine. Under state laws, illegal drugs are classified under five federal Controlled Substance Act schedules, including levels I, II, III, IV, or V depending on its addiction quality, the value for medical treatment, and overall safety when used.
For example, the lower the schedule number, such as I or II, the worse the drug. Further, Schedule I drugs have no accepted medical use and a very high potential for abuse. Under federal and state law, Ecstasy is classified as a Schedule II drug, in the same category as methamphetamines, cocaine, PCP, and others.
What are the Different Types of Ecstasy Related Charges?
Because ecstasy is a federal Schedule II narcotic, it is illegal under California law for different types of drug-related activities. A prosecutor could use ecstasy to file more severe cases, such as the following:
- possession of drugs for sale,
- transportation of drugs,
- trafficking drugs,
- manufacturing drugs,
- drug paraphernalia possession,
- money laundering,
- operation of a drug house.
What are the Possible Penalties if Convicted?
The potential penalties for ecstasy-related convictions in the state of California will always depend on the details of the case discussed below. Possession of small amounts of ecstasy for personal use is a misdemeanor crime defined under California Health and Safety Code 11377(a) HS, carrying a sentence of no more than a year in jail and up to $1,000 fine.
If you have a prior ecstasy-possession conviction, then the misdemeanor will become a felony crime punishable by 16 months, two years, or even three years of imprisonment.
If you possessed ecstasy for sale, which is covered under Health and Safety Code 11378 HS, then it's a felony crime that carries 16 months, 2 or 3 years in prison, and a fine up to $10,000; Health and Safety Code 11379 HS defines the sale or transportation of ecstasy, which carries a sentence of 2 to 9 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000;
Vehicle Code 23152(f) defines driving under the influence of ecstasy, which is usually a misdemeanor crime that carries 3 to 5 years' probation and a driver's license suspension. If you had possession of large amounts of ecstasy, a sentencing enhancement could increase the felony to up to 15 years in prison.
What are the California Drug Diversion Programs?
For the less serious ecstasy offenses, you may be eligible for diversion from criminal court to drug court, which is especially true for a first-time offender on a possession-only charge. Put simply; certain ecstasy charges could qualify for diversion under:
- California Penal Code 1000 PC deferred entry of judgment;
- Proposition 36, or
- California drug court.
We are familiar with the drug offenses that would qualify for diversion and how to apply for this program. If you complete the diversion program, your drug charges will be dismissed.
How Can I Fight Ecstasy Charges?
Our experienced criminal lawyers can make a difference in the outcome of your ecstasy case. It might be reasonable to argue that there was a lack of knowledge about the ecstasy found near you.
In cases where guilt is not in doubt, we might be able to defeat felony charges or enhancements by negotiating the case down to a misdemeanor. Some drug-related charges will rely on evidence from an:
- unlawful search or arrest,
- evidence that the court could suppress,
- police entrapment,
- misconduct by law enforcement or laboratory,
- misconduct by prosecutor,
- fabricating, planting, or altering evidence,
- gaps in the police chain of evidence.
Further, it might be reasonable to make an argument over irregularities in testing and determining the drug type or form. If you have been arrested and charged with any misdemeanor or felony ecstasy-related charges, our criminal defense lawyers can help you.
For example, we will be able to determine if you are eligible for a California drug diversion program that gives you an opportunity for drug treatment rather than jail time. Even better, your drug charges will be dismissed if you complete the diversion.
Through prefiling intervention, we might be able to negotiate with law enforcement and the prosecution to avid the formal filing of criminal charges in the first place. Cron, Israels & Stark is based in Los Angeles County, and our firm offers a free case evaluation by calling 424-372-3112 or filling out our contact form here.