California is known for its tolerant and somewhat relaxed stance against recreational drug use. Many drug crimes that once led to a substantial sentence in state prison are now charged as misdemeanors since Proposition 47 passed the vote in 2014.
While you might think this is good news, and it often is, understand that you can still face significant legal trouble for certain drug offenses. For example, a charge of simple cocaine possession (a misdemeanor) will not lead to a prison sentence, but selling cocaine likely will — even if you just sell a little extra to a friend to support your habit.
Is selling cocaine to a friend the same as drug distribution?
Essentially they are the same thing and typically receive harsh treatment in California courts. The sentence handed down upon conviction for distributing drugs like cocaine depends on several factors such as:
- Whether the drug is a controlled substance
- Whether the defendant has a record
- The activity the defendant was engaged in
The drug distribution law covers several related activities in addition to merely selling or distributing cocaine. For example, if you get caught transporting cocaine between non-contiguous California counties, your sentence may be even harsher (possibly up to nine years in state prison).
If the alleged activity occurred near a school, playground (while open) or where a school event is underway, you will face even more legal problems. The authorities have a right to enhance the penalties for drug crimes occurring in places where children gather.
It is unwise to take any drug charge lightly, as it could mean the difference between walking away and serving time behind bars. Instead, adopt a proactive approach by learning more about drug crimes in California and hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney. The knowledge they have can play a vital role in creating an effective defense.