Month: February 2019

Pretrial Diversion for Drug Crimes in California, Part II

This is part II of an in-depth exploration of California’s pretrial diversion program under PC §1000 for certain drug offenses.

As stated in our last post, California’s pretrial diversion program is available for individuals accused of drugs crimes involving simple possession under California Penal Code §1000. Individuals arrested for low-level crimes are able to pursue drug treatment and education in lieu of jail time for resolution of their criminal charges.

What Drugs are Covered Under the PC §1000 Pretrial Diversion Program?

The types of drugs covered by PC §1000 are as follows:

  • Cocaine;
  • Ecstasy (“X”);
  • Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (“GHB”);
  • Heroin;
  • Certain hallucinogenic substances, like asphencyclidine (“PCP”);
  • Ketamine (“Special K”);
  • Marijuana; and
  • Prescription opioids such as codeine and hydrocodone (“Vicodin”)
  • Peyote.

Factors Considered by Court When Offering Pretrial Diversion

An accused person is assessed by the court, not so much for the type of substance at issue, but whether the possession of the drug was for personal use. If the amount of drug seized at arrest is for personal use only, regardless of the type of drug, the court will determine whether the accused person would benefit from drug treatment. If the answer to both questions is a yes, an accused person can avoid jail and a jail sentence following the successful completion of drug treatment court.

Will I be Required to Take a Drug Test During Pretrial Diversion?

Yes. Regular drug testing is generally a requirement for program participation. A failed drug test can lead to an extension of program participation or being kicked-out of drug treatment and proceeding to a bench trial.

The purposes of drug testing in the California criminal justice system are to screen for persons who have recently ingested a drug, to identify chronic drug users, and to monitor and deter drug use. Most tests used to determine the presence of drugs in an individual’s body involve urinalysis.

An accused person can also be kicked out of drug treatment court if he or she is convicted of any felony, violent offense, or an offense with the propensity for violence, or he or she fails to meet a condition of program participation, like drug testing and drug treatment classes.

Addiction is Not a Crime but can Lead to Them

Drug abuse and crime continue to be linked in the minds of the public. A person arrested for simple drug possession because he or she is battling drug addiction can receive help for their addiction in drug treatment court or California’s pretrial diversion program for drug offenders. Our criminal defense lawyers specialize in drug related offenses and could significantly reduce the penalties associated with a drug possession arrest. The Law Offices of James E. Blatt has offices in Beverly Hills and Encino available to help you or a loved one facing criminal charges in Los Angeles. Call us toll-free at (877) 546-2528. We are available 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Speak to a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney today to begin your immediate defense to criminal charges.


Pretrial Diversion for Drug Crimes in California, Part I

California offers pretrial diversion for drug crimes involving simple possession under California Penal Code §1000. Instead of jail time, certain individuals arrested for low-level drug crimes are able to pursue drug treatment and education. Following successful completion of drug treatment court, the criminal charges are dismissed, eliminating the person’s criminal record with respect to that charge.

Before January 1, 2018, the pretrial diversion program was known as deferred entry of judgment. Under the old law, an accused person was required to enter a guilty plea to the drug charge in order to participate in the drug diversion program. If the accused person completed the program, the charges would be dismissed. If the accused person failed to complete the program, the conviction would stand.

Modification to Pretrial Diversion Program

On January 1, 2018, participation in the PC §1000 diversion program was reclassified as a pretrial diversion program. This means that the accused person now pleads “not guilty” to the drug charge and is then permitted to participate in drug treatment.

Like the former deferred entry of judgment program, if the accused person successfully completes the drug treatment program, the charge will be dismissed. If the accused person is unsuccessful, he or she will stand trial and undergo a bench trial. A bench trial means the case is heard and decided by a judge only and the accused person no longer has the right to a trial by jury.  

Eligibility for PC §1000 Diversion

Only individuals charged with simple possession of drugs – for personal use only – are eligible for PC §1000 pretrial diversion. If there are other charges for selling or transporting controlled substances or possession of controlled substances for sale, the individual will not be eligible for pretrial diversion under the California Penal Code, even if the individual is a first-time offender.

The individual charged with simple possession of drugs must meet the following conditions to qualify for drug treatment court:

The accused person must not have been convicted of a non-PC §1000 eligible drug crime within the previous five years;

  • The charged offense must not be violent or have threatened violence;
  • There must be no evidence of any additional and more serious drug offenses related to the arrest, like additional charges for drug possession for sale or drug sale crimes); and
  • The accused person must not have any felony convictions within the proceeding 5 years.

Pretrial Diversion Program Specifics

The pretrial diversion program for certain drug offenses can last between 12 and 18 months. Depending on the individual circumstance of the case however, the program period may be longer. Under the new law, prior participation in a PC §1000 program is no longer a disqualifier for participation in a new PC §1000, so long as no prior felony conviction within the preceding five-year period.

Seek a Knowledgeable Lawyer with Pretrial Diversion Experience in California’s Criminal Justice System

An arrest for simple drug possession does not have to ruin your life. While not easy, drug treatment court offers an opportunity to obtain treatment and get counseling for drug addiction. If successful, you will be on your way to recovery and have the added benefit of no longer having a criminal record associated with the simple drug possession arrest. Contact one of our drug lawyers today to begin your criminal defense. The Law Offices of James E. Blatt with two locations in the greater Los Angeles area has offices in Beverly Hills and Encino to help you. Call us toll-free at (877) 546-2528. We are available 24 hours and seven days a week. Speak to a Los Angeles criminal defense attorneytoday to begin your immediate defense to criminal charges.


Marijuana Possession Crimes in California, Part I

Beginning in 1996, California’s marijuana laws changed with the decriminalization of possession of marijuana (if under 28.5 grams) and legalization of medical marijuana. In 2016, with the passage of Proposition 64, personal marijuana consumption became legal in certain circumstances. The Adult Use of Marijuana Act came into effect on January 1, 2018. Under this law, adults 21 and over may purchase, possess, and consume marijuana so long as its up to 28.5 grams and it is possessed and used in their private residence or in an establishment licensed for marijuana consumption.

California’s Marijuana Possession Laws

In California, it is illegal and chargeable for any person to knowingly or intentionally manufacture, distribute, or possess with intent to manufacture or distribute a controlled substance, and that includes marijuana. (See Business & Professions Code §26000, et. seq. and Health & Safety Code §11000 et. seq., §11357 et. seq., and §11362.7 et. seq.)

However, in California, recreational use of marijuana became legal on January 1, 2018, with the passage of Proposition 64. People age 21 and over may now possess up to one ounce of dried marijuana or eight grams of concentrated cannabis. People may also grow up to six plants for their personal use, subject to restrictions.  

Individuals who exceed these amounts can be charged with a misdemeanor and punished with a fine of up to $500 and/or incarceration for up to six months of time in county jail. Individuals under age 21 can be charged with an infraction if they possess marijuana and be sentenced to a fine (if at least 18 years of age) or to drug counseling or community service (if under 18 years of age).

Simple Possession vs. Possession With Intent to Distribute

Simple possession is considered the lowest category of a drug offense and relates to possession for personal use. Possession with intent to distribute relates to charges involving packaging and distribution of drugs commercially.

Actual vs. Constructive Possession

Possession of drugs can be actual or constructive. Actual possession in Los Angeles, California means that the substance is in the physical custody of the person being charged with possession. For example, the drugs are found in the person’s pocket or hand. Constructive possession means that the drugs are within the dominion and control or reach of the accused person. For example, the drugs are in the person’s backpack.

Seek a Knowledgeable Lawyer With Marijuana Crimes Experience

Los Angeles drug statutes and the various drug schedules and classifications are intricate and complicated. It is important for a person charged with a drug crime to have the assistance of an experienced Los Angeles, CA drug lawyer to navigate through the California criminal justice system and work collaboratively toward proving reasonable doubt and ultimately resolving the criminal case. Contact one of our drug lawyers today to begin your criminal defense. The Law Offices of James E. Blatt has offices in Beverly Hills and Encino to help you. Call us toll-free at (877) 546-2528. We are available 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Speak to a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney today to begin your immediate defense to criminal charges.


The California Control of Profits of Organized Crime Act

Criminal Profiteering in California mirrors the federal charge of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO), and is intended to penalize a pattern of criminal behavior stemming from organized crime. Otherwise called California Control of Profits of Organized Crime, being charged under this statute is serious and should be treated as such.

While there are meritorious defenses to criminal profiteering, note that prosecutors tend to use these charges mainly when communities are riddled with organized crime. Learn more about the Act and how to prepare your defense of these allegations.

What is Considered Criminal Profiteering Activity?

Chapter 9 of the California Penal Code discusses criminal profiteering in great detail, including what activity must transpire in order for charges to be filed. With organized crime being the common denominator in many charges filed under Chapter 9, the burden of proof is much stronger for prosecutors, which is the reason these charges are reserved for when there is absolute certainty.

Organized crime is defined as that which is conspiratorial in nature, with activity ranging from prostitution, illegal loans (loan sharking), narcotic sales and gambling, to mayhem (as defined in Section 203), pimping and pandering, grand theft, welfare fraud, fraud against California’s beverage container program, and even forcing those under 18 to commit the above offenses. In all, CPC lists 34 crimes.

Any combination of two crimes within a 10-year period with the intent to financially benefit a criminal organization can be charged as criminal profiteering. Once filed, prosecution will file a Verified Petition for Asset Forfeiture along with charges indicative of the crime committed.

Penalties and Defenses to Criminal Profiteering

When imposing penalties, prosecutors are more interested in stopping the flow of money. Therefore, placing state liens on property, bank accounts and other assets which “dirty” money purchased seems the best remedy. The financial trial normally happens after the criminal portion takes place, however.

Sentencing in the criminal trial depends on the crimes that contributed to the ill-gotten gains. Expect the penalties to range between probation and years behind bars, depending on the seriousness of crime and one’s past record.

There are some situations in which individuals may own property that was used in criminal profiteering activity, but did not actually commit the crime. After the trials are over, the property owner must petition the government to remove liens or take back control of their property.

Defenses to criminal profiteering include not knowing the activity was taking place on the property or within a shared bank account, defendant was not near the crimes when they took place, and others.

Defendants Should Retain Counsel

Accusations of criminal profiteering have serious implications for one’s freedom, property, and other assets. If you have been charged with this and any subsequent offenses, your future depends on what criminal defense you choose.

So many defenses to profiteering exist that you may actually beat your charges. To preserve your assets and keep your criminal record clean, contact an attorney the minute you have been accused or are under investigation for criminal profiteering or similar offenses.