Many of our clients ask how a charge is determined by the district or city attorney. When will the charge be a Possession of a controlled substance for sale, and when will it be a Possession of a controlled substance. The difference is significant, as it can determine which potential consequences a person may face, and whether or not they face a possibility of jail time.
The determination is made by taking a look at the circumstances and the specific facts of the case. The officers who arrest and charge the person will make a determination and prepare the citation accordingly. It will then be sent to the Court so that the prosecutor can make a determination of whether the charge rises to the level of a Possession for sale, which is a lot more serious than a simple possession.
For example, let’s say that a person has been stopped by officers while he is driving his care for a routine traffic stop. Officers then smell marijuana when the driver opens his window, this gives officers probable cause to search the vehicle. When searching the vehicle, they find a small bag of marijuana between the two driver’s seats, and neither driver has a medical marijuana prescription for its possession.
In the previous scenario, there is no evidence that the marijuana is for sale. There is a small amount, the driver’s seem to have used it themselves, and it is the only drug and amount of marijuana found in the vehicle. The officers will likely only charge the driver and possibly his passenger with a Possession of a controlled substance. There is also an additional charge under the California Vehicle Code for possession of a controlled substance in a vehicle, which could also be a possible violation. Furthermore, both people charged may have the possible defense of a medical marijuana prescription, if it can be proven that they had a legal reason to be in possession of marijuana.
Let’s consider a twist on the facts of the hypothetical. Let’s say the driver is stopped by officers and officers search the car. They find about 10 identical bags of marijuana that all weight the same. They also find a bundle of cash and a small scale that can be used to weight different substances. In this situation, the potential consequences may be a lot more serious. The facts point to a strong argument that the drugs in possession are for sale. The charge will be under Possession for Sale, instead of a simple Possession. In this case, the driver and possibly the passenger will have a harder time providing a defense even if they are legally allowed to be in possession of marijuana due to a medical marijuana prescription.
An experienced Los Angeles Drug Offenses Lawyer has dealt with thousands of cases similar to the one outlined above. In situations where it is a simple Possession charge, a strong defense can be prepared that will ensure the best possible changes of having the charge dismissed or reduced. In the more serious situation where the charge is a possession for sale, the argument and evidence gathered must be a lot stronger and will take some time to prepare before the case can be successfully dismissed or reduced.