For many people, being arrested for heroin possession the terrible result of a difficult addiction. It’s humiliating and it’s stressful. Not only will people know about your possible drug problem, you could be going to jail for several months or even years. Possession charges can change your life, but a defense lawyer may be able to help.
Possession charges are typically levied after a search is conducted by police. Maybe they found the heroin in your car or your pocket. But what led them to search you is of utmost importance. If it’s found that the search was, for any reason, in violation of your constitutional rights, there’s a chance the charges could be dropped.
A local heroin possession attorney will be able to look at your case and see what defense strategies are viable given the circumstances. From challenging the search to disputing the police report, your attorney is often the only person on your side during this difficult time.
California Heroin Possession Penalties
Possession of heroin is now classified as a misdemeanor in most cases in California, thanks to proposition 47 from 2014. This means you can face up to a year in county jail if convicted, as well as fines of up to $1,000.
It’s rare, however, that people are sentenced to these harshest of penalties. Instead, you are more likely to be ordered to probation or other manageable penalties, with proper legal representation advocating for you.
Sentencing Alternatives & Plea Options in Heroin Possession Cases
There are several ways in which a person can avoid jail time on a possession charge. Many of these options are designed specifically to help the drug offender get treatment for their addiction. Because heroin is such an addictive drug, this can present a unique opportunity if you want to get clean.
Most people can’t afford private drug treatment facilities. But, if you are charged with heroin possession, you may be able to receive treatment as part of your sentence.
Proposition 36 is one such option. This program requires participants to take part in a year of probation and treatment. The Department of Health will help determine whether inpatient or outpatient treatment would best suit your needs.
Drug Courts offer another alternative and they are present throughout the state. Similar to probation, participants are required to attend counseling, treatment, and other programs, all while under the supervision of the court. Frequent judicial reviews are also a requirement here.
Deferred Judgment refers to an option where you participate in probation for a set period of time. If you are successful and you remain arrest free, the case against you is dismissed. Deferred judgment is usually only available for first-time offenders.
If you’ve been charged with heroin possession, we can put you in touch with a local defense attorney. Call us today.
Possession for Sale of Heroin
Selling of heroin is always a serious felony under California law. The penalty for sale of any control substance is prison of from 3-5 years and fines of up to $20,000.
CA Heath & Safety Code Section 11352
If you are accused of selling over 14 1/4 grams, the fine increases to $50,000.
Heroin Use in California
Much has been said about the opioid crisis across the United States, and California has been victim to it as well.
More and more people are graduating from prescription narcotics to the much stronger, much cheaper, and far more lethal, heroin. According to the Fresno Bee, Mexican traffickers have tried to clean up the drug’s image, showing even teenagers can casually use heroin without shooting it directly into their veins. Unfortunately, in their marketing campaign, they are failing to disclose the addictive nature and very illegal classification of the drug.
Communities across the country are seeing a similar shift, where a few years ago prescription drugs like oxycontin were the drug of choice, and now it’s heroin. The reasons are simple—it’s cheaper, it’s more potent, and with states tightening prescription drug regulations, it’s often easier to find.
Law enforcement officials in California have confiscated more heroin in the first half of 2011 than they did in all of 2010. While this Fresno Bee article seems to suggest that heroin is only popular among the “young” and teens, they are referring also to people in their twenties and early thirties.
In the Valley, heroin remains a second choice among addicts to methamphetamine, which accounts for 40% of substance abuse treatment admissions. However, substance abuse centers have seen a slight rise in admissions for heroin abuse, up to 11% in 2010-11 compared with 9.6% of their admissions in 2009-10.
On a national level, first time heroin users are up. In 2009 there were 180,000 people aged 12 or older who used heroin for the first time. This was up from years prior where the average ranged between 91,000 to 118,000. Officials believe this number will continue to rise as the price of heroin continues to fall and supply from Mexico increases.
Speaking to the addictive nature of heroin, Alex Stalcup, a drug treatment doctor states, “We haven’t seen as much heroin since the ‘70s, when we lost a whole generation, and after 35 years of treatment only one in eight is off the drug if they are still alive.”
The difference between the heroin on the streets now and back then is the quality. Black tar heroin from Mexico was often made more quickly with less care to quality. Now, however, the Mexican traffickers have become more competitive with Asian and Colombian markets, causing purity levels of Mexican heroin to rise from 40-50% to 90%.
Heroin is a highly addictive drug and it’s expected to cause havoc if the numbers continue to climb.