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Heroin is a highly addictive opioid that’s classified as a Schedule 1 drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act, which means that it has no current acceptable use in the United States. The use, possession and sale of heroin is also specifically forbidden under California State law.
If you’ve been accused of a crime involving heroin in Los Angeles, it’s important to seek qualified legal representation right away. Even simple possession of the drug can be charged as a felony, but an experienced attorney who specializes in California drug crimes can help you safeguard your legal rights in this matter.
California Health and Safety Code 11350 HS
In California, heroin is classified as a controlled substance, and it’s illegal to possess a controlled substance without a prescription. The statute uses a “constructive possession” standard, which means that the drugs don’t have to be on your person to quality as “possession;” they can also be in any areas over which you have control like your bedroom or your car. Another part of California Health and Safety Code 11350 HS makes it illegal to be under the influence of heroin even if you are not in physical possession of the drug while California Vehicle Code 23152a VC makes it illegal to drive under the influence of heroin.
Crimes that violate California Health and Safety Code 11350 HS can be charged as either a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 364 days in a county jail, or as a felony, punishable by up to three years in a state prison. In both instances, the court has the discretion to allow you to enter a substance abuse rehabilitation program, and if you successfully complete this program, charges may be dismissed.
California Health and Safety Code 11351 HS
California considers possession of heroin with an intent to sell a far more serious crime than possession for personal use. Since heroin is listed on the federal controlled substances list, if you are convicted of this state offense, you could also be facing federal charges.
Possessing or purchasing heroin with the intent to sell will be charged as a felony. Penalties depend upon the amount of heroin found in your possession. If you’re discovered with less than one kilogram, you face up to four years in a state prison and a fine of up to $20,000. If you’re discovered with more than kilogram, you could be facing up to 25 additional years in state prison and a fine of up to $8,000,000. Drug diversion programs are not an option for individuals convicted of this offense.
California Health and Safety Code 11352 HS
If you are transporting heroin in California with the intent to sell it, penalties are even stiffer. If convicted of this crime, you may be sentenced to a fine of up to $20,000 and up to five years in a state prison. If you’re convicted of transporting heroin across two or more county lines, you could be sentenced to up to nine years in a state prison.
This crime carries enhanced penalties. If you have a prior conviction involving a controlled substance or if you’ve been found with more than 14.25 grams of heroin, you could be looking at a $50,000 fine.
Health and Safety Code 11365 HS
If you’re present while someone is using heroin, and your behavior could be construed as encouraging the use of this controlled substance, you can be charged under this statute with a misdemeanor crime.
If you’re accused of a crime related to heroin possession or its use, it’s important to engage the services of an attorney with experience in this type of representation as soon as you can. You have legal rights and options, and a lawyer who understands the complicated public health and criminal issues that surround heroin use can be an invaluable resource.