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Phencyclidine, also known by its acronym PCP, is a schedule II drug in California and is known to law enforcement officials as an extremely dangerous substance. When sold on the streets, it is known by many code names including angel dust and zoom — effects of ingesting or smoking street PCP can include intense hallucinations, physical numbness, confusion, and mood alteration. The Uniform Controlled Substances Act in California imposes harsh penalties on those who sell, transport or purchase PCP, and has even criminalized the manufacture of certain chemicals known to act as precursors or bases for PCP. People from Los Angeles who are accused of possession, intent to sell, or distribution of PCP face severe legal penalties and must retain the services of an experienced lawyer to have any chance at avoiding jail time or massive fines.
Possession of PCP
Although a possession charge is the least troublesome of the enumerated PCP-related crimes, conviction can carry with it harsh financial and punitive consequences. Possession can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, and the prosecution must prove not only that the confiscated substance was PCP, but that the PCP was in usable form and clearly possessed by the accused party. Misdemeanor possession charges only carry up to a $1000 fine, but felony charges can carry up to three years in prison if the accused has a lengthy criminal history or there were minors involved in the case.
Intent to Sell PCP
This charge is more serious than simple possession — a conviction on this felony charge can carry with it a prison sentence of up to three years, but the sentence can be further extended to up to 15 years if the accused was in possession of more than one kilogram (8 gallons liquid volume) at the time of arrest. Jail sentences can also be extended if the arrest took place in a school zone or near a drug treatment center.
Obviously, the threshold of proof is higher for law enforcement in intent to distribute cases. The prosecution must clearly show proof of sales or behavior thought to be synonymous with intent to sell — this includes possession of scales, burner cell phones, sales records or packaging bags.
Transporting, Selling or Manufacturing PCP
This trio of charges is the holy grail for law enforcement. Each felony charge, and manufacture in particular, is associated with high fines and long prison sentences. Sales and transportation charges often go hand in hand, and sentences can be as long as nine years if the transport driver is found to have crossed two California county lines with the PCP. These cases often hinge on informant information or the gathering of heavy surveillance footage. Manufacture is defined very broadly in California — the manufacturer can still receive a sentence of 7 years and a fine of $50,000 even if he or she does not complete the batch.
What Can a Lawyer Trained in PCP-Related Cases Do For You?
The fact that the burden of proof is on the prosecution gives the defense a lot of leeway to argue about seemingly insignificant or minute aspects of the case. Defense lawyers can question every point in the prosecution’s argument — they are trained to review search warrant procedure and search legality, negotiate cases down from felonies to misdemeanors, and challenge eyewitness and informant accounts about intent to sell or distribute. A tenacious legal firm is exactly what you need on your side as someone who has been arrested and accused of a PCP-related crime. The insider knowledge and special relationships that these firms bring to the table are priceless, and could be the difference between a jail sentence and a slap on the wrist.
Call a Los Angeles PCP lawyer as soon as possible to start the inquiry into your case with a detailed consultation.