Possessing marijuana for recreational use is legal in California, but there are still laws against trafficking it. Only approved vendors can cultivate and sell marijuana legally, and moving more than the amount allowed for personal use is a serious offense. Depending on the situation, a marijuana trafficking offense can lead to serious criminal charges. Having a Fresno marijuana trafficking attorney on your side may help you avoid jail time and other penalties. California law enforcement officials take marijuana trafficking and other drug-related offenses seriously. If you face accusations of any drug crime, your freedom and future could be in jeopardy. At Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer, Fresno drug attorney Mike McKneely is ready to go to work for you. Call us today at (559) 443-7442 to discuss your case.
California Cannabis Trafficking Laws
California Health and Safety Codes 11357 – 11362.9 outline several crimes involving the distribution of marijuana. If you face a marijuana trafficking charge, it is likely based on these statutes.
Specifically, this Health and Safety Code makes it illegal to import or transport marijuana, or to sell, supply, or give it away without being a licensed dispensary and paying the appropriate fees and taxes. It also defines how much marijuana one can possess for “personal use,” and clarifies laws about synthetic cannabis products.
Potential Penalties for a Fresno Marijuana Trafficking Conviction
California Health and Safety Code § 11357 lays out the penalties for transporting, importing, selling, or providing – or offering to furnish or transport – marijuana. For those over the age of 18, the penalties may include:
- Up to six months in a county jail
- A fine of up to $1,000
- Both a fine and confinement
The penalties may differ for those under the age of 18, those with previous drug-related convictions, or those who imported marijuana or moved it across state lines.
If we cannot prevent your conviction, we will fight aggressively to reduce the penalties you face. We understand that sometimes people make mistakes, but we do not believe you should lose your job, spend significant time in jail, or take money away from your family because of it.
The Prosecution’s Case Against You
To get a guilty verdict in your case, the prosecution must provide evidence to meet a high burden of proof. It must show beyond a reasonable doubt that you:
- Transported, sold, or provided marijuana, or that you would be willing to do so
- Knew it was illegal for you to do so
- Knew the marijuana was present or knew you had possession of it
It must also show:
- The substance was actually marijuana or an illegal synthetic
- There was a sufficient amount for a distribution offense, more than allowed for personal use
Often, we can call into question the prosecution’s ability to prove one or more of these elements before the case ever goes to trial. This may allow us to ask the judge to dismiss the charges against you or give us good footing to request the prosecution reduce your charges.
Possible Defenses to a Marijuana Trafficking Charge
Every case is different, and the best defense for you depends heavily on the facts of your case. When we discuss your situation, we will listen carefully to your priorities and goals, and your best-case scenario. Once we understand what you hope to accomplish, we can build a strong defense on your behalf, based on your goals and the facts of your case.
Some of the more common defenses we use in marijuana trafficking cases include:
You Had No Knowledge of the Drugs
In some cases, we can assert you had no knowledge the drugs at all, e.g., a passenger in your car had them. If you did not know you were transporting the drugs, the state cannot hold you responsible for trafficking them. We can also sometimes argue that you did not know the substance was marijuana, depending on the situation.
Mistakes or Misconduct by Law Enforcement
When police make mistakes or intentionally act in a way that is inappropriate, it can help your case. We can ask the court to throw out your case, or specific evidence illegally gathered, if law enforcement violated your civil rights.
Most commonly this occurs because of an illegal search and seizure. The Fourth Amendment offers protection from this sort of invasion of privacy, so officers cannot search your vehicle or home without your permission unless they have a search warrant. Another example is entrapment. Police officers can entrap law-abiding citizens, drawing them into a situation where they convince them to offer to do something they would normally never do – in this case, trafficking marijuana.
The Police Arrested the Wrong Person
Mistaken identity occurs more often than you might think. All too often, the police identify the wrong person and arrest them, when the drugs actually belong to a roommate, friend, family member, or even a stranger. Most commonly, this happens when police uncover cannabis in a car or house with a lot of people, or a number of people have access to the space or the vehicle.
Talk to a California Marijuana Trafficking Attorney in Fresno Today
If you face marijuana trafficking charges in Fresno, you deserve to have a strong defense attorney on your side. Fresno criminal defense attorney Mike McKneely from Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer can help you fight for an exoneration or minimize potential penalties. We can work with you to get the best possible outcome in your case, based on your own needs. Contact our office today at (559) 443-7442 for a free initial consultation, and learn more about how our team can help you.