As a California drug transportation criminal defense attorney who discusses new CA law related to drug crimes, I thought it would be good to review the recent statute (AB 721). For decades now, a person who was arrested with a small amount of narcotics including cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine in California including Los Angeles and Orange County could be charged not only with simple possession of drugs but also transportation of drugs which allowed prosecutors to seek prison time against defendants and make it harder for persons charged with drug possession to get a matter dismissed through Diversion otherwise known as Deferred Entry of Judgment (DEJ).
With the passage of California Assembly Bill AB 721, the term “transportation” of drugs for purposes of criminal charges under California Health and Safety Code section 11352 and 11379 changes the legal definition of “transportation” to “transportation for purposes of sale.” The practical effect of this law change means that prosecutors in California will have to prove that a person who is caught with transporting drugs such as marijuana in their car were transporting the drugs for purposes of sale in or to get a conviction. This new law will allow an experienced criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles, Orange or any other county in California to defend a person who is charged with simple possession and transportation of drugs to argue that the transportation charge should be dismissed that there is no proof that the defendant intend to sell the drugs.
This law will protect many persons who are arrested anywhere in the Golden State for possession of medical marijuana as it is customary for persons who are arrested while transporting even less than an ounce of marijuana to be charged with not only possession but also transportation of marijuana which would expose a person to receiving prison time based on the amount being transported. It is conceivable that even a person transporting a large amount of marijuana to deliver to their collective would have a viable defense against a transportation charge since they are delivering the marijuana for the collective not for the purposes of selling the marijuana to non-collective members. If the collective is selling the marijuana at a high cost to its members, a knowledgeable prosecutor could argue that the transportation is for sale but a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney can successful defend this type of prosecution by holding the prosecutor to the true definition of transportation as it is now codified into law under AB 721.
However, if a person is transporting marijuana or other drugs such as cocaine or methamphetamine with other evidence which indicates that the transportation is for sale, they could be convicted even under the new law. Typically, facts that prosecutors argue indicate transportation is for the purposes of sale are the amount of drugs being transported, the amount of money found on the person arrested, whether the drugs are separately packaged into smaller quantities, whether there are other items found indicating the person is involved in drug sales such as a scale and whether the person is found with any type of weapon such as a gun. If such items are found on a person, typically the person would be charged with possession for sale of drugs as opposed to simple possession along with a charge of transportation.
Clearly, the new AB 721 will help attorneys in California defend their clients against transportation of drug charges. Moreover, other defenses including claiming a stop and search of a vehicle was an illegal search and seizure in violation of the 4thamendment still are effective arguments in defending a drug case which an experienced criminal defense lawyer can explain to a person who is arrested for transportation, possession and possession for sale of drugs including marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin.