What to do first

If you have been arrested, or think you may be in the future, it is important to know what you should, and should not do, when dealing with police and law enforcement.  You must request that your attorney be present with you during all law enforcement questioning, assuming we agree to discuss anything with law enforcement.  Remember, you have the absolute right tor remain silent and not say a word.

If the police continue to question you after you have made a request for an attorney, a judge may throw out everything that you say after that point, even if there is a full confession or other incriminating statements are made.

Drug cases may present certain circumstances where a person may want to speak to law enforcement or clarify certain things.  Remember to discuss this with your attorney first and let your attorney be the one speaking on your behalf.

Types of charges

While some of the more recent laws have reduced the potential consequences for some drug offenses, it is important to know that those laws do not apply to all of the common drug crimes.  A drug offense conviction can still lead to negative consequences that include being convicted of a felony, losing your job, being disciplined by a governmental agency if you hold a license with the state, and even the ability to obtain a loan.

Drug charges most commonly include

  • Drug Possession
  • Drug Use
  • Possession for Sale
  • Drug Trafficking
  • Drug Cultivation/Manufacturing

Generally speaking, drug charges fall into two categories: possession (personal use and, in cases with significant volume, possession for sales) and trafficking/distribution.  Possession tend to be misdemeanors while trafficking/distribution tend to be charged as felonies.

In California, you cannot possess a controlled substance unless you have a valid prescription.  The government must show that you illegally possessed the controlled substance (actually or constructively), that you were aware of the presence of the substance on your person or in your control, knew the drug was considered a controlled substance, and that you possessed a usable quantity.  Actual possession is when you have it on your person, constructive possession is when you are caught with drugs in your general vicinity (reaching distance, in a car where you’re sole occupant, etc).

In order to be prosecuted for drug trafficking and/or distribution under California Health and Safety Code 11352, someone must 1) sell, furnish, administer, give away, transport, import a controlled substance, 2) with the knowledge the substance in question is a controlled one, 3) with knowledge the drug is present, 4) the quantity was a usable amount.

Factors on whether a drug crime is charged as a felony or misdemeanor include

  • The amount and type of the substance (marijuana vs. fentanyl or heroin)
  • Whether the person arrested possessed the drugs for personal use vs. distribution
  • Many other miscellaneous circumstances (firearm present, in a school zone, gang-related activity, etc.)


Due to the wide varying factors in drug cases, penalties can range from jail or prison time, probation, fines, community service or even drug rehabilitation programs.  It is important to have an attorney with knowledge of all the possible resources available to someone facing a drug charge and be able to aggressively pursue the option that allows the client to keep their freedom while being able to take advantage of rehabilitation.  Attorney Ross Erlich has handled hundreds of drug offense cases and knows the value of working with police, prosecutors and those able to provide rehabilitation.

In many drug offense cases, important factors are the type and classification of the substance, the amount seized, location of the substance, packaging and all other surrounding circumstances of the arrest.  Many possession crimes now are simple misdemeanors which can be handled through a formal or informal diversion with the prosecutors office.  This diversion requires you to be a first-time drug offense offender, not be charged with any other non-possession crimes, not have any previous felony convictions within 5 previous years of the arrest and have not have any revocations of probation or parole on your record.

Additionally, Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Ross Erlich can assist in placing you or your loved one in an in-patient or out-patient drug treatment facility, which also helps to resolve one’s case more favorably.

Also keep in mind that just because possessing marijuana in California is now no longer a crime, there are still many crimes on the books that involve it.  Possession for sale, transportation, manufacturing/cultivation, driving while under the influence of marijuana and others.  In many possession for sales cases, critical facts include the intent to sell.  Prosecutors look to the evidence to prove this in the form of large quantities of the drugs, scales, baggies, large quantity of money, multiple cell phones and even payment ledgers.

Defenses to drug possession cases can include the police conducting an unreasonable search and seizure on you or your property (without probable cause), momentary/incidental possession of the substance, no actual control or possession of the substance, lack of knowledge or awareness of the substance, a valid prescription or the lack of any intent to sell the substance.

Contact Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer Ross Erlich if you have been charged with a drug offense so that your rights and interests are aggressively protected.

Attorney Ross Erlich

If you or someone you know has been charged with a drug crime, it is important to contact Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer Ross Erlich as soon as possible so that the proper investigation and fact-gathering can be done on the case.  It is also imperative to have an attorney represent them from the moment they get wind of an arrest.

Attorney Ross Erlich knows how, and when, to challenge the sufficiency of the evidence, or even file a motion asking the judge to throw out some of that evidence from the case.  Attorney Ross Erlich knows when to leverage plea deals, how to best position his client to negotiate those deals to avoid a conviction for a drug crime, or, when appropriate, get a reduction in the charges or pursue a diversion that would prevent any conviction from occurring in the first place.

Because these charges are serious and are prosecuted aggressively, it is important that Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer Ross Erlich examine all possible avenues for resolving the matter including AA classes, drug and/or alcohol treatment programs, both in-patient and out-patient, counseling and the like.

For aggressive and vigorous defense of your rights, contact Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer Ross Erlich today.

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