Orange County Ecstasy Defense Attorney
Drug Defense for Synthetic Drug Charges (CA Health & Safety Code Section 11377)
Ecstasy/MDMA (methylenedioxymethamphetamine) is a synthetically manufactured drug that is commonly found in “party scenes” due to its euphoric capabilities. The state of California classifies it as a Schedule I non-narcotic controlled substance and charges can vary between misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the circumstances of your case. Its popularity among younger groups has driven Orange County prosecutors to come down hard on individuals caught with ecstasy, even if it is only for personal use.
Whether you are being charged with possession, intent to sell, trafficking, or have a prior conviction, you need the expertise and legal aid of an Orange County criminal defense attorney. Contact the Law Office of Michael L. Guisti at (714) 530-9690 or toll free at (888) 478-8999 to ensure you receive a fair defense in a California courtroom.
Possession of Ecstasy Penalties
Possession of ecstasy is a violation of California Health & Safety Code Section 11377 and is classified as a misdemeanor crime. However, this charge can quickly become a felony if you have been convicted of a serious felony or are on the California registered sex offender list.
Depending on the circumstances, ecstasy possession may lead to a charge of:
- Possession for personal use: Up to one-year in a California county jail and/or up to a $1,000 fine.
- Possession with a prior serious felony conviction and/or are on the California registered sex offender list: Up to 16-months to two or three years in a California county jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
However, to be charged with possession of ecstasy, the district attorney must prove that:
- You possessed ecstasy on your person or property (house, apartment, car, work locker, etc.);
- You were aware that you possessed ecstasy on your person or property;
- You possessed enough ecstasy to be used; and
- You were aware of that the substance you possessed was ecstasy.
Possession With the Intent To Sell
Having large quantities of ecstasy can lead to a charge of possession with the intent to sell (Health & Safety Code 11378). Under these circumstances, the distract attorney assumes that you had purchased or manufactured ecstasy with the purpose of distributing the drug. This is a felony charge in California and can come with the punishment of:
- Up to 16-months to two or three years in a California county jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
To prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intended to sell ecstasy, the prosecution must demonstrate, in addition to the elements listed above, that:
- You possessed a large enough quantity of ecstasy to sell; and
- You had the intent of selling the drug.
Because this is an intent crime, you may receive a reduced sentence if you had acquired the drug for personal use and there was not a large enough quantity to suggest you planned on selling it. When determining how much ecstasy warrants intent to sell, the prosecution will argue that you had more than what a reasonable person can consume. The vague nature of this quantity can allow your criminal defense attorney to argue for reduced charges.
Trafficking Ecstasy Charges
Trafficking a controlled substance is one of the most serious drug crimes you can be charged with and is a violation of CA HS 11379. The laws categorize the transportation, distribution, and manufacturing of ecstasy under the umbrella of trafficking charges, which can include:
- Transportation of a controlled substance: Two, three, or four years in a state prison and/or a $10,000 fine;
- If the controlled substance was transported across two county lines: three, six, or nine years in a state prison;
If the controlled substance was transported across state lines, then this becomes a violation of federal law (21 U.S.C. Section 841) and can lead to the involvement of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Depending on the nature of the crime, you may face:
- Up to 20 years in a federal prison for your first offense and/or a $1 million fine; or
- Up to 30 years for a second offense and/or a $2 million fine.
These charges can be enhanced if a death or injury occurred or if more than one individual was involved in the crime.
Bottom line, possession, intent to sell, and trafficking ecstasy can lead to serious jail time and drastically change the course of your life, even if you only possessed a small amount. To combat these charges, you need an equally aggressive defense.
Defending Against Drug Charges
The prosecution will attempt to pressure you into believe that they have an open and shut case, but there are several arguments that can be made on your behalf to have your charges reduced or dismissed. Based on what the DA needs to secure a conviction, your criminal defense attorney may demonstrate that:
- You were not aware that you had ecstasy in your possession. After a party or leaving a nightclub, a friend of yours may have left the drugs in your car or placed it in your jacket pocket to avoid being arrested by the police and to place the blame on you. Defenses based on lack of awareness are difficult, but can help lay the groundwork for a dismissal if you had no prior history with drugs or convictions.
- To prove you intended to sell ecstasy, the DA must demonstrate that you had more than enough to be consumed by multiple people or that the nature of the drugs suggested you planned on dealing them. This can include storing them in multiple plastic bags, large amounts of cash, and other evidence that suggest a business transaction could take place. However, if you only have a small amount on your possession and there is no evidence supporting you were going to sell it, then you could only be charged with possession.
- Searches and seizures cannot be done without a warrant or probable cause, meaning that an officer must have a reason to suspect you have a controlled substance or a weapon in your possession to search you or your car. Living in a neighborhood with a high crime rate does not give an officer the jurisdiction to search your vehicle or home, and any evidence found against you could be suppressed in court by your attorney.
- Officers can also not compel you to sell ecstasy as a part of a sting operation and then charge you for it.
Drug Diversion Programs
For individuals charged with possession, the state of California has develop two key pieces of legislation that allow you to reduce your sentencing through a drug diversion program: Prop 36 and Penal Code 1000. While these two laws are similar, there are some key differences that may limit your eligibility to one or the other.
Prop 36 allows first or second time, non-violent offenders to request being placed in a drug diversion program instead of county jail, which includes education about the negative side-effects of drug abuse, rehabilitation, counseling, and after-care treatment. It requires the completion of a 12-month program that can be extended to 18 or 24-months. To be eligible, you must have been charged with under the influence of ecstasy or possession for personal use. This option is also available for defendants who are on parole and are charged with possession.
However, Prop 36 is not an option if you were charged with a violent crime in conjunction with the possession charge or have received a strike under California’s Three Strikes Laws in the last five years since you were released from prison. You may also have not been charged with carrying a loaded firearm or prescription fraud in addition to the ecstasy charges. The Prop 36 drug diversion program is also not an option for third-time offenders.
In contrast, Penal Code 1000 has many of the same requirements, but with slight modifications:
- It is only available to defendants charged with possession or under the influence.
- You cannot have been charged with a related violent crime.
- You cannot have any prior drug convictions.
- You cannot have not completed a program in the last five years.
- You can request this program if you have violated the Three Strikes Law.
If accepted into this program, you are only required to complete five to six months of rehabilitation and will need to be on probation for 12-months, after which your charges will be dismissed if you have not committed another crime.
When you speak with your criminal defense attorney, he will explain to your what options available to you, the requirements of each program, and which is the best solution for you. These programs may not be necessary if your attorney can have the charges dismissed in court.
A juvenile charged with an ecstasy-related drug crime will generally be processed in juvenile court and be charged as a delinquent, with some exceptions. If an officer catches your child with ecstasy on their person, it is possible that they may merely give them a warning, but for more serious offenses there may be significant more devastating penalties.
A juvenile may be charged as a delinquent and be required to:
- Complete probation and a substance abuse program
- Fulfill a drug diversion program
- Be placed in a juvenile detention hall, if the charge is intent to sell or trafficking
If your child has been charged with an drug crime, do not leave it up to the courts to decide the fate of his or her life. The Law Office of Michael L. Guisti have seen first-hand how drug charges radically alter the course of someone’s life, even if they are underage, and has the necessary expertise to build a defense on their behalf.
Defending Your Rights After a Drug Crime
Drug charges, however small, can impact your ability to get a job, apply for housing, continue your education, and affect your relations if you are convicted. Whether you are facing misdemeanor or felony charges, you deserve sound legal advice during the entire process.
From the moment you are arrested in Orange County, you should contact the Law Office of Michael L. Guisti at (714) 530-9690 or toll free at (888) 478-8999. Our lead Orange County drug crime attorney can immediately begin investigating your case, building a defense, and negotiating a lesser charge or dismissal of the case from the prosecution. Do not rely on the mercy of the courts to determine your future. Secure aggressive representation to defend yourself against ecstasy charges.
Whether you're facing a felony or a misdemeanor, don't risk a conviction. Act quickly to redeem your reputation and protect your record by consulting with our Orange County criminal defense lawyer. Call today to schedule your free consultation.