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Los Angeles Cocaine Defense Lawyers

Drug Crime Defense Attorneys in Los Angeles Helping People Accused of Crimes Related to Cocaine

Cocaine is known by many names - coke, blow, snow and powder, but there are really too many to list. It can be snorted, smoked, or injected. It's highly addictive, and users face serious risks to their health, including death by overdose.

Under the United States Controlled Substances Act, cocaine is considered a “controlled substance,” meaning that is it illegal to sell, use, or possess it without a prescription or for other recognized medical use. Cocaine is generally considered a Schedule II drug, due to the fact that it (1) carries a high potential for abuse, and (2) the likelihood that abuse will lead to addiction.  In addition, the possession and sale of cocaine is illegal under California law, and there are significant legal penalties that can be imposed on the state level.

As a result, being charged with the possession or sale of cocaine is a very serious matter. You could be facing serious jail time, damage to your reputation, and thousands of dollars in fines.  The Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers of the Law Offices of David S. Chesley helps people facing cocaine charges get a fair result, whether that means getting the charges completely dismissed, avoiding jail time, or negotiating the best plea deal possible. We offer our clients aggressive representation with over 50 years of courtroom experience. If you’d like a free consultation, call us at 800-755-5174 or send us an email via our online contact form.

Possession of Cocaine

Under California law, it is illegal to possess a number of controlled substances, which includes cocaine in any form. In order to find you guilty of possession, the prosecution has to prove three things:

  1. That you had the cocaine in your possession, either on your person (in your pocket) or in an area under your control (in your car);
  2. That you knew you had the cocaine; and
  3. That it was a useable amount, not just a trace amount or residue.

If you are found guilty, possession is punishable by up to one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.00. If you’re facing cocaine charges, this may sound very simple, but it’s important to keep in mind that proving possession may be more difficult than it appears. For example, if someone you knew left the cocaine in your car without your knowledge, the prosecution may not have the evidence to prove that you knew it was in your vehicle. Alternatively, maybe you knew you had something, but didn’t know it was cocaine. Whatever the case, the prosecution has to prove that you had a usable amount of cocaine, knew you had it, and knew it was cocaine.

It’s also important to know that you will be charged with possession of cocaine if the amount in your possession was for personal use only. Of all the cocaine-related charges, possession carries some of the lightest penalties.

Possession of Cocaine for Sale and Transportation 

If you are caught with cocaine in certain circumstances, the prosecutor may charge you with possession of cocaine for sale. This is a more serious crime with heavier penalties. In order to be found guilty, however, the prosecution will have to prove that you intended to sell it. As a result, the prosecution will have to rely on the facts surrounding your arrest. Here are some examples of the facts that the prosecution may use to argue that you intended to sell the cocaine in your possession:

  • The amount of cocaine you had in your possession
  • Whether you had scales or other equipment used in the sale or distribution of drugs
  • Whether the cocaine was separately packaged for individual consumption
  • Cell phone records, traffic to and from your residence, and any other facts that may help them establish that you were in the business of selling drugs

California law also has a separate crime for what is commonly considered drug trafficking, which would include trafficking cocaine. The prosecution can charge you with transportation even if you didn’t cross state lines - it’s illegal to transport cocaine across two or more counties.  As a result, transportation and sale charges often go hand-in-hand. These are extremely serious charges, and anyone facing allegations of selling or transporting cocaine should speak to an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Other Cocaine-Related Charges

Even if you’re not in possession of cocaine, California law allows the prosecution to charge you with being under the influence of cocaine. However, you have to be impaired, either physically or mentally, in some detectable way at the time you were arrested. If you were driving when you were arrested, the prosecution could charge you with driving while under the influence of cocaine. Both of these crimes are typically charged as misdemeanors, punishable by up to one year in jail and possible fines.


As mentioned earlier, simple possession is punishable by up to a year in county jail, but the penalties become more severe from there.  Here is a summary of the possible penalties if you’re facing cocaine charges:

PossesionScaleTransportationBeing Under the InfluenceDUI
Typically charged as a misdemeanor with up to 1 year in jail and/or a fine of $1,000.Felony charge, punishable for 2, 3, or 4 years in prison and a maximum fine of $20,000Felony charge, punishable by 3, 4, or 5 years in prisonTypically charged as a misdemeanor with up to 1 year in jail and/or a fine of $1,000.Typically charged as a misdemeanor with up to 1 year in jail and/or a fine of $1,000.
May be charged as a felony if you have a prior conviction for a sex crime or other serious offense such as murder with jail time of 16 months or 2 or 3 yearsSelling base cocaine is punishable by 3, 4, or 5 years in prisonIf you transported the cocaine across two or more counties, the crime is punishable by 3, 6, or 9 years in prisonIf convicted, you may be able to participate in a drug treatment program in lieu of jail timeIf convicted, you may be able to participate in a drug treatment program in lieu of jail time
If convicted, you may be able to participate in a drug treatment program in lieu of jail timeIf selling more than 1 kilogram, you face an additional 3 to 20 years in prison, and a potential fine of $8,000,000If selling more than 1 kilogram, you face an additional 3 to 20 years in prison, and a potential fine of $8,000,000

Keep in mind that in addition to jail or heavy fines, there are other serious consequences when convicted of a drug crime: damage to your reputation, loss of employment, and family stress being among the most difficult.

Defending Against Cocaine Charges

The most important thing to remember is that the prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of the crime they have charged you with. A criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles can help you put together the best defense possible to in order to get you a fair result. Common defenses to cocaine charges include the following:

  • The police violated your constitutional rights by conducting an illegal search and seizure;
  • The cocaine was not yours
  • You didn’t know you had the cocaine
  • You’ve been charged with transportation or sale in a simple possession case
  • You were not under the influence of cocaine or any other illegal drug

Prosecutors are extremely aggressive in drug cases, and so it’s critical that you have a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer fighting for your rights.

In some cases, it may be better to pursue a plea bargain than it is to raise a defense. A plea bargain agreement involves agreeing to plead guilty to the offense in return for the prosecutor recommending the judge impose a lenient sentence. In many cases, a plea bargain can help you avoid jail time or get you into a diversionary program that, if completed successfully, will result in the case against you being dropped.

Contact a California Drug Charges Defense Attorney Today

If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges related to the possession or sale of cocaine, you need to consult with a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. The attorneys at The Law Offices of David S. Chesley have the skills and the experience you need. With over 50 years of courtroom experience, we will work tirelessly for you and fight for your rights.  Call us at 800-755-5174 or email us today to schedule a free consultation with a criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles.


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Recent Results

  • Multiple defendants each facing 7 years charged with smuggling prescription drugs into California from Mexico our client was the only defendant who received NO JAIL TIME!

  • Client facing 5 years for possession of deadly weapon we negotiated a plea for NO JAIL TIME!

  • Client facing 3 life terms for multiple felony counts of Child Molestation and Sodomy with child we proved the charges were fabricated by victims mother DISMISSAL of all charges at preliminary hearing!

  • Strike case: Client charged with possession of methamphetamine facing 25 years we filed a Romero Motion which was granted case REDUCED TO MISDEMEANOR!

  • Client's estranged girlfriend alleged Client broke into her room and choked her facing 14 years in State Prison we won at trial JURY ACQUITTAL.

  • Police allegedly discovered 3 bags of marijuana in client's glove box faced 6 years we filed a 1538.5 motion to suppress resulting in DISMISSAL of all charges!

  • Client allegedly sold rock cocaine to undercover officer faced 10 years following our argument client received NO JAIL TIME!

  • Client facing 15 years for Armed Robbery we proved misidentification Judge DISMISSED the case!

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