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Crack Cocaine Crimes & What They Mean in California

As fentanyl and the U.S. opioid crisis take over the headlines, people continue to use and sell crack cocaine. Arrests for crack remain high in Southern California. If you have been arrested and charged with either possession of crack cocaine for personal use or possession with the intent to sell, an experienced drug crimes attorney can help you avoid tough penalties and other serious consequences that flow from a conviction of a crack cocaine drug crime.

William S. Kroger is an experienced, resourceful L.A. drug crimes defense attorney in Los Angeles County. He has seen how the drug itself in addition to a conviction of a crack cocaine crime can detrimentally affect people. He is committed to your defense and to the quality of life you have after you have been charged with a drug crimes offense. He will consider all the facts of the case and develop an aggressive, smart defense strategy accordingly. Contact his office today to see discuss the unique circumstances of your case and to learn more about how William S. Kroger can represent you.

What is crack cocaine?

Cocaine is derived from coca leaves, a plant found in the Andean highlands of South America. It is a powerful stimulant; in fact, it is the most powerful naturally occurring stimulant. It was once used medically as an anesthetic and had been used for thousands of years used recreationally by South American peoples for its stimulating effects. Coca-Cola's name is even derived from the plant and up until 1903, the drink “contained 9 milligrams of cocaine per glass.”

Crack is cocaine but is cocaine that has had the hydrochloride removed. This removal makes it possible to smoke the drug. Crack gets its street name from the crackling sound made when the substance is produced: cocaine is combined with either baking soda or ammonia and water and then heated to remove the hydrochloride. During the heating process, the mixture crackles.

Other street names for crack cocaine include:

  • Basa
  • Base
  • Bazooka
  • Black rock
  • Blotter
  • Bopper
  • Candy
  • Coke
  • Ice
  • Rock
  • Soup
  • Twinkie
  • Yam.

There are many other street or nicknames for crack, including names that refer to crack mixed with other substances, like heroin or marijuana.

Crack cocaine is to be distinguished from cocaine in its powder form. Though crack and powder are derived from the same plant, there are differences:

  • Crack cocaine is chemically processed into small rock-like chunks while powder cocaine has a very fine, flour-like texture.
  • It takes about 10 seconds for crack to have an effect on the body while it takes up to 30 minutes for powder cocaine to produce an effect.
  • The high from crack is more intense and lasts for about 10 minutes while a high from powder is less intense but can last up to 30 minutes.
  • Per dose, crack is inexpensive but powder cocaine is very expensive.
  • Crack cocaine is smoked while powder cocaine is snorted or injected.

Methods of Using Crack

As already mentioned, crack is smoked, which is made possible by the removal of hydrochloride. Crack is solid and takes on the appearance of rocks. These “rocks” are usually crushed or crumbled and then placed in a pipe or another type of tubing to be lit for smoking.

Crack can also be dissolved into a solution and then injected. This method, however, is much less common than smoking.

Effects of Crack

Crack is a stimulant that affects the nervous system. When a person smokes crack, levels of dopamine -- a neurotransmitter linked to pleasure -- are raised. What happens is simple. When a person smokes crack, neurons release dopamine to inform the body that something pleasurable is happening. Under normal situations -- for instance when someone eats a chocolate chip cookie -- the dopamine signals the body of pleasure and then returns to the neuron wherein the signal of pleasure stops. But in the case of smoking crack, the cocaine prevents dopamine from returning to the neuron immediately after informing the body of “pleasure”. The effect on the body is a high constituting a feeling of euphoria lasting up to 10 minutes.

Though precise effects vary person to person, you can expect the high to:

  • Provide a “rush”
  • Increase alertness and your heart rate
  • Induce an excited state
  • Decrease appetite
  • Dilate pupils, and/or
  • Create an intense craving for another dose after the current high dwindles.

These effects are the effects the user wants, but some other effects can occur, too, that last longer. These long-term effects can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Aggression
  • Paranoia
  • Abdominal pain, and/or
  • Heart attack or stroke.

Crack's effects on the body also materialize as long-term risks. These risks are real and are what's most problematic about crack cocaine.

  • The risk of addiction. Crack cocaine is incredibly addictive. This effect is the reason why coca was stopped being used as an anesthetic and as an ingredient in coca-cola.
  • The risk of overdose. Crack smokers have a higher risk of overdosing than persons who snort cocaine. Larger quantities of cocaine can get into the bloodstream faster by smoking than snorting.
  • The risk of gray matter loss. Cocaine users' brains change: a University of Cambridge study showed a widespread loss of gray matter happening to persons using cocaine. This means they tend to have greater problems with attention.
  • The risk of serious health problems. An Australian study found cocaine use is linked to significant risk in stroke and heart attacks. Other health risks specific to smoking crack include upper respiratory problems, lung damage, increased blood pressure, and racing heartbeat.

What are the crimes & penalties associated with crack cocaine in California?

Crack is a schedule I controlled substance, which means it has a high capacity for addiction and no capacity for medical use (unlike cocaine, which is a schedule II controlled substance meaning it still has a high capacity for addiction but has a limited medical use). In California, crack is always illegal, no matter the quantity

History of Crack Cocaine & Penalties

Initially, crack was believed to be more harmful to public health than cocaine in its powder form. As such, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 made penalties for a conviction associated with crack harsher than penalties associated with powder cocaine. Not only did this affect communities disproportionately, the belief was inaccurate. Finally, in 2010 through the Fair Sentencing Act, the federal government reduced the weight ratio between crack and powder cocaine that determined federal criminal penalties. The ratio between crack and powder had been 100:1 gram but the law changed it to 18:1 gram, respectively.

California recognized the same in 2014 when it passed its own Fair Sentencing Act, which effectively ended severe disparities in sentencing between crack and powder cocaine crimes. But still, if you have been charged with a crack cocaine-related crime, then you can expect penalties that will change your life if you are convicted. William S. Kroger is committed to your defense. Whether you are guilty or deserve a second chance to get your life back on track, you can depend on William S. Kroger to approach your case from all angles and fight aggressively.

In California, the two crimes associated with crack cocaine is possession for personal use or possession with the intent to sell. Here's what that means and what the penalties could be upon conviction.

Possession of Crack Cocaine

Drug possession, like possession of crack cocaine, is a drug crime in California. Simple possession refers to a small quantity of crack that indicates it is for personal use. Simple possession is a misdemeanor unless you have a prior conviction, then it can be charged as a felony.

  • A misdemeanor charge can result in up to one year in L.A. County jail.
  • A felony charge can result in a prison sentence of 16 months for a low term, 2 years for a mid term, or 3 years for a high term sentence. The sentence term you receive will depend on any aggravating or mitigating factors.

You can also expect to pay a fine up to $1,000 and be sentenced to probation up to 3 years and/or community service.

According to California Health and Safety Code 11350, to prove this crime, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt you:

  • Possessed a controlled substance
  • Knew of its presence
  • Knew of the substance's character or nature as a controlled substance
  • Knew the substance was crack cocaine, and
  • Were in possession of a usable amount.

Defenses to this charge can include but are not limited to:

  • You did not know the substance you had was a controlled substance, i.e., crack.
  • You were a victim of entrapment by law enforcement.
  • There is insufficient evidence to support the charge.

It is important to note that a simple possession charge is not a strikeable offense, i.e., three strikes and you automatically have 25 years to life in prison regardless what would have been the sentence for the crime. You do have to register as a drug offender, but you could be eligible for deferred entry of judgment or a drug diversion program.

Possession with the Intent to Sell Crack

Possession of a controlled substance with the intent to sell it -- like crack cocaine -- can result in harsher penalties if convicted of the same. For sale can mean actually trying to sell the drug or it could mean simply giving it away or transferring possession of it. The amount of the drug found will be the largest factor into the prosecutor charging you with possession for sale. This offense is a felony, and a conviction can result in incarceration of :

  • 2 years in prison for a low term sentence
  • 3 years in prison a mid term sentence, or
  • 4 years in prison a high term sentence.

You can also expect a fine up to $20,000, probation between 3 to 5 years, and possible community service.

According to the California Health and Safety Code 11351, to prove this crime, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you:

  • Possessed a controlled substance
  • Knew of its presence
  • Knew of the substance's character or nature as a controlled substance
  • Knew the substance was crack cocaine
  • Intended to sell it when you were in possession of it, and
  • Were in possession of a usable amount.

Defenses to this charge can include but are not limited to:

  • No intention to sell it
  • Insufficient evidence, or
  • Entrapment, where the original intent to sell the substance comes from the police or other government agent.

Get Legal Help Today: Contact L.A. County Drug Crimes Attorney William S. Kroger

Drug crimes involving crack cocaine can be difficult to defend. But with the right attorney, you can bet on a defense strategy aimed to protect your rights and freedom. With William S. Kroger, he will consider all aspects of your case and develop a defense accordingly. He will review your options with you, which could involve anything from consideration of accepting a drug diversion program (for simple possession) that allows you to receive drug treatment over a conviction to going to trial to fight the charges.

If you have been charged with possession of cocaine for personal use or with intent to sell, contact William S. Kroger at 323-655-5700 today. The sooner you do, the sooner he will be able to start working on your case.

Contact William S. Kroger Today

If you are in need of an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles, CA who is proficient in marijuana, drug & criminal law, there’s simply no better attorney than William S. Kroger. Contact Me

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