Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB) is a central nervous system drug prescribed to individuals with sleeping disorders. However, the substance is also used illegally, with an increased abuse rate at clubs and parties in California. The colorless and odorless nature of GHB makes it easy for the substance to be mixed with beverages.
GHB produces serious side effects like dizziness, exhaustion, and vomiting. The drug can also cause loss of consciousness, respiratory issues, and other aggressive behaviors. According to the Food and Drug Administration, GHB is a controlled substance.
Therefore, you could be arrested and charged with different offenses that involve the substance. You risk facing incarceration and hefty fines if you are charged with possessing, selling, or transporting GHB in California. A skilled lawyer to help you fight your charges is critical to a favorable case outcome.
The following are common offenses involving GHB:
Possession of GHB
California Health and Safety Code 11350 makes possessing GHB without a valid prescription a crime. Since GHB can be used as a prescription drug for treating daytime sleepiness, you cannot be charged with simple possession when you have a prescription and use the substance according to that prescription.
The prosecution must prove these elements to secure a conviction for GHB possession in California:
- You possessed a regulated drug. The government controls the use, sale, and possession of some substances. This is because most of these substances produce unpleasant side effects.
- The substance you possessed was GHB. Possession could be actual or constructive, depending on the circumstances. However, the prosecution must prove that the substance in question was GHB.
- You knew of the substance's presence. You cannot be found guilty of possessing a substance if you do not know its presence.
- You knew about GHB's nature as a controlled substance in California.
- The GHB was in a usable amount. A controlled substance is considered to be in a usable amount if it is enough to produce effects on the user.
Simple possession of GHB is a misdemeanor. You could face a jail sentence of up to one year if you are convicted of the offense. You could benefit from drug diversion if you are a first-time offender or do not have a violent criminal history. Drug diversion is a program that allows defendants facing minor drug charges to receive drug treatment and rehabilitation instead of jail time.
Entering a drug diversion program comes with strict rules that you must follow while in the program. This will include attending counseling and receiving treatment for drug use. The court will dismiss your case after the successful completion of the diversion program. In addition to saving you from incarceration, a drug diversion program helps you avoid a drug possession charge on your record.
For defendants with a history of violent crimes and sex offenses against minors, possession of GHB will attract felony charges.
Possession for Sale of GHB
Under California HSC 11351 or 11378, you can be arrested and charged for possessing GHB and intending to sell it. Under this statute, the sale of GHB involves exchanging it for money or other valuable items. Possession of a controlled substance to sell it attracts more severe charges than simply possessing the substance for personal use. The elements of GHB possession for sale include:
- You possess or purchase the drug. You are considered to be in possession of GHB if it is on your person or within your control.
- You knew of the drug's presence. The prosecution must prove that you knew of the GHB's presence before your conviction under this statute. This helps avoid the prosecution of an individual for drugs belonging to another person.
- You intended to sell the substance. Your intentions with GHB differentiate between simple possession and possession for the sale of the substance. The prosecution must provide clear and convincing evidence of your intent to sell the substance. The manner of packaging and quantity of the substance in your possession could help the prosecution show your intention to sell the drug.
GHB possession with intent to sell is a felony. In this case, some factors that could impact the severity of your conviction include your criminal history and the quantity of GHB you intended to sell. A conviction for the offense will attract the following punishment:
- A prison sentence of two to four years.
- Up to $20,000 in fines.
- Felony probation.
Unlike simple possession, you will not be eligible for drug diversion if you face charges for possessing GHB to sell it.
Driving Under the Influence of GHB
Under California VC 23152(f), operating a vehicle while under the influence of Gamma Hydroxybutyrate is unlawful. Driving under the influence occurs when you have a substantial amount of a controlled substance in your blood. GHB produces adverse effects like drowsiness, seizures, and difficulty focusing.
These effects could impact your ability to concentrate on the road while driving and increase the risk of accidents. An investigation for driving under the influence of GHB begins when a law enforcement officer stops your vehicle. This could be done at a traffic checkpoint or when the officer suspects that you were driving under the influence.
Your conduct when driving badly after a stop will give the officer probable cause to arrest you and take you to the police station for further investigations. You will be required to submit to a blood test, which helps determine the type of substance and quantity in your blood.
There is a legal limit for blood alcohol content when driving in California. However, for drugs like GHB, the testimony of a drug recognition expert and your blood test results will be used as the primary evidence in the case.
Driving under the influence of Gamma Hydroxybutyrate is a misdemeanor in California. For a first offense, you may not spend any time in jail. Instead, the court will sentence you to informal probation and impose some fines. For subsequent crimes, you could be sentenced to six months in jail.
You will face a felony charge if you are a fourth-time offender Under VC 23152(f). A felony conviction, in this case, attracts a prison sentence of sixteen months to three years and fines that do not exceed $5,000. In addition to incarceration and fines, you will lose your driver’s license after a conviction for this crime.
Being Under the Influence of GHB
You could face an arrest and criminal charges under California Health and Safety Code 11550 for being under GHB influence. You are considered under the influence of drugs if your mental and physical abilities are impacted by drug use. When you face a charge of being under the influence, the prosecution must prove the following factors to establish your guilt:
- You used GHB willfully. Although GHB can be abused voluntarily, there are instances when it is used as a rape drug. Therefore, its consumption may be involuntary. The prosecutor must prove that you used the drug willfully before you face a conviction.
- You were deliberately under the influence. The side effects produced by GHB vary depending on the amount used. The prosecution must show that you willfully took an amount that could impair your abilities.
A violation of HSC 11550 is a misdemeanor that attracts a jail sentence of up to one year. With the guidance of a competent attorney, you can avoid incarceration through a drug diversion program. The program entails counseling and rehabilitation for drug addicts. The court could offer you drug diversion if you are a first-time offender.
Defenses Against GHB-related Offenses in California
Many people are arrested each year for violating drug laws in California. Most arrests are based on the possession of small quantities of GHB. Other arrests result from more serious conduct like drug trafficking and the possession of large amounts for sale or distribution. The stakes are high for defendants facing charges for crimes involving GHB. In addition to spending time behind bars after your conviction, you will have a tainted criminal record that is difficult to shake off.
You could use the following defenses in your case if you or a loved one faces charges for a GHB-related crime:
No Possession of the Substance
For most GHB crimes, the prosecution must prove you possessed the substance. In this case, possession will be actual or constructive, depending on the circumstances. You can avoid a conviction for these offenses by arguing that you did not possess or control GHB. With no evidence of possession, you can avoid the consequences of a conviction.
Legal Possession of GHB
Like other controlled substances, you will only be arrested for their possession if you do not have a valid prescription. GHB was initially manufactured as a prescription drug before people started abusing it. Therefore, it is not unlikely for a person to legally possess the substance. By arguing that you had a valid prescription for GHB, you will not be found guilty of illegal possession under California Health and Safety Code 11350.
Unlawful Search and Seizure
Most evidence used to support drug-crime charges is obtained through illegal searches and seizures. When law enforcement officers suspect your involvement in the possession, transportation, or sale of GHB in California, they will quickly gather evidence against you. Sometimes, the officers may not be patient enough to wait for a warrant and could search your home or property without a valid warrant.
All individuals in California are protected from unlawful search and seizure. Therefore, any evidence collected during these illegal searches will not be admissible in court. If you are a victim of an unlawful search, your attorney can petition the court to exclude some of the prosecutor’s evidence from your case.
GHB produces severe and life-threatening effects. Therefore, law enforcement officers will use different tactics to find evidence against you if you are suspected of transporting or selling the substance. This could include undercover operations and vigorous interrogations.
Entrapment occurs when police officers lure you into committing a crime that you would not commit without their insight. In your case, you could avoid a conviction for GHB0-related offenses by using entrapment as a defense.
No Knowledge of the Drug's Presence
Your knowledge of the presence of a drug and its nature as a controlled substance must be clear when you face charges for possessing a controlled substance. Therefore, the prosecution must show that you knew of the presence of GHB to secure a conviction. In cases where multiple individuals have access to a particular location, it is possible not to notice a controlled substance.
The prosecution must present sufficient evidence to secure a conviction if you face criminal charges for driving under the influence of GHB in California. Some evidence that could be used to support these charges includes the test results for your blood analysis and factors that warranted a DUID stop.
If there was no probable cause for your DUI stop or arrest, you can petition the court to dismiss the evidence collected at the illegal stop. Removing evidence from the case will weaken the charges and increase your chances of prevailing in the case.
Find a Competent Drug Crimes Defense Attorney
GHB is a controlled drug in California. While the drug can treat daytime sleepiness for medical purposes, many people abuse it at parties and clubs. The drug is colorless and odorless. Therefore, it could be easily mixed with beverages. When ingested, GHB produces serious side effects that could be life-threatening.
Possession, sale, and transportation of GHB are regulated in California. A violation of GHB laws will attract criminal charges ranging from simple misdemeanor possession to felony transportation or sale of the substance. Facing an arrest and being charged with a GHB-related crime could be nerve-wracking. The thought of spending time behind bars and having a drug crime conviction on your record could take a toll on you.
Fortunately, not all drug crimes result in convictions. With the proper legal guidance, you can fight the charges and secure a favorable outcome in your case. You will benefit from our expert legal guidance at Foos Gavin Law Firm if you face GHB-related criminal charges in Sacramento, CA. Call us today at 916-779-3500 for much-needed legal guidance.