Ketamine is a pharmaceutical drug used in veterinary and human medicine that can interfere with your central nervous system. It is also a recreational drug. Users have reported feeling separated from the body, sensations of a floating feeling, or dissociation with auditory and visual hallucinations. Due to its side effects, California imposes severe penalties on ketamine crime. If you have been charged with any ketamine-related crime, you should take the charges seriously. A conviction can result in serving time, fines, and probation. The most effective way to avoid these adverse consequences is to retain a skilled Sacramento defense attorney.

Understanding Ketamine

Parke-Davis first developed ketamine as a medication that relieves many different types of pain when conducting medical procedures. In 1870, the U.S. Federal Drug and Administration approved it, and doctors used it to treat injured soldiers during America’s war with Vietnam. Since then, most medical practitioners have ceased prescribing it due to its hazardous side effects. Now, veterinarians use it as a painkiller.

Nevertheless, scientists are researching it to see if it can be an effective antidepressant. One ketamine injection relieves serious depression and emergencies. Physicians are still hesitant to prescribe it due to its effects on patients.

Ketamine is a prevalent club drug due to its effects like short-lived hallucinations, the inability to experience pain, detachment, immobility, and sedation. Its street names include Jet, Purple, Super Acid, Special K, Cat Valium, and Cat Tranquilizer.

The drug is stolen or diverted from legal sources like veterinary facilities. The primary mode of street circulation is via acquaintances and friends at parties and clubs. It is mainly found in a powder-like form that is put into cigarettes or in a liquid form that can be ingested orally or injected.

Under the Controlled Substances Act classifications, ketamine is a Schedule IIIN non-narcotic. While Schedule III drugs are less likely to be abused compared to Schedule II and I, they can result in mild psychological or physical addiction.

California voters executed Proposition 47, reducing ketamine possession charges for individual use to misdemeanor charges. However, Prop. 47 did not lower the criminal charge for selling, distributing, or transporting this drug. The section below comprehensively discusses ketamine offenses under California law.

Ketamine Possession (California HS 11350)

For you to be sentenced for ketamine possession, the prosecutor should demonstrate the following legal elements of your alleged offense:

  • You possessed ketamine illegally.
  • You knew that ketamine is a controlled substance in the U.S.
  • You knew of the existence of ketamine.
  • The drug in your possession was in consumable amounts.

Ketamine Possession Punishments

Prosecutors charge small ketamine possession as a misdemeanor. A California Health and Safety Code Section 11350(a) HS conviction is punishable by one (1) year in jail if you possess ketamine for individual use. However, the court can grant probation or penalize you with a fine not exceeding $1000 and community service.

If you were previously convicted of a severe felony per Penal Code Section 667 or are a registered sex offender per PC 290, the Prop. 47 lessening of your charges is not available in your case. Nevertheless, individuals imprisoned for minor possession could petition for the case’s resentencing.

Ketamine Possession Defenses

Your defenses to the alleged offense could include the following:

  • You possess a valid ketamine prescription.
  • You were unaware of your ketamine possession.
  • You did not know that ketamine is a controlled substance.
  • The police violated your constitutional rights during your arrest.

Selling, Transporting, Furnishing, Administering, Importing, or Giving Away Ketamine

To obtain a conviction against you on this charge, the prosecutor should show the following:

  • You sold, transported, furnished, gave away, administered, or gave away the drug in question.
  • You knew ketamine is a narcotic drug.
  • The abused drug was ketamine.
  • You were aware of its existence.

Selling in this context means exchanging ketamine for cash, services, or something of value.

Administering is defined as injecting it into another individual’s body. It can also be offering a person a drink laced with ketamine, a joint or cigarette containing ketamine, or encouraging others to snort ketamine from a surface.

Transport refers to movement from point A to point B, even if the distance is short. The law considers any movement as transporting the controlled substance, regardless of whether you had a motive for selling or giving away the drug.

The judge can find you guilty even if you did not personally possess the drug. If you were aware of its existence and in possession of the substance, the judge could sentence you for transporting ketamine. Transporting also involves the use of a bicycle or walking.

Possible Penalties and Consequences

If you are found guilty of selling, transporting, furnishing, importing, giving away, or administering ketamine, you risk spending 3 to 5 years in California state prison.

How to Fight Your Drug-Related Criminal Charges

After collecting and analyzing the case facts, your lawyer should develop the most effective legal defense. Common legal strategies include the following:

  • You did not engage in selling, administering, or giving away ketamine.
  • You were not aware of its existence.
  • You did not have control over the drugs.
  • The police violated your rights.
  • Entrapment.

Offering to Furnish, Sell, Import, Transport, Administer, or Give Away Ketamine Per HS 11352

For the prosecutor to secure a conviction against you, they should demonstrate that the following elements are facts in your case:

  • You suggested performing the following: furnish, sell, administer, give away, etc.
  • At the time of your offer, you planned to undertake the recommended action.
  • The drug was ketamine or another substance with similar effects or chemical formation as ketamine.

Ketamine Possession Punishments

Upon conviction for selling, furnishing, importing, transporting, administering, or giving away, you might get three to five (5) years in California state prison.

Ketamine Possession Defenses to Violating HS 11370

California's defenses to the violation of HS 11370 include the following:

  • The defendant did not suggest furnishing, selling, importing, transporting, or giving away ketamine.
  • The accused did not seek to undertake the act, even though they had suggested doing so.
  • The defendant has no access to ketamine.
  • Violation of legal rights by the police.
  • Entrapment.

Giving Ketamine to a Minor (HS 11353 and HS 11380 (a))

Due to ketamine being a prominent drug among youth and the distribution of the substance at raves, parties, and nightclubs, you can be easily accused of giving ketamine to a minor. Juveniles are known to present fake IDs to obtain admission to bars, and people who organize parties mainly do not check identification cards. Punishments for a drug offense involving underage children are severe.

For the judge to find you guilty of this charge, the prosecutor should show that the following applies to your case:

  • You illegally furnished, sold, gave away, or administered ketamine to a child.
  • You were aware that ketamine is a controlled substance.
  • You knew of the existence of ketamine.
  • During the offense, you were at least 18.
  • The drug was ketamine.
  • The controlled substance was in consumable amounts.
  • The individual you administered it to was below 18.

Upon conviction of the offense, you will serve 3 to 9 years in California state prison.

You can fight the criminal charges using any of the following legal defenses:

  • You did not offer to engage in furnishing or selling ketamine to a juvenile.
  • You were unaware that ketamine was a controlled drug.
  • You were not aware that there was ketamine in the beverage.
  • Law enforcers violated your constitutional rights.

Offering to Furnish, Sell, Give, or Administer Ketamine To a Child Per HS 11380(a) and 11353

Before convicting you, the prosecution should demonstrate that:

  • You sold, gave away, furnished, or administered ketamine to a juvenile.
  • At the time of your suggestion, you planned to engage in the conduct you recommended.
  • The drug was ketamine.
  • During the offense, you were at least 18.
  • You suggested someone under 18.

If found guilty, you would serve 3 to 9 years in California state prison.

Your defenses to the charge could include the following:

  • You did not furnish, sell, administer, or give away ketamine to a child.
  • You do not have access to ketamine.
  • You had no motive to undertake the unlawful action you suggested to the minor.
  • The police breached your rights.

Other ketamine offenses involving a juvenile include inducing a child to break regulated drug laws or giving a minor ketamine to facilitate sexual assault (DFSA), which carries harsh punishment.

Operating a Drug House (HS 11366)

To successfully convict you, the prosecution should prove all the elements of your criminal activity, including:

  • You run or operate a drug place.
  • You did so with a motive to give away, sell, or permit others to take controlled drugs frequently at your drug house.

A place can be an apartment or house, but it encompasses all structures regarding violations of HS 11366. For instance, according to this law, a motel or hotel room qualifies as a house.

You should also remember that individuals can only be guilty per this California statute if there was an opening or maintenance of a drug place to offer other individuals the avenue to use unlawful substances.

Please note that you cannot be charged with violating HS 11366 if you operate a place for personal drug activities.

Available Defenses For Violating HS 11366 Violations

You and your attorney can fight the charges using any of the following legal defenses:

  • The police carried out an illegal search.
  • The substance was for your personal use.
  • There is no repeated misconduct.

Punishments For Violating HS 11366

Violating this statute becomes a wobbler. A wobbler is a crime the prosecution can file as a California misdemeanor or felony.

A misdemeanor attracts the following potential penalties and consequences:

  • A one-year sentence in county jail.
  • A $1,000 fine.

If prosecuted for a felony, you will spend three years in jail or state prison and pay a $10,000 fine. 

Driving Under the Influence of Ketamine (Vehicle Code Section 23152(f))

VC 23152(f) makes it illegal to operate a car while under the influence of drugs. It includes prescription drugs like ketamine, regardless of whether you have a legal prescription.

Before convicting you, the prosecutor must establish that alcohol/drugs had impaired your muscles, brain, and nervous system to a level that you could not drive in the same manner as a cautious and prudent individual.

A misdemeanor charge is punishable by:

  • DUI school (if it is your first conviction).
  • A maximum fine of one thousand dollars.
  • Driver’s license suspension.
  • A six-month county jail sentence.

Being Under the Influence of Ketamine (HS 11550)

HS 1155o makes it an offense to be under the influence of drugs. Regarding ketamine, arrests usually occur during law enforcement busts of raves or clubs.

The elements of the crime that the district attorney must demonstrate before finding you guilty of HS 11550 include the following:

  • Your mental or physical abilities were impaired in a detectable way.
  • Drugs caused the impairment.

The crime is a California misdemeanor carrying a year in county jail. However, you can complete diversion to avoid serving time and get your criminal charges dismissed.

Manufacturing a Controlled Substance

Before convicting you, the prosecution must verify that:

  • You manufactured, prepared, produced, or compounded a controlled substance.
  • You were aware of ketamine being a controlled substance.

Please note that a defendant does not have to complete the process of manufacturing the drug to be sentenced. They are guilty, provided the prosecutor can show that they:

  • Knowingly engaged in the production process, and
  • The engagement was at the initial or intermediate stages.

Violation of HS 11379.6 is a felony, punishable by:

  • A fine of fifty thousand dollars.
  • Up to seven years in California state prison.

Some of the aggravating factors that could result in the court imposing a maximum sentence include the following:

  • You produced a lot of ketamine.
  • There was a minor below 16 in the space where you made the controlled substance.
  • Somebody died or was severely injured.
  • You have a prior specific drug crime conviction.

A conviction can also lead to adverse immigration consequences and gun rights.

Here are persuasive legal defenses a lawyer can use during negotiations with the D.A. to get the charges dismissed:

  • Police entrapment.
  • The police arrested the defendant following an illegal search and seizure.
  • The accused did not engage in drug production.
  • Mistaken identity.
  • The defendant was unaware what they were making was unlawful.

Find an Experienced Drug Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

If you have been accused of a ketamine-related drug crime in Sacramento, it is expected that you will feel anxious and uncertain about your future. That is why you should work with a drug defense attorney. Do not wait to make your call. The sooner you consult a lawyer, the better your case outcome. From initial case review through evidence analysis to interviewing witnesses, the legal team at Foos Gavin Law Firm can work with you to protect your rights and fight your criminal charges. Please call us at 916-779-3500 to take advantage of our free legal consultation and learn more about what we can do for you.