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LAX Arrest with Over 80 Jars of Pot, Judicial Diversion

The Reader’s Digest Version: Client arrested at LAX, with a ticket for New York City, with over 325 grams of marijuana in 80 small jars.  Case resolved with judicial diversion (dismissal) after the client obeyed all laws for a year, with no other obligations.         
Our client, age 20, enjoyed marijuana.  He lived in Queens, New York, where while marijuana was legal for those over 21 and older (mirroring alcohol laws), it was not for someone under 21.  Moreover, it was difficult to buy in New York and when he could buy it, it was expensive.

He learned from a friend that he could buy large quantities of marijuana in Los Angeles from a dispensary just one mile from LAX and then bring it back to New York for less than buying it in New York.
So he bought a round trip ticket to Los Angeles, with just a few hours on the ground in Los Angeles, to make a large purchase here.  He landed in Los Angeles and then went to the dispensary on Century Boulevard, where he purchased three boxes of marijuana, with each box containing twenty glass jars with each containing approximately four grams of marijuana.  He then bought another box with twenty-five glass jars with each holding 3.5 grams of marijuana.  He had 85 jars in total and just over 325 grams of marijuana total. 

He then loaded the boxes into his luggage and went back to LAX to return to New York City.  While passing through baggage check, however, Airport Police discovered the four boxes of marijuana jars and arrested our client.  Our client also had $510 in cash on him, but no scales or pay-owe sheets.  He explained that the marijuana was just for his personal use.

drug_offense_49_-_airport_courthouse.jpgAirport Courthouse

The client was cited and released on a violation of transportation of marijuana for sales, over 28.5 grams, as a violation of Health & Safety Code § 11360, a felony.  He then returned to New York after signing a promise to appear in the Airport Courthouse on La Cienega in about two months.

A violation of 11360 when more than 28.5 grams of marijuana involved as being transported out of California is a felony punishable for two, three or four years in state prison and a court fine of up to $10,000.  This is exactly what seemed to apply to our client.

Once the client returned to New York, he scanned the Internet and called Greg Hill & Associates.  He discussed the case facts with Greg and Greg explained how such charges may be handled in the Airport Courthouse.  Greg also explained how Health and Safety Code § 11360 could be possibly negotiated to a resolution for simple possession of more than 28.5 grams of marijuana, Health & Safety Code § 11357(b)(2) if the client was young (as applicable here), there was no indicia of sales (as applicable here, i.e., no digital scale, no pay-owe sheets, nothing on his phone to suggest sales) and if the client was respectful and cooperative with police.  Greg also explained the personality of the Airport Courthouse judge handling early disposition hearings for felonies and the prosecutor in that courtroom.

Greg suggested that the client attend at least ten Narcotics Anonymous (NA) classes online (this case arose during the COVID-19 pandemic, so in-person classes were suspended and replaced by Zoom meetings), bring proof of schooling or employment and that he appear for his arraignment in a suit and tie.

On the day of the arraignment, the client flew out from New York City, brought proof of attending fifteen NA meetings, a resume, his class schedule at a community college in New York City.  He also wore a suit and tie.  However, it appeared that the case was not filed at all after he had incurred such efforts and expense.

Greg then had the client wait in the courthouse cafeteria while Greg went up to the District Attorney’s Office on the fourth floor to verify that no case had been filed and coincidentally met up with the handling detective assigned to the case. 

The detective had the police report in his hand and apologized for not bringing it to court earlier.  Greg introduced himself and explained how the client had flown back to Los Angeles and was wearing a suit and tie.  Greg explained that the client was quite nervous, but he had attended fifteen NA meetings, had brought his proof of enrollment in a local community college.  Greg then showed the detective the documents.

The detective seemed impressed with the client’s earnestness and Greg’s description of the client.  He said the case would be filed in a few weeks and that the client and Greg would receive written notice of the new arraignment date.  The two shook hands and Greg returned downstairs to meet with the client, letting him know that he had just had a meeting with the detective assigned to the case.

About three weeks later, the client and Greg indeed did receive notice of the new arraignment date.

On the date of the new arraignment date, the client again flew out to Los Angeles from New York City for his arraignment.  Oddly, the case was filed as a misdemeanor for violation of Health and Safety Code § 11357(b)(2), not as a felony with the client facing four years in state prison under Health & Safety Code § 11360.

Greg and the client then appeared in a misdemeanor courtroom in the Airport Courthouse and Greg requested that the judge assign the matter to judicial diversion under Penal Code § 1001.95 and 1001.96.  The judge granted this request, ordering the client to obey all laws for a year and if he did so, the case would be dismissed.

The client was extremely happy with this resolution, knowing how lucky he had been.

For more information about possession of marijuana for sales, please click on the following articles:
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