Our clients, ages 18 and 20, were stopped by the California Highway Patrol in February, 2015 for allegedly transporting a controlled substance in violation of Health and Safety Code § 11379, also known as transportation of a controlled substance or drug trafficking.
In a Nutshell: Downtown Los Angeles (CCB), bail reduced from $250,000 to $150,000 on transportation of a controlled substance (Health & Safety Code § 11379) drug trafficking case.
They were traveling northbound on the I-5 Freeway near Magic Mountain in an inconspicuous sedan, except that its license plate frame indicated the car was purchased in a Northern California city.
The CHP report for the traffic stop stated that the reason for the officer pulling the vehicle over was that the vehicle registration was expired (although a photograph of the license plate showed the registration sticker was valid through December 2015) and that the vehicle had illegal tinted windows. These were violation of Vehicle Code § 4000a and Vehicle Code § 26708.5, respectively.
The officer who made the traffic stop and claimed that after coming in contact with our clients, he immediately noticed an odor of marijuana. At this time, Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, had not yet been passed, but even if it had, both are clients were under 21, so their use would have still been illegal.
One of our clients in fact had been smoking marijuana earlier in the day, so apparently his clothes retained the smell. The officer then asked our clients to step out of the vehicle, which they did. Oddly, he never asked either of our clients for the vehicle registration, a driver’s license or proof of insurance.
Instead, he immediately asked each of our clients for permission to search the vehicle. Our clients allegedly agreed to the search, although they did not. The police report, perhaps not surprisingly, claimed our clients consented.
The CHP officer then looked into the back seat of the car and found eleven plastic bags with a white powdery substance weighing a total of 4.9 kilograms, or twelve pounds. The bags allegedly contained methamphetamine.
Upon discovering the bags of methamphetamine, the CHP officer asked our clients where they were headed. They each stated they were heading farther away than one contiguous county away. They both stated different destinations. Their stories about where they had been differed, too, but this was only significant if the two claimed to have been together the entire time, which the officer never established, but simply assumed.
The search of the car found no pay-owe sheets, no scale, no additional cell phones and only a few hundred dollars of cash. The CHP officer asked our clients if they were selling meth to others and our clients refused to answer.
Bail was set at $250,000 each due to the weight of the controlled substance and the fact that the clients were intending to travel to more than just the next contiguous county. The families of our clients were not able to afford the bail amount.
The families came to Greg Hill & Associates. They met with Greg Hill and explained what had happened, although they were not aware of exactly what had happened.
Greg Hill then appeared at the arraignment for each client and made a written motion to reduce bail under Penal Code § 1275. Greg argued to the judge that each client was not a public safety danger because neither had any criminal history. Each client also had jobs and each had their entire family in the city where they lived. In other words, they were not flight risks. Neither owned a passport or a Visa. They also were generally cooperative with police and appeared unaware that what was found in the car was there.
The judge hearing the motion granted the motion reducing bail from $250,000 to $150,000 for each, which the family of each client did post.
For more information about the issues in this case summary, click on the following articles:
- What Is Bail and Can It Be Reduced?
- How Is Bail Set?
- How Do I Get Bail Reduced?