Articles Tagged with San Diego drug crimes attorney

Earlier this month, Superior Court Judge Tamila E. Ipema issued a court order that the San Diego County District Attorney, Bonnie Dumanis, must return $100,000 of seized assets back to a medical marijuana businessman and his family. Over a year ago, DEA agents raided James Slatic’s business, but did not charge anyone with a crime. They used sledgehammers to break open the front door of Med-West Distribution, Slatic’s business that supplied a collective of medical pot shops with cannabis oils used for vaping as well as marijuana-laced edibles, topical creams, and other products. The agents seized all of the inventory, business records, and just over $324,000 in cash (a separate forfeiture proceeding for those funds is ongoing).

A few days after the raid, the District Attorney’s office also froze Slatic’s personal bank account, along with the accounts of his wife and two stepdaughters, alleging that the money was illegal drug profits. They took $55,000 from Slatic’s account, $34,000 from his wife’s account and more than $5,000 each from the couple’s two daughters. The money was not formally seized until months later. Dumanis has used state and federal civil asset-forfeiture rules for years to confiscate millions of dollars from drug suspects.

Lawyers for Mr. Slatic argued that that money should be returned because it was not part of Med-West’s funds. Mr. Slatic wrote in a statement: “It’s about time. We did nothing wrong. My business operated openly and legally for more than two years; we paid taxes and had a retirement program for our 35 employees.” The District Attorney’s office has argued that they do not have to return the money until 12 months after money is formally seized, not 12 months after it is actually seized.

Formal Procedures of Civil Asset Forfeiture

Civil asset forfeiture occurs when the government (ie. police) literally seizes someone’s property without compensating them, based on the suspicion that the property was used in connection with criminal activity. The government has to follow certain procedures before it can declare forfeited property.

Schedule I substances (drugs) can be seized by policy without any formal petition of forfeiture. See CA Health and Safety Code § 11475.  

When police seize personal property worth less than $25,00 they must give notice of formal forfeiture proceedings to all property owners. See CA Health and Safety Code § 11488.4(j). You must be given an opportunity to file a claim if you recieve this notice, which must be filed within 30 days of the received notice.

California law prohibits police from keeping seized cash and property valued at less than $40,000 in federal cases without obtaining a criminal conviction. Continue reading

Keeping up with the momentum of Oregon, Alaska, Washington D.C. and Florida this past election year, Assemblyman Ken Cooley (D Rancho Cordova) recently proposed Assembly Bill 266, which would legalize recreational marijuana in California.  The bill would set up a statewide regulatory scheme on marijuana while allowing local jurisdictions to regulate the licensing of medical marijuana growers and dispensaries.  Marijuana policy reform in California has been attempted multiple times throughout the years.  This bill was backed by the California Police Chiefs Association last year, and will be the second time it will be proposed.

Criminal Laws on Marijuana

While the proposed bill, if passed, would legalize marijuana to an extent, the possession of marijuana is currently decriminalized in California to some degree, with possession of up to 28.5 grams considered an infraction with a fine of $100.  Possession of over 28.5 grams is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months imprisonment and a maximum fine of $500.  See California Health & Safety Code § 11357.  However, possession with intent to distribute any amount of marijuana is a felony punishable by 16-36 months imprisonment. See California Health & Safety Code § 11359 and § 1170(h). The actual sale or delivery of any amount of marijuana is a felony punishable by 2-4 years imprisonment. See California Health & Safety Code § 1136.