Criminal Defense Attorney - Santa Rosa - People vs. Rodas

The criminal defense attorneys at the Sonoma County criminal law firm Adams Fietz have reviewed the case of People v. Rodas, filed April 20, 2017. In this case the Court of Appeal considered the law regarding transportation of drugs and, in particular, the 2014 statutory amendment to section 11352 that required transportation for sale rather than merely for personal use. (§ 11352, subd. (a).)

Effective January 1, 2014, the Legislature amended section 11352 of the Health and Safety Code by adding subdivision (c), which provides, “For purposes of this section, ‘transports’ means to transport for sale.” The amendment intended to criminalize the transportation of drugs for the purpose of sale and not the transportation of drugs for personal use.

Following the statute’s amendment, “transportation of heroin for personal use no longer constitutes a violation of section 11352.” (People v. Ramos (2016) 244 Cal.App.4th 99, 102 (Ramos).) “The practical effect of this amendment is that transportation of heroin for sale as opposed to personal use is now an element of the offense that must be decided by a jury by proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Generally, “where the amendatory statute mitigates punishment and there is no saving clause, the rule is that the amendment will operate retroactively so that the lighter punishment is imposed” if the amended statute takes effect before the judgment of conviction becomes final. (In re Estrada (1965) 63 Cal.2d 740, 744, 748 (Estrada) [“If the amendatory statute lessening punishment becomes effective prior to the date the judgment of conviction becomes final then, in our opinion, it, and not the old statute in effect when the prohibited act was committed, applies”].) While the parties agree on this general proposition, they disagree over whether Estrada applies in this case.

The criminal laws regarding drugs have changed dramatically in California in the last few years. Whether you have a new drug charge, or an old drug conviction, the Santa Rosa criminal law attorneys at Adams Fietz can help.