California law will no longer make a distinction between crack cocaine and powdered cocaine. On Sept. 28, the California Fair Sentencing Act was signed into law, making the minimum sentence for crack cocaine possession equal to the minimum sentence for powdered cocaine possession. Previously, a person who was found in possession of crack cocaine would face a minimum sentence of three years in prison without any eligibility for parole.
According to the new law, a person convicted for drug charges involving crack cocaine will now face a minimum sentence of two years in prison with a chance of parole. The previous law that differentiated crack cocaine from powdered cocaine was written in 1986 and has often been criticized for being discriminatory. Although crack and powdered cocaine are almost identical drugs, crack is more popular with low-income people due to the fact that it costs less. The 1986 law was also blamed for an explosion in California's prison population.
Supporters of the new law believe that thousands of people convicted for drug possession will now be allowed to avoid prison as a result of the change. With more probation sentences handed out than prison sentences, taxpayers may save as much as $1 million each year.
A person who is facing a charge for possession of cocaine may wish to consult a criminal defense attorney. If the individual has been charged for trafficking or distribution of the drug, the assistance of an attorney may be critical in an effort to have the charge reduced to simple possession. The attorney may also be able to help weaken the prosecution's case by filing motions to suppress key pieces of evidence.
Source: The Huffington Post, "California Takes Overdue Stand Against 'Failed Drug Laws'", Saki Knafo, September 30, 2014