The following is only a small sample of narcotics-related criminal cases the Los Angeles Defense Attorney Law Firm (LADALF) has handled over the last 17 years (since March 2005).
Client Facing 38 Years in Federal Drug Ring Case w/ Overwhelming Evidence; Plea: 3.5 Years (if Judge Allows Halfway House)
U.S.A. v. A.M. (U.S. Dist. Ct. – Dist. of Nevada – 05/22)
This prosecution resulted from an extensive investigation conduct by a federal-local-police narcotics task force that stretched from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. Because the feds (as virtually always is the case) took point thereon, resulting in prosecution for federal drug offenses by the U.S. Atty’s Office for the Dist. of Nev.).
Pertinent facts: Over the course of sixteen (16) weeks, client was videotaped making more than half-a-dozen controlled buys with an undercover FBI agent of big amounts of crystal meth. When he was finally arrested, he was found to be in possession of a semi-automatic weapon, which, upon conviction, would almost certainly result in an enhanced prison sentence pursuant to the United States Sentencing Commission’s guidelines. See U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1(b)(1)).
Because of the amounts of drugs at issue, and because of the alleged firearm possession, client was prosecuted as a Level 32 offender.
Worst-case scenario: Assuming client went to trial and lost on all counts, and assuming the judge threw the book at him by maxing out his sentence, he would receive thirty-eight) 38 years in a federal correctional institution. And unfortunately, because there is no such thing as parole in the federal prison system, client would only get a maximum of 15% knocked off his sentence with good-time credits.
Virtually ensuring that max sentence is client’s extensive rap sheet, which included prison terms for the following felony convictions:
Possession for Sale of a Controlled Substance (Cal. Health & Saf. Code § 11351).
Further almost-guaranteeing a heavy sentence is the feds’ allegation that he was a member of a violent criminal organization, and that he was a habitual criminal pursuant to U.S.S.G. section 4B1.1 & U.S.S.G. section 4B1.2.
1 U.S.C. § 846 – Conspiracy to Distribute & Possess w/ Intent to Distribute Controlled Substances/Crystal Meth; & Conspiracy to Use Communication Facility to Further the Commission of a Felony Controlled Substance Offense; and
Result: Client pled down to only one felony for Distribution of a Controlled Substance (Meth) under 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(B)(viii).
In exchange, the United States Attorney’s Office dropped all other charges and promised to try to see from the court a downward departure sentencing recommendation under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines (U.S.S.G.) section 3E1.1.
Ultimate sentence: Pursuant to the agreement, upon approval by the court, client would receive a sentence at a low-level institution wherein he would serve, with good behavior, somewhere between three-and-a-half years with remaining term in a residential facility, up to just under seven years.
Final note: It was only because of Ninaz Saffari’s unyielding approach to this case that the Assistant USA finally agreed to this deal, which he emphasized was far less than the USAO would agree to in any other case with similar circumstances.
Client Looking at Six Yrs. for Possession with Intent to Distribute; End: Misdemeanor, Zero Probation
People v. D.B. (San Fernando Superior Courthouse -- adjudicated -- April 2022)
L.A. Co. sheriff’s narcotics detectives (https://lasd.org) launched an investigation into client, and were able to obtain a search warrant on his residence. The search resulted in the seizure of a large amount of crystal meth.
Charge: Felony Possession for Sale of Methamphetamine (Calif. Health & Safety Code §11378).
Complications: Three prior prison stretches stemming from other narcotics-trafficking related convictions, such as felony Possession of Methamphetamine (Health and Safety Code § 11377), and felony 1st-Degree Residential Burglary (Pen. Code § 460(a); Pen. Code § 459).
Burglary conviction charged as a Strike Offense per Pen. Code § 667(d) & Pen. Code § 1170.12(b).
Maximum potential sentence: Half-a-dozen yrs. in a state penitentiary.
End: After a grueling thirty-six month battle with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, the prosecutor finally offered a deal that was too good to be true, and too good to pass up. Client pled to a simple misdemeanor for possession. Zero incarceration and not even summary probation.
Client Charged w/ DUID (Driving Under Influence of Drugs), Facing 12 Mos.’ Incarceration; End: Diversion & Dismissal
People v. J.C. (Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center – 08/21):
This was certainly one of the most unusual drug cases Ninaz Saffari has ever dealt with. In other words, the circumstances at play here were unprecedented in her personal experience. Here’s what happened:
On the evening in question, client, an adult woman, met a certain adult male whom she had only met days earlier. At the bar she met him at, the man slipped something into her cocktail. Her memory of the rest of that night is a total fog after she drank that cocktail.
The following morning, client woke up in a strange place with her heart almost leaping out of her chest. Seriously, the poor woman’s heart was beating so furiously, and her four limbs were quaking so badly, that client was certain death by cardiac arrest was only moments away. She instantly realized that she had been unwittingly drugged – probably with a roofie or other date-rape knockout drug.
Needless to say, this had never happened to her before. She had also never used illegal narcotics – not once in her entire law-abiding life. In fact, she had been working full-time for Bank of America since she had graduated from high school.
Not surprisingly, client was panicked and not thinking rationally – all she knew was that she wanted to get away from the scene – which she now saw was a cheap motel room – as fast as possible. So, unfortunately, instead of going into the manager’s office to call 9-1-1, she got into her vehicle and drove along the nearest highway to find California Highway Patrol. Less than five minutes later, that’s exactly what she found – a marked squad car pulled over onto the highway’s shoulder. Client swung the car and parked immediately in front of the officer’s sedan. She then got out of the car and approached the officer, trying to explain the nature of her ordeal.
Too bad the Chippie wasn’t buying it. Instead, he conducted an FST on her, which, of course, she failed spectacularly. So out came the cuffs and off she went to the nearest CHP station for booking, followed by another trip – this time to a local medical facility where she agreed to let them take her blood sample. The test confirmed she had been dosed with crystal methamphetamine.
Criminal charge: One count of felony DUID (Driving Under the Influence of a Drug: California Vehicle Code section 23152(f)).
Max sentence: One year in a county correctional facility – specifically, Los Angeles County Women’s Jail.
Process: The Los Angeles Defense Attorney Law Firm’s Ninaz Saffari worked tirelessly to get both the Deputy District Attorney prosecuting the case, as well as the judge, to give client a much-deserved break.
End: Client ended up with e judge to give J.C. Judicial Diversion (Court Initiated Diversion) (California Penal Code section 1001.95). As a result, client was only required to attend 12 DUI classes and only one 120-minute session on the internet. Zero fine, zero probation, and zero incarceration. Dismissal to follow successful completion.
Client Facing at Least a Quarter-Century in Federal Prison for Cocaine Trafficking (Status Undetermined)
People v. S.J. (C.C.B. Downtown Los Angeles -- 04/2021)
Specifically, the narcs arrested client with twenty keys of uncut Colombian cocaine and approximately $500,000 in cash allegedly found at his home.
Because the arrest occurred during the height of the Covid shutdown, and pursuant to new law enforcement policies intended to combat the spread thereof in the jail system, neither cops nor deputies were actually hauling off suspects to jail unless the crime involved violence or a serious sex offense.
As a result, after seizing all the evidence they could find and obtaining all the info they needed, the feds literally gave client a citation to answer the criminal charges once he received a summons from the court, and thereafter let him leave!
Client’s business associates/suppliers were understandably skeptical since they (and Ninaz Saffari) had never encountered such a unique situation before. To keep her client alive, after significant effort, she obtained a formal letter from the lead DEA agent confirming that client had been arrested, the nature of the charges, and the fact that he was now being actively prosecuted with a pending court date for his arraignment.
Further complicating matters was client’s previous conviction and prison term for a now-decade-old controlled substances-distribution conviction.
Charges: Possession with Intent to Sell Controlled Substance (California Health and Safety Code section 11351); AND
Sale or Transportation of a Controlled Substance (California Health and Safety Code section 11352).
Likely minimum sentence if convicted of all charges: 25 years because of previous conviction. In addition, client would be required to register as a habitual drug offender pursuant to California Health & Safety Code section 11590 – see Narcotics Offender Registration (California Health and Safety Code section 11590 for at least five years.
Status: Client disappeared during prosecution.
Client Up Against Four Years in the Pen for Drugs; Case Ultimately Dismissed, Zero Jail
People v. R.M. (C.S.F. Crim. Justice Ctr., downtown LA -- 01/2018)
Client was a young man in his late 20s who was arrested as part of a drug trafficking investigation. In his possession were numerous ounces of coke and methamphetamine.
Criminal charges: Possession for Sale of a Controlled Substance (California Health and Safety Code section 11351) and Possession for Sale of Methamphetamine (California Health and Safety Code section 11378.
Prior convictions: Felony possession of cocaine – i.e., Possession of a Controlled Substance (California Health and Safety Code section 11350) – expungement successful pursuant to California Penal Code section 1203.4).
Max sentence: Forty-eight months in a state penitentiary.
Process: Ninaz made more court appearances than she could count to convince the court to give client a (third) chance at turning his life around.
End: Client accepted a nolo contendere plea to several “Wobblers” (California Penal Code section 17(b)) – i.e., felonies, which upon successful completion of three years of informal probation, would be reduced to misdemeanors under California Penal Code section 17(b) and thereafter expunged. In effect, then, the court retracted client’s original guilty pleas and substituted them for not guilty, followed by the charges being dismissed.
In other words, without any jail time, client ultimately did in fact end up with a clean criminal records and thereafter enjoyed a successful professional career.
Drug Trafficking Case, Max: 60 Months; End: No Incarceration, 3 Yrs.’ Probation
People v. O.H. (Los Angeles Superior Court - LAX Courthouse, 03/2017)
Client was targeted for trafficking in cocaine, crystal methamphetamine, and heroin after a months’ long investigation by the Santa Monica Police Department, which executed a search warrant on his residence, resulting in him being placed in handcuffs.
Criminal charges: Three counts of Sale or Transportation of a Controlled Substance (California Health and Safety Code section 11352).
Max sentence: Sixty months in the state pen.
The evidence was strong since it was seized pursuant to a valid search warrant, so Ninaz had to fight long and hard to get him an extremely favorable deal.
End: Client accepted an incredible reduced plea that resulted in zero incarceration and 36 months’ formal probation.
Client Facing Two Years in Jail for DUI & Drugs; Result: No Jail & 1 Year of Counseling
People v. T.S. (Beverly Hills Ct. --06/2019):
Client was a young lady who was driving at an excessive speed while weaving in & out of traffic while highly intoxicated, and while high on illegal drugs. She ultimately smashed into a parked vehicle. Not surprisingly, she was arrested and miserably failed her field sobriety test.
In addition, the police found two small baggies on her person – one with cocaine and the other with heroin.
DUI (Driving Under the Influence) (Cal. Veh. Code § 23152);
Possession of a Controlled Substance (Cal. Health & Saf. Code § 11350 -- two counts); and
DUID -- Driving Under the Influence of a Drug (Cal. Veh. Code § 23152(f)).
Worst-case scenario: Over two years in the Women's Central Jail Los Angeles County -- Century Regional Detention Facility.
Result: In light of the indisputable evidence against her, including a BAC test at the station that clearly indicated she was significantly inebriated, client took a plea to a single Driving Under the Influence misdemeanor with zero jail, 52 weeks of 12-step counseling, summary probation, and the standard fine.
Client Arrested with 40 Pounds of Meth; Max: 20 Years; Status: Client Missing/Feared Dead
People v. J.M. (Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center -- 12/15)
Client was arrested with approximately 40 pounds of high-quality crystal meth and was, therefore, charged by the DA’s Office with the following felonies:
Sale or Transportation of a Controlled Substance (California Health and Safety Code section 11352);
Possession of Methamphetamine (California Health and Safety Code section 11377);
Possession for Sale of Methamphetamine (California Health and Safety Code section 11378); and
Possession for Sale of Methamphetamine While on Bail (California Penal Code section 12022.1).
Max potential sentence: No prior drug convictions and no alleged sales to undercover cops; therefore, 20 years. In addition, the client was facing civil forfeiture of several pricey assets, including a new Maserati, as well as other luxury vehicles.
Finally, he would be subject to at least a half-decade of Narcotics Offender Registration (California Health and Safety Code section 11590: https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/health-and-safety-code/hsc-sect-11590.html).
Status: While Ninaz Saffari was deep into reviewing the wiretap transcripts of hundreds of hours of recorded calls between client and his alleged associates, client suddenly disappeared. It was at first believed he may have fled to Mexico but additional information/evidence raised the distinct possibility (if not probability) that he may have been murdered and buried. To date, his body – alive or dead – has not yet been recovered.
Client Charged in Almost Half-a-Dozen Drug Cases; Max: 5 Years; End: No Jail, Rehab Followed by Dismissal
People v. C.C. (L.A. Sup. Ct. – D.T. Criminal Courts Building -- 11/2015)
Client was facing almost half-a-dozen felonies for various drugs involving the following criminal charges:
Possession of a Controlled Substance (California Health and Safety Code section 11350);
Possession for Sale of a Controlled Substance (California Health and Safety Code section 11351); and
Sale or Transportation of a Controlled Substance (California Health and Safety Code section 11352).
Max: Five years in a California penitentiary.
Complications: Each of the five cases was being prosecuted in a separate court.
Process: Ninaz fought hard and successfully consolidated each of the separate matters into a single one. She then had the court pay for her favorite placement counselor, who worked with Ninaz to find a suitable in-patient rehab facility.
End: After convincing the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office Supervisor to support client’s intent to enter said rehab, Ninaz was able to secure client a spot in the facility. As a result, the court agreed to dismiss all charges in all matters upon successful completion.
Client Busted for Importing the Devil’s Lettuce; Facing 5 Years in Prison; Result: Dismissed
People v. N.B. (L.A.S.C. - LAX Courthouse, 09/2013)
Client was targeted by narcotics detectives as a mid-level importer of cannabis, and so was eventually arrested when police seized a large quantity after client alleged shipped it in from the mid-West.
Charge: felony Transportation of Marijuana (California Health and Safety Code section 11360(a))
Complications: Client was currently living in the same street from which he was accused of smuggling weed.
Process: Ninaz kept presenting indisputable proof that client had only been importing the marijuana for medical purposes for the benefit of a fellow collective member who had terminal cancer who, of course, was living in California.
Max: Sixty months in a state penitentiary.
Process: Ninaz pushed relentlessly for the lead narcotics detective, as well as the deputy DA to get on board with Ninaz’s bid for Mental Health Diversion (California Penal Code section 1001.36). Both ultimately supported her request/motion for the court to approve the same.
End: Client accepted a significant criminal reduction to Simple Possession of Marijuana (please remember that this was three years before MJ was decriminalized in California). Client was only required to complete less than 50 N.A. sessions & one month of volunteer work. No jail and no probation. After the client completed N.A. & volunteer work, the end result was a full dismissal of the charge. Client ended up with a clean record.
Attorney Hit with Numerous Charges after Being Pulled Over While Intoxicated & Possessing Cocaine (plus Refusal of Breathalyzer Test); End: No Jail and Eventual Dismissal
People v. J.B. (Los Angeles Superior Court - LAX Courthouse, 08/2013)
Client was pulled over on Sunset Boulevard by a marked Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) patrol SUV because he was allegedly swerving unsteadily. The officers pulled him over and client, unfortunately, voluntarily allowed them to search his vehicle (NEVER DO THAT!!!). Cops found just under an “eight-ball” (3.5 grams, or an eighth of an ounce) of cocaine.
Next, client failed his FST because he had been drinking quite a bit earlier in the evening.
Misdemeanor Driving Under the Influence of a Drug (California Vehicle Code section 23152(f)); and
Felony Possession of Cocaine, also known as Possession of a Controlled Substance (California Health and Safety Code section 11350).
Max sentence: Up to two years’ incarceration if convicted of all counts, and assuming the judge orders the sentences to run concurrently.
Complications: Client was a lawyer in good standing with the California State Bar and, therefore, was facing permanent revocation of his license if he was convicted of the felony. And even in a seemingly best case scenario, meaning he would only be convicted of a misdemeanor, he was still facing a potential six-month suspension of his license (in addition to any jail time).
In addition, client refused to take a blood alcohol breath test when pulled over, which resulted in an automatic, unappealable DMV suspension of the Calif. D.L.:
End: Thanks to Ninaz’s typical barn-storming efforts, the prosecutor eventually agreed to reject the Refusal count, dismiss the cocaine possession charge, and offer client the typical first-time (“standard”) driving under the influence misdemeanor. In addition, client was required to complete informal diversion which consisted of six weeks of once-a-week AA sessions, followed by a global dismissal of all charges. And, of course, the State Bar of California was not required to be notified since no conviction resulted, thereby protecting client’s career.
Client Charged with Felony Cocaine Possession, Possible 1 Year Sentence; Result: No Jail, Informal Diversion Only
People v. J.G. (Beverly Hills courthouse, 05/2013)
Charge: Client arrested at a Sunset Strip hotel with a personal amount of cocaine (less than a few grams) and was therefore arrested and prosecuted on a single count of felony Possession of a Controlled Substance (California Health and Safety Code section 11350).
Max sentence: One year in the Los Angeles County Men’s Jail.
Complications: Client was an Australian national here in SoCal on a work visa with only 30 days left thereon.
Process: Client interviewed a number of other defense lawyers, who all informed him that the best they would be able to do for him was to get him a Deferred Entry of Judgment (DEJ) program which would require him to attend weekly therapy and AA/CA (Cocaine Anonymous) classes for an entire 12 months. As a result, he would have to remain in the U.S., which would mean the loss of his high-paying career/job.
End: Ninaz was able to procure an exemplary offer for the attorney -- Informal Diversion (California Penal Code section 1001.94; California Penal Code section 1001.95). This was an extremely unusual, if not unique, deal because it allowed the attorney to complete all his 12-step sessions within 30 days (i.e., one a day) before his visa expired. Otherwise, he had no incarceration and only had to pay a small fine. The case was thereafter dismissed.
The Los Angeles Defense Attorney Law Firm (LADALF)
Since the very beginning of her four-year tenure with the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office, and continuing through her thirteen-years-and-counting (as of April 2022) in private practice, lead attorney Ninaz Saffari has fought for the rights of hundreds of defendants accused of drug crimes ranging from simple misdemeanors all the way up to complex federal drug trafficking cases.
As part of her defense strategy, Ms. Saffari typically will bombard the prosecution with motions, including Motions to Dismiss (California Penal Code section 995) and Motions to Suppress Evidence (California Penal Code section 1538.5).
If there’s an informant or undercover police officer/detective involved, Ninaz will do everything in her power to force the prosecution to reveal their identities, or else offer her client a deal that’s too good to pass up. Otherwise, Ms. Saffari always pushes aggressively for trial, where she truly excels.