Drug Crimes are perhaps the most common type of crime in modern day America. In California, Drug Crimes range from non criminal infractions to serious felony trafficking charges carrying significant prison time. Regardless, being arrested for a drug crime in California cannot be taken lightly. Regardless of the seriousness of any charge, it is always recommended to immediately obtain the services of an experienced Southern California Criminal Defense Attorney. Law Enforcement officers and prosecutors are aggressive in pursuing charges. It is important that there be no delay in developing a strong defense against any allegations. There is often much that can be done in the early stages of a case to investigate and determine factors which would lead to a favorable result.
In the State of California, Health and Safety Codes categorize drugs, or controlled substances, into categories of legal or illegal. The law criminalizes possession, use, sales and manufacture of a substance considered an illegal drug, Common illegal drugs include marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and ecstasy. The law also criminalizes possession, use and sales of unauthorized prescription drugs such as Oxycontin, Xanax and Vicodin in addition to many others.
The most common illegal drug consumed in America is marijuana. Still classified by the federal government in the same category as heroin and cocaine, California has taken steps to reduce simple possession of this substance from a misdemeanor to an infraction. However, California continues to have stiff penalties for possession of larger amounts and for illicit sale of marijuana. In 1996, California passed Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act, which allows a qualified patient or caregiver to possess, grow, transport and/or use Medical Marijuana. Almost daily news describes the medical marijuana industry’s continuing legal battles with local, state and federal authorities.
The federal government has specific agencies, such as the Drug Enforcement Agency, that target drug activity and pursue drug arrests. Recent controversy in California are the federal raids on legal marijuana dispensaries. Regardless, both Federal as well as State authorities are known to take an aggressive stance in arresting anyone they feel violate State or Federal laws.
A variety of factors in considered as to the criminal charges filed by prosecutors. What may be legal or a minor crime in certain situations may be an extremely serious crime in other cases or if the individual charged has prior convictions. Deciding factors affecting charges would the type of drug, the quantity of the controlled substance, and the for which the drug was possessed.. For example, possession for personal usage differs greatly from possession for sale.
Being arrested and charged does not necessarily mean that an individual will be convicted. Penal Code Section 1000 allows for “diversion” in many misdemeanor and felony drug cases. Using eligibility under that statute, it is possible to completely avoid conviction and to instead charges will be dropped upon completion of a drug program and remaining drug free for a period of time. Proposition 36 is another program where individuals may completely avoid what normally would be a lengthy period of time in jail or prison.
Whether an offense is simple possession or sales, hiring an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney is essential. Often there are issues with the legality of the probable cause of arresting agencies justifying the arrest. If an effective probable cause challenge can be raised, all evidence, including the drugs in question, can be eliminated from evidence. In under the influence cases, it is not enough for law enforcement to guess or think that a person is under the influence. Without a chemical test or at least an evaluation by a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE), it is difficult for prosecutors to prove such allegations. There are a number of strategies that can be used to attempt to minimize the prosecution’s use of evidence against the accused
Typical Drug Crimes include:
- Possession of a narcotic or controlled substance
- Possessions with intent to sell, manufacture, or deliver
- Being under the influence of drugs
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
- Prescription Drug Fraud
- Search and Seizure
If you or a loved one are being charged for a Drug Crime do not hesitate to contact our office for a free consultation.