At the Law Office of Ashley Daniel, our California drug crime defense lawyer represents individuals facing different types of drug charges. Any drug charge – ranging from drug possession for personal use to large-scale manufacturing, transportation or trafficking – may result in serious, potentially life-changing consequences for defendants. Drug crime convictions can result in incarceration, hefty fines and enrollment in a drug treatment program.
If you have been charged with a drug-related crime, regardless of whether it’s a misdemeanor or a felony, you should immediately seek the counsel of an experienced California drug crime defense attorney who will work for your best interests, fight to protect your rights and defend the charges against you.
Drug Charges in California
Here are some of the kinds of drug crimes that defendants are often charged with in California:
Possession of drug paraphernalia: Drug paraphernalia refers to any type of equipment that is used to prepare, inject, measure, weigh, inhale or hide illicit drugs. Examples of drug paraphernalia include bongs, pipes, rolling papers, syringes, weighing scales, etc. While it is illegal for anyone to sell, import or export any type of drug paraphernalia, many items such as measuring spoons or scales are often used for normal, everyday activities such as cooking. Also, items such as bongs are used to smoke legal substances such as tobacco. Further, marijuana for recreational use is now legal in California. So, if you face these charges, you need a knowledgeable attorney on your side.
Possession of drugs: It is a crime under both federal and state drug laws to possess any illegal, controlled substances such as methamphetamine, cocaine or heroin, etc. A person in possession of narcotics or controlled substances may be charged with what is known as “simple possession” or possession with “intent to distribute.” When someone has a small quantity of drugs, often for personal use, he or she may be charged with simple possession. However, a larger amount of drugs may lead to a possession for distribution or sale charge.
Drug manufacturing and delivery: An individual may face drug-manufacturing charges if he or she is involved in producing or manufacturing an illicit drug. Delivering an illegal drug is also a crime under state and federal laws.
Drug trafficking: Federal law makes it illegal to sell, transport and import illegal drugs such as cocaine and heroin, etc. This type of crime is usually charged as a felony because it involves the transportation of a large amount of drugs. This is a crime punishable by a lengthy prison sentence.
Drug dealing: This generally refers to the act of selling illicit drugs on a smaller scale. Typically, it involves one person or “dealer” selling to an individual or smaller group of people. While the penalties here may be less severe than for drug trafficking charges, dealers might face additional charges if they are found to be selling drugs near schools or where children are present.
Penalties for Drug Crimes in California
Under California law, the consequences of a drug crime conviction can be significant, especially if you have been convicted of a felony. There is the potential for incarceration and hefty fines. In addition to that, you may lose your constitutional rights such as the right to vote when you are still imprisoned or on parole. You also lose your right to serve on a jury and the right to serve in the military.
If you are a veteran, you may also lose your benefits. You may not be able to run for public office. Even if your record has been expunged, you will be required to disclose your conviction should you decide to run for public office. Further, those convicted of a felony drug crime may be looking at losing their right to possess a firearm. You will also be required to submit your DNA information, which goes into a state database where it may be compared to samples taken from crime scene investigations in the future.
Jail time for drug crime convictions in California may range from a few months to life in prison. The nature of your charges and sentencing terms may depend on the circumstances of your arrest, whether you possessed or used a firearm, if you have a prior criminal record, and/or the amount of drugs that was confiscated as part of your case, etc. You are not immune from serious penalties even if you are charged with a misdemeanor or if it is your first-time drug offense. This is why it is critical that you contact an experienced drug crime defense lawyer to discuss your case right away.
Defenses in a California Drug Case
In a drug crime case, the burden of proof is on the prosecution, which means it is the duty of the prosecutor to show that you committed a crime. Here are some of the most effective defense strategies that we have employed in drug crime cases in California:
Unlawful search and seizure: The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states that you have the right to due process, which includes lawful search and seizure before an arrest. When illegal drugs are found in plain view, it is legal for law enforcement officials to seize them and use them as evidence. But when officers search your home, vehicle or person without permission, then any evidence that is collected cannot be used in court. If your Fourth Amendment rights were violated, evidence obtained in this manner cannot be used in court and the charges must be dismissed.
Drug ownership: If you did not own the drugs obtained during the investigation, you cannot be charged with drug possession. For example, if police found drugs in your home or apartment, but if the drugs belonged to a visitor or a roommate, you should not face charges.
Entrapment: It is extremely common for law enforcement officials to set up drug busts and sting operations. If officers lure individuals into committing a crime, that amounts to entrapment. For instance, if someone pressures you into taking drugs or passing them on to a third party, that may be viewed as entrapment under the law and the charges against you must be dismissed.
Marijuana laws: Under California law, marijuana is legal whether it is used for medicinal or recreational purposes. The only exception is when you are using marijuana or possess the drug while on federal property such as in a national park.
Contacting a Knowledgeable Lawyer
If you have been accused of committing a drug crime in California, please contact the Law Office of Ashley Daniel to find out how our experienced drug crime defense lawyers can help you. We will strive to get your charges dismissed or reduced and explore other opportunities such as drug courts, which offer nonviolent drug offenders the opportunity to resolve their cases outside of the criminal justice system. Call us for a free and comprehensive initial consultation from a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer.