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Your Options If You Have Drug Charges in California

Updated: Nov 28, 2022

Find a Criminal Defense Lawyer for Drug Charges in California


Suppose you are convicted for drug-related crimes such as drug possession, transportation, drug production, or drug delivery. In that case, it is important that you employ a California drug charges attorney. A conviction on these charges may result in a lengthy prison sentence or other consequences, such as difficulty finding safe and decent housing, loss of government benefits, or job loss.


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The state's case against you would need to be fully investigated in these kinds of cases. An investigation is usually required to find what law enforcement thinks they have on you. Furthermore, a drug-related allegation also raises constitutional concerns, such as your right to be free from arbitrary searches and seizures or your right against self-incrimination.


Before giving a statement to the police, contact your drug charges attorney if you have recently been charged with a drug offense. Any claims you make about the circumstances of your arrest could be used against you in court.


What are the Drug Laws in California?


Drug possession, drug possession for sale, drug production, and drug trafficking are California's most serious drug crimes. Possession of a controlled drug such as cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, meth, prescription painkillers without an approved prescription, and others are illegal under section 11350 of the Health and Safety Code.


Furthermore, if you are found guilty of possessing illicit drugs with the intent of trafficking them, you will be charged with a crime under Section 11351 of the Health and Safety Code. If you've been charged with this drug crime, you should know that the prosecution doesn't have to prove that you and another person exchanged drugs.


If the state can prove that you had the intent to sell an illicit substance by trying to add as evidence the drug's package contents, measuring scales, drug amount, or informant statements, you may be prosecuted.


Furthermore, drug arrests and undercover activities are often carried out in order to prosecute people for violating California's Health and Safety Code 111352. It is unlawful in California to sell, transport, or furnish an illegal substance under this statute. Manufacturing drugs and narcotics is the most serious of all drug crimes in this state. A conviction of this offense, which is codified at 11379 of the Health and Safety Code, will result in a seven-year prison term.


Will you have a federal drug violation on your hands?


Federal drug offenses are exceedingly difficult to prosecute, and the case would not be any easier. Drug prosecutors in federal court are notorious for being especially harsh on drug offenders, and federal court, in general, is a whole different ballgame. You will need the assistance of a professional and seasoned federal drug charges attorney who will fight for you every step of the way.


Title 21 of the United States Code contains the bulk of drug legislation. Each prescription is classified into one of five "schedules" under federal law. When the DEA decides which Schedule substance should be classified, it considers several factors. The First Phase Act was recently passed by Congress, resulting in a dramatic shift in drug-related crime sentencing.


The found drug's potential for abuse, scientific evidence of the drug's pharmacological effects, the state of current scientific research regarding the substance, the drug's history and current pattern of abuse, the scope, duration, and significance of abuse, any risk to public health, and the drug's psychic opacity are among the factors considered by the DEA.


Drug Possession Under California Law


Growing, selling, distributing, transporting, possessing, or trafficking marijuana is illegal under federal law. Most marijuana cultivation cases in federal court are charged with criminal federal drug offenses. Possession of marijuana seeds, planting seeds, and drying and processing marijuana plants are all considered cultivating offenses. If at least two plants are found, police will usually charge an individual with cultivation and possession with intent to sell.


The use of marijuana for medicinal purposes is legal in California. In a marijuana cultivation case, however, federal prosecutors can and will seek criminal charges in federal court.


If you are convicted, you could face prison time, probation, high fines, and even asset forfeiture of your personal property. If you are facing criminal charges, it is in your best interest to meet with a competent drug charges attorney.


Types of Drug Charges in California


Drug offenses vary in seriousness, from misdemeanors like marijuana possession or drug paraphernalia to felony offenses like drug trafficking and conspiracy. Federal courts can prosecute such drug offenses.


Manufacturing, trafficking, smuggling of illicit drugs, and marijuana production are all federal drug offenses in California. Narcotics, opiates, depressants, hallucinogens, and stimulants are also regulated drugs. Methamphetamine, cocaine, ecstasy, methamphetamine, and prescription medications are the most common drugs used in drug possession criminal charges.


If you have been charged with a federal drug offense, it is important that you have had legal representation on your side. The law in California differs significantly between misdemeanors and felony charges and is usually determined by the type of substance and quantity obtained.


California is the nation's leader in opioid offender imprisonment, with a massive rise in the number of people sentenced to state prisons. A mandatory minimum prison term is normally imposed if you are convicted of a federal drug crime.


The nature and amount of drugs involved, as well as whether the drugs were just for personal use or whether there was an attempt to market them, decide if this drug offense is prosecuted. Other considerations include a criminal history, especially a prior drug conviction.

When facing a drug crime charge, the best legal defense is to question how the evidence was gathered. You can be free from arbitrary searches and seizures under the statute. This ensures that any unlawfully seized evidence cannot be used to prosecute you in court. To contest the process by which the proof was collected, you will require the legal services of an experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney. If the lawyer succeeds, the testimony may be withheld, and the prosecution will be dismissed.


1. Importation


Bringing illicit controlled drugs into the United States from another state or country is referred to as federal drug importation. This form of federal crime is often linked to drug trafficking, particularly when large amounts of drugs are imported from other countries.


Importing methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana, heroin, ecstasy, prescription medications, or any other illicit drugs is a significant federal drug offense. Mexican drug smuggling activities are typically complex, using various tactics to avoid border inspection stations.


You will almost certainly face felony criminal charges in a Federal Criminal Court if federal agents have convicted you for drug importation. Prosecutors would work hard to get a conviction with the harshest sentences possible. A conviction for a federal drug offense will result in federal jail time, substantial fines, and a permanent criminal record.


2. Manufacturing


Any person who prepares or manufactures illicit drugs to sell them to a customer is considered a drug manufacturer. Intentionally possessing laboratory glassware or chemical solvent with a value greater than $100 with the intent to produce a controlled drug is illegal.


Growing marijuana, running a methamphetamine lab, collecting materials to produce narcotics, and having production equipment are all federal drug manufacturing charges.


Federal prosecutors will vigorously prosecute individuals accused of federal drug crimes. A conviction can result in harsh fines, and a conviction for drug abuse or drug trafficking can result in a sentence to a federal prison that is twice as long.


Additional federal criminal charges and a more serious penalty can result from your previous criminal record, manufacturing near a school or playground, or having a firearm. If the weapons charge is connected to the drug crime charges, it may result in several more years in jail.


3. Smuggling


One of the most serious types of opioid criminal offenses is federal drug smuggling. In a drug smuggling situation, any illicit drug may be used. Smuggled drugs include methamphetamine, marijuana, cocaine, and heroin in varying quantities. And prescription drugs have recently become popular in human trafficking cases. This may be due to their accessibility through the internet.


Prescription drugs such as Xanax or Valium, as well as painkillers including Oxycotin, Oxycodone, and Vicodin, are often bought in bulk and resold for a benefit.


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A drug-smuggling charge is sometimes combined with a drug conspiracy charge. This indicates you've been charged with conspiring to commit a federal drug offense with another person. In federal court, the prosecutor does not want proof that you sold the drugs or that you committed a crime. They just have to show that two or more people conspired to commit a crime.


A conviction for drug smuggling will result in jail time, substantial fines, court costs, and probation. A federal drug crime conviction may have a long-term effect on your career and reputation.


If you or a family member has been convicted or is under federal investigation for drug smuggling in some part of California, you will need to hire the legal services of a company that has dealt with similar charges before.


4. Trafficking


A drug trafficking conviction in federal court will result in a sentence of up to 40 years in federal prison. Title 21 of the United States Code covers federal drug trafficking offenses. The severity of the penalties is determined by several factors, including:

  • The type and volume of the medication in question

  • Evidence of drug trafficking includes large sums of money, firearms, several cell phones, and scales.

  • It doesn't matter if this is your first drug offense.

  • The criminal background of a defendant

  • If the crime crossed state or foreign boundaries

  • If the drugs were sold to minors or near a school

  • If someone was injured or killed as a result of the drug offense


If you are convicted, even if you are a first-time offender, you will face jail time. If you are not a US resident, you can face property seizure, high fines, and deportation. Methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana, heroin, LSD, PCP, and human growth hormone are the most frequently tried substances in federal court.


If you are being investigated for drug trafficking or have already been convicted, you can contact a criminal defense lawyer immediately. If a confidential informant was used to gather evidence against you, your Criminal Defense Attorney in Los Angeles will be aware of this and will put doubt on their credibility.


In various circumstances, such drug offenses can be classified as federal offenses. Any drug crime involving large amounts or volumes of controlled drugs may be classified as a federal offense. The Schedule of the drug used in the crime would also impact how the crime is prosecuted. Since Schedule I controlled substances have a greater potential for violence than other drugs and have no medical use, the risk of the crime being reported as a federal offense increases.


The opioid and prescription drug fraud epidemic in the United States has forced federal law enforcement authorities to crack down on prescription drug purchases and delivery.


Money and property forfeitures and seizures are often linked to federal criminal investigations into organized crime, such as drug trafficking and violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).


Consider one of our prescreened California Lawyers in your California Attorney Search.


Drug Conspiracy Charges


A drug scheme is when two or more people plan to commit a drug crime together. A conspiracy is similar to a relationship, but instead of doing legal, legitimate business, it is a conspiracy to commit crimes. A defendant can be held liable in this type of criminal case not just for his own wrongdoings but also for the wrongdoings of those involved.


Furthermore, since conspiracy is a different offense from a criminal act, the underlying drug charge decides the sentence. Anyone who tries or conspires to violate a federal drug statute is subject to punishment under federal law.


Depending on the underlying drug penalty, the sentence may even be a life sentence. The most commonly prosecuted federal drug law carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years to life in federal prison.


Prosecutions for Drug Trafficking in the United States


Allegations under 21 USC 846, the catch-all law for all types of drug-related criminal conspiracies, are often made in federal criminal cases concerning narcotic drug trafficking.


A conspiracy, as mentioned, is simply an agreement between two or more people to commit a crime. If the conspiracy's intended crime, or purpose, is, at least in part, to sell illegal drugs under federal law, the government may prosecute the conspiracy's participants, known as "co-conspirators," for violating Section 846.


A conspiracy is nothing more than an arrangement. As a result, members of the conspiracy may be convicted even though they are not the primary perpetrators of the crimes. In certain cases, the crime that is the subject of the conspiracy is never executed successfully.

In a traditional drug conspiracy scenario, the buyer or distributor on one side of the deal is actually a cooperating witness or a law enforcement officer. As a result, not only was the drug transaction not done, but it was also highly unlikely that the sale would ever have occurred.


Nonetheless, a drug conspiracy charge may be brought against not only the would-be buyer or seller in the room but also all other conspiracy members, including the dealer, go-between, and so on. An arrangement is a central component of a conspiracy, and its existence must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.


Overt Efforts to Help the Federal Drug Corruption


A conspirator must take explicit action in furtherance of the plot in addition to an agreement. The Indictment would list such overt actions that each member of the charged conspiracy is claimed to have committed in a Section 846 filing in federal criminal court.


These measures can be as easy as showing up at a drug deal and selling drugs or as complicated as offering information, assistance, equipment, and other services to another conspiracy member to further the conspiracy's success.


The defendant's abandonment of the plot before the crime was attempted, on the other hand, is a defense to a drug conspiracy charge. To put it another way, if one of the co-conspirators violates the conspiracy's founding agreement, the larger conspiracy could continue to operate, but the defendant who abandoned it is no longer liable for any potential crimes committed by the remaining participants.

In fact, federal drug conspiracies must include interstate commerce because they are federal crimes. In terms of drug offenses, federal jurisdiction is almost unlimited, but in practice, only extremely large-scale drug sales activity, or activity that is also linked to cartels, terrorism, arms trafficking, human trafficking, or other foreign problems, usually warrants a federal drug cartel indictment.


The states continue prosecuting most low-level transactions involving personal-use amounts with no evidence of additional criminal activity.


Federal Sentencing Guidelines


The harsh effect of federal sentencing law is another big factor in federal drug conspiracy charges. Because of mandatory minimums and high offense levels in the federal sentencing guidelines for drug crimes, particularly those involving large weights/quantities of drugs, a federal drug conspiracy defendant could face several years in federal prison if convicted.


Many defendants charged with these crimes will face substantial forensic investigations from federal law enforcement, as well as video and audio recordings of the actual, alleged sales activity due to the nature of the crime. As a result, a defendant's representation by a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer who can successfully facilitate the best possible settlement arrangement with the prosecution is extremely beneficial.


To summarize, federal drug conspiracy charges are very serious federal offenses that can result in the convict spending a significant amount of time in prison. The right to participate in court and initiate a plea bargaining agreement with the government is often critical to achieving the best possible outcome.


In certain cases, motions to exclude are allowed to contest the government's argument and potentially remove key facts against the defendant at trial based on violations of the defendant's Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendment rights.


What are the potential consequences of a drug offense?


In this state, drug offenses can be categorized as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Additionally, you can face federal drug charges if there are aggravating circumstances surrounding your detention.


Whether you are convicted or not, you will have to serve time in jail or prison will depend on various factors. The type of drug involved, if there are aggravating circumstances of your arrest (murder, theft, burglary, assault, etc. ), whether you have previous drug-related convictions, and other specifics are some of the considerations used in deciding punishment.


The circumstances of your case will determine the penalties that can be levied on you. Although the arrest could have been equivalent to another person's drug-related arrest, the courts decide on punishment on a case-by-case basis. As a result, you could get:

  • Probation is a term used to describe a time

  • Counseling and care for drug abuse

  • Time in jail or in a federal prison

  • Volunteering in the Community

  • Penalties

  • Asset forfeiture


Regardless of the circumstances, our pre-screened California criminal defense lawyers will assess your case to see if it should be dismissed based on the evidence. If that is not the case, your Los Angeles Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer can meet with you before entering a plea deal or going to trial.


What Determines How Serious My Criminal Case Is?


Even if you've been charged with the same crime as someone you know, the facts would be vastly different, necessitating legal counsel that addresses each aspect of your arrest in a personalized manner.


Your case's various components can include, but are not limited to:

  • Criminal record

  • The place of the arrest

  • The jurisdiction of the courtroom

  • The type of the crime, such as whether it is a misdemeanor or a felony

  • Relevant circumstances at the time the crime was committed


Several aspects of criminal charges will influence the effective plan your drug charges attorney will devise for your defense. Your past, personal needs, and future necessitate the services of an accomplished drug charges attorney.


What Are the Consequences of a Criminal Record?


Having a criminal record may have serious consequences for the person who has been convicted. A conviction can have a lot of life-altering consequences.


The consequences of getting a criminal record may include the following:


Future Criminal Cases. If you are convicted of a crime and then arrested for something different, the fines and sentencing will escalate with each subsequent charge.


Employment. As potential workers are subjected to a criminal background check before being employed, the records on the record will show up during the search, making it more difficult to find work.


Licenses and Other Rights. Whether it's a driver's license, a professional credential, or the right to possess a weapon, anyone who has been convicted of a crime will lose all of these privileges.


Child Custody. A criminal record can make it difficult to get custody of your children, particularly if the charges result from domestic violence or violent actions.


Immigrant Status. A foreign national's criminal record can prevent them from changing their immigration status or becoming a naturalized citizen in the United States.


Legal Penalties for Drug Charges in California


The length of a drug case varies significantly. If one person is charged or several persons are charged depends on the severity of the case. It depends on whether several problems in the case need to be resolved, such as motions to suppress or dismiss, motions to unseal warrants or some other form of motion work, or further proceedings that may lengthen the time the case is in court.


It's hard to predict how long a drug case would take because each one is different, and some of the more complex multi-defendant drug cases can take years to resolve.


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Are Courts Tolerant of First-Time Offenders?


If you're a first-time offender on a simple possession conviction, you'll be eligible for probation, which ensures you'll be able to complete an outpatient rehab program and have the charge removed from your record.


If you're a first-time offender with no other special conditions, you'll most likely be offered a chance on probation to prevent a longer period of imprisonment and will be supervised by the probation department or a chance at residential treatment to avoid further jail time or incarceration in a county or state prison.


The DA and the courts will not dismiss your case simply because it is your first conviction or because you have a family or a job. And if you are a real first-time offender, you must deserve your dismissal; there is no automatic dismissal for first-time offenders.


Is it Possible to Get a Drug Case Thrown Out?


Cases involving drugs can be dismissed. The most common reason for the dismissal due to facts collected illegally. Suppose the police violated the 4th amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure by unlawfully collecting evidence. In that case, your counsel will bring a motion to suppress in court, asking for any evidence found resulting from the unlawful search to be thrown out. The case will be dismissed if the search evidence is thrown out and the DA is left with no other evidence to convict you.


Even if there are no unlawful searches, if the DA cannot prove that you actually possess the drugs, that is, that you knew the drugs were there or that you knew the existence of the drugs, they will be unable to continue with the case, and you will either get your case dismissed before the trial or you will have a strong case to win the jury trial.


Is it possible to get drug charges removed from a person's record?


If you're a first-time offender charged with simple drug possession, you might be eligible for diversion, which would clear your record. Even if you are not otherwise eligible for probation on a simple drug possession charge with no other criminal charges associated with it, you might be eligible for sentencing under Penal Code Section 1210, which allows you to be sentenced to residential treatment rather than imprisonment, and then petition the court to get the case dismissed after the treatment is completed.


And if you are not eligible for any of those services, if you are put on probation and are not sentenced to state prison following the effective completion of your probation, if you have no convictions and no new prosecutions, you will return to court to seek an expungement, which is a dismissal of the case to remove it from the record after you have successfully completed probation.


What is the most difficult aspect of a drug case for a criminal defense lawyer to deal with?


The fact that their client comes to them with a drug problem is perhaps the most challenging part of drug litigation for lawyers to deal with.


Even though they are not normally criminals, their addiction has forced them to face the criminal justice system. Even if the criminal defense lawyer can obtain a favorable and fair sentence for the defendant, if that client is unable to stay clean and sober, they will not be effective on some form of probation, and even if they are not on probation, they will relapse and return to court on a second, third, or more serious occasion.


Helping the person get their addiction under control, become concerned about their health, and seek the care they need to clean up their lives and avoid re-entering the criminal justice system is always the most difficult aspect. Stop using drugs to make a better life for themselves, their families, and their potential court cases.


Possible Defenses for California Drug Possession Charges


A good response to a drug charge may be based on police brutality and illegal search and capture. To make an arrest, police must have probable cause and consent to conduct a search. If a search or arrest on a drug offense is conducted without probable cause or consent, it can be considered a breach of an individual's civil rights. Furthermore, any information obtained from an illegal search would not be admissible in court.


For example, one defense to a drug possession charge with intent to sell is to contest the quantity or volume of drugs discovered. The defendant may also argue that there is no connection between the money, the tourists, or the packaging. If the number of drugs is found to be below the legal limit for mere drug possession, this will be a less serious crime than intent to sell.


Unauthorized Search and Capture. As a resident of the United States, you have the right to be free from illegal searches and seizures. To legally search a person or his or her property for illegal drugs, police officers and other law enforcement officers must obey certain laws. To execute the search or obtain a search warrant, the officer must have permission and probable cause. Otherwise, the courts could refuse to allow any drugs or evidence discovered by the officer to be used as evidence. For example, if the officer has no probable cause to detain a driver, a DUI lawyer would argue that the case should be dismissed.


No Proof of Ownership. If you can prove the drugs weren't yours, the charges against you could be dropped. And if the narcotics were discovered in your home or car, the prosecutor must prove you are the owner of the drugs. You may be able to argue that the drugs discovered were not yours or that you were unaware they were on your property.


Evidence from a Crime Lab. Before presenting any suspected illicit drugs as evidence, the prosecutor must send them to crime laboratories for review. You may have had a substance that looked like a drug but was actually legal. In such cases, the police lab or the arresting officer may not deliver the drugs in time for the trial.


The details of your detention and criminal charges will determine the best defensive plan for you.


Find A California Criminal Defense Attorney for Drug Charges

Finding a Criminal Defense Attorney in Los Angeles with ample experience with your particular case might be difficult in highly stressful situations. 1000Attorneys.com is a California Bar Association Certified Lawyer Referral Service that will match clients up with fitting California drug possession lawyer.


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